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# 208559 16-Feb-2017 17:20
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Hi All.

 

A valued business client of mine, who has been with Spark for as long as they can remember, is facing an 'excess usage' charge in the thousands of dollars for exceeding their broadband plan allowance.

 

Over the December/January holiday period while their office was largely unattended, a software error (which can be proven) resulted in some recently installed online backup software continuously re-uploading the same piece of data to a server across the other side of town.  The client's 200Gb plan was significantly exceeded, with several Tb of traffic generated.  The fibre plan they were on has over-use penalties of $1.50 per Gb, and the resulting bill is several thousand dollars higher than normal.  

 

This client arranged plan changes and upgrades over the phone, and were never directed to the My Spark portal to set up usage alerts.  After some discussion, in recognition of this information not being provided, Spark have offered a 50% discount on the overuse charges, leaving several thousand dollars still to pay.

 

Spark have advised my client that "we do not actively monitor our customer’s usage. Given this, we would not have been aware of the high usage, and therefore excess charges, until the bill was generated and you raised the issue with us."

 

However if you look at the residentials plans, Spark states on their web site "When you go over your data limit, we won’t charge you for every extra megabyte you use.  Instead we charge you for blocks of data. It costs $5 per 5GB up to a max of $50. After that you’ll charged as though you were on the unlimited data plan for the rest of the month."

 

So which is it?  Do Spark actively monitor customer plans for high usage or not?  Or do Spark deliberately not monitor Business Broadband clients usage in order to be able to swindle them out of as much money as they can?  If Spark proactively support their residential clients to prevent unexpected bills, why are they not protecting their business clients in the same way?

 

Spark?

 

Sincerely,
Mike





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  # 1721475 16-Feb-2017 18:04
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Your client should have done a better job of managing their data usage. I can't see any reason why your client's failures should be Spark's problem; nor do I see why Spark should monitor a business account.

Business and consumer are completely different use-cases.

I'm no Spark fan, but this one isn't their issue.




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  # 1721478 16-Feb-2017 18:13
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From what I can see, the difference between your client's plan and an unlimited plan is a mere $20, possibly $50 if they're on different plans. To charge thousands of dollars for excess data worth $20 - $50 is a joke. Here's an idea for Spark, when a customer goes over their allowance by a significant amount, charge them the unlimited plan charge + a reasonable penalty fee. 

Obviously they should've been more proactive, but it still doesn't excuse Spark for charging well beyond what is reasonable.


 
 
 
 




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  # 1721495 16-Feb-2017 19:18
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BlinkyBill: Your client should have done a better job of managing their data usage. I can't see any reason why your client's failures should be Spark's problem; nor do I see why Spark should monitor a business account.

Business and consumer are completely different use-cases.

I'm no Spark fan, but this one isn't their issue.

 

I disagree with you on this.  Suppliers have a duty of care to their clients.  If something is going wrong with something I am working on for a client, I bring it to their attention promptly to minimise their potential loss or harm.  In this case, the supplier is profiting from something going wrong, and has arranged things so it is to their benefit when things go wrong for the client.

 

If your mechanic wilfully turns a blind eye to symptoms that your car is low on oil in order to profit from doing major engine work in the future, is that reasonable?  It's not your mechanic's issue that your car was low on oil.  He knows you drive a nice car, so you must be able to afford his future repair bill.





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  # 1721502 16-Feb-2017 19:41
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Hmmm seems your client should just opt for an Unlimited plan so they don't get "Bill Shock" the likes of which has happened 

 

 

 

as for the software hiccup which produced mountains of un-needed Data being sent are they sure it was set up properly alot of backup software I've seen allows for quite a few options when doing a job, like only backing up data that has been changed recently rather than everything every time a backup is performed which is what it sounds like it has been left do 

 

 

 

Unfortunately for your client mis-configured software is not sparks problem but after saying that spark should have contacted them to say hey do you realize your data usage is going through the roof instead of just letting it happen 


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  # 1721504 16-Feb-2017 19:47
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Have you checked the service agreement for a specified cap on line of credit, etc?





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  # 1721531 16-Feb-2017 20:14
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Athlonite:

 

Hmmm seems your client should just opt for an Unlimited plan so they don't get "Bill Shock" the likes of which has happened 

 

as for the software hiccup which produced mountains of un-needed Data being sent are they sure it was set up properly alot of backup software I've seen allows for quite a few options when doing a job, like only backing up data that has been changed recently rather than everything every time a backup is performed which is what it sounds like it has been left do 

 

Unfortunately for your client mis-configured software is not sparks problem but after saying that spark should have contacted them to say hey do you realize your data usage is going through the roof instead of just letting it happen 

 

The little organisation was always well within their data cap and didn't see the need to go with a big plan.

 

The software was crashing and restarting every 30 minutes due to some sort of software conflict.  It did not do this immediately, but started misbehaving after about a week.  The dashboard was showing successful backups, and did not show the background processes were continuously restarting.

 

It's not Spark's fault.  It's not our client's fault.





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  # 1721536 16-Feb-2017 20:33
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Sam91:

 

From what I can see, the difference between your client's plan and an unlimited plan is a mere $20, possibly $50 if they're on different plans. To charge thousands of dollars for excess data worth $20 - $50 is a joke. Here's an idea for Spark, when a customer goes over their allowance by a significant amount, charge them the unlimited plan charge + a reasonable penalty fee. 

Obviously they should've been more proactive, but it still doesn't excuse Spark for charging well beyond what is reasonable.

 

 

This is exactly what spark to of residential plans, you may per GB till 50$ then it is 'unlimited' for the month.

 

 

 

I won't comment on the business account in this instance at the moment however (sorry OP)





#include <std_disclaimer>

 

Any comments made are personal opinion and do not reflect directly on the position my current or past employers may have.


 
 
 
 


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  # 1721544 16-Feb-2017 20:48
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Dynamic:

BlinkyBill: Your client should have done a better job of managing their data usage. I can't see any reason why your client's failures should be Spark's problem; nor do I see why Spark should monitor a business account.

Business and consumer are completely different use-cases.

I'm no Spark fan, but this one isn't their issue.


I disagree with you on this.  Suppliers have a duty of care to their clients.  If something is going wrong with something I am working on for a client, I bring it to their attention promptly to minimise their potential loss or harm.  In this case, the supplier is profiting from something going wrong, and has arranged things so it is to their benefit when things go wrong for the client.


If your mechanic wilfully turns a blind eye to symptoms that your car is low on oil in order to profit from doing major engine work in the future, is that reasonable?  It's not your mechanic's issue that your car was low on oil.  He knows you drive a nice car, so you must be able to afford his future repair bill.


At least come up with a decent analogy: Spark was contracted to supply bandwidth and they supplied it, a mechanic is engaged to look after your car and wilfully turning a blind eye isn't supplying it.

How on earth can Spark possibly track or monitor excess use of bandwidth? Very interested to understand this. Remember, this is business use, not consumer use.




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  # 1721551 16-Feb-2017 21:11
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Given unlimited data is $150 on a business plan, only $30 more than a 500GB plan, a charge of thousands of dollars is completely unreasonable. However your customer chose the plan and used the data. I would probably try escalating to TDR but you're probably out of luck here.




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  # 1721559 16-Feb-2017 21:21
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BlinkyBill: How on earth can Spark possibly track or monitor excess use of bandwidth? Very interested to understand this. Remember, this is business use, not consumer use.

 

Spark themselves indicate monitoring of excess usage is easy.  Evidence here: http://www.spark.co.nz/help/internet-email/manage-internet-data/check-broadband-usage/going-over-spark-broadband-allowance/  This is Spark fulfilling their duty of care to their non-business clients to limit a financial loss if internet usage is unexpectedly high.

 

Why would Spark not protect their business clients in the same way?  Can you think of a business or industry that would rather have the unexpectedly large bill?





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  # 1721618 16-Feb-2017 23:30
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Not sure why businesses should be treated harder than consumers, espeically as businesses usually pay more for what is essentially the same type of connection. If there are safeguards for residential consumers, then I would have thought there could be some safety mechanism for business consumers too. eg slowing the connection down to dialup speeds is a common one that ISPs have used for years, so once you hit a quota, your connection drops back in speed.


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  # 1721645 17-Feb-2017 05:31
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Dynamic:

BlinkyBill: How on earth can Spark possibly track or monitor excess use of bandwidth? Very interested to understand this. Remember, this is business use, not consumer use.


Spark themselves indicate monitoring of excess usage is easy.  Evidence here: http://www.spark.co.nz/help/internet-email/manage-internet-data/check-broadband-usage/going-over-spark-broadband-allowance/  This is Spark fulfilling their duty of care to their non-business clients to limit a financial loss if internet usage is unexpectedly high.


Why would Spark not protect their business clients in the same way?  Can you think of a business or industry that would rather have the unexpectedly large bill?


Business use is predicated on achieving a Service Level. For business use, Spark deliver throughput and capacity to the agreed SLA. That is a characteristic of business use. Businesses don't want their business operations to be affected by throttled internet.

Consumers aren't impacted in terms of revenue or service to THEIR customers if throttling occurs, because they don't have any. Consumer use and business use are completely different use-cases.

It is reasonable to expect a business to manage the resources they use to operate their business. Use of the internet is ubiquitous for just about any business; at the lowest end for emails twice a day, and at the high end for distributing video on demand to millions of consumers.that same standard cannot reasonably be applied to consumer use, hence fair-use policies, throttling etc.

And Spark do provide alert notifications for businesses.

Yes the charge is excessive; but high fees for bad management practices serves to concentrate the mind. I myself apply high fees to provide services I don't really want to provide.




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  # 1721690 17-Feb-2017 09:56
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mattwnz:

 

 

 

Not sure why businesses should be treated harder than consumers

 

 

they dont..
consumers can get a huge wack when using mobile internet & going way over the allocation .
consumers get throttled back in speed when over the ADSL data limit, thats not something acceptable for business internet .

 

The business agreed to the terms and conditions, they signed up to it. Why complain about something they agreed to ?
Tthis sort of thing used to be very common, going over data caps , stuck with huge penalty bills .
There is no way they couldnt see that this might happen , Management: lack of proper planning .

 

Although,the penalty charges simply cannot be justified . Just a money grab.

 

 


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  # 1721697 17-Feb-2017 10:04
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I have advised the OP that this situation is already under investigation with Spark's Customer Resolution Group. As such, it would be remiss of me to provide any commentary at this stage.





The views expressed by me are not necessarily those of my employer Chorus NZ Ltd


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  # 1721747 17-Feb-2017 12:10
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Not sure why you've got the knives out for Spark. Its not their fault, and they've offered to waive half the excess. Seems more than reasonable to me.

 

As previously stated the business could protect itself from these occurrences with an unlimited plan.


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