Spectrum is Overcharging Customers

They did this to me.  I have a feeling they are doing this to nearly everyone.  This on top of the fact that they charged me for upgrades that Brighthouse had given me for free without my knowledge.  And the service has become terrible.  My cable modem reboots throughout the day now and I haven’t been able to log into any wifi hotspots since the changeover. 

 

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/spectrum-customer-irate-over-mistaken-activation-fee-charge/2310798

Lara Bartelds has no beef with a broadband company charging customers a one-time activation fee for brand-new service.

But what happens when Spectrum is the new guy on the block and connects its network to the thousands of Tampa Bay customers the company inherited last year when it acquired Bright House Networks?

In Bartelds’ case, she still got charged a new customer wifi activation fee.

Spectrum’s response Wednesday: Oops, our bad.

Bartelds, 41, a Feather Sound resident in Clearwater, noticed a one-time “wifi activation” fee on her December Spectrum bill and twice called customer service demanding an explanation. She said Spectrum told her this was the charge customers must pay after its parent company, Charter Communications, bought Bright House last May.

Spectrum said the charge was a mistake, not policy, and waived the fee for Bartelds. But four additional Spectrum customers contacted the Tampa Bay Times after it posted a story about Bartelds saying they, too, were charged a wifi-connection charge on their December bills. All said they first signed up for Bright House Internet service years ago and their accounts were assumed by Spectrum.

“I didn’t connect with them, they connected to me,” said Bartelds, who works as a software technical analyst. “It wasn’t my option to go from Bright House to Spectrum. It was their choice to buy Bright House. We’re being penalized for their buyout.”

Max Perez said he and his mother, Rosa Perez, 82, both of Tampa, saw the wifi-connection fee on their separate bills in December.

“My mom’s on Social Security and every dollar counts,” Perez said. “Spectrum said its computer system would not allow them to waive the fee. So I gave my mom $10 and said, ‘Here, mom. Just pay it.’ ”

Tammy Sassin, a commercial real estate broker from Lutz, said she, too, was charged a $9.99 wifi fee in December, though she first signed up for Bright House Internet more than a decade ago.

“Mistake?” Sassin said. “No, no, no.”

Though the Bright House acquisition was finalized last May, Charter did not begin rolling out its Spectrum brand locally until November, which might account for why such a charge has only recently appeared on bills.

Spectrum spokesman Joe Durkin said the fee should not apply to customers the company inherited from Bright House who already had Internet service. He said Spectrum is reviewing cases the Times has brought to its attention to see if the charges were appropriate.

Durkin said the company was investigating the issue but thought any mistaken billings would have been very limited.

“As you know, we’ve said from the beginning that Bright House legacy customers aren’t going to see any change in their service or price package,” Durkin said. “We have over a million customers in the Bay area, so this doesn’t look like a widespread issue.”

Frontier Communications, which acquired Verizon’s TV, Internet and landline phone business last year, said it does not charge the customers it inherited any connection fee. Frontier spokeswoman Brigid Smith defended her company’s rival, saying she was skeptical it was Spectrum policy to charge any such fee to existing customers.

“We don’t want to push (Spectrum) under the bus,” Smith said.

Bartelds, however, said she remains skeptical that Spectrum wasn’t trying to sneak a charge by her.

“Their customer-service representatives were dismissive of me,” she said. “A lot of people don’t notice these kinds of charges. I think Spectrum was hoping we’re just not paying attention to our bills.”


HP recalls 101,000 laptop batteries due to fire concerns

HP is asking the owners of some laptop models to send their batteries in for a replacement to make sure their devices don’t catch fire. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a notice about the recall, which affects around 101,000 computers. Those who have HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP ENVY, Compaq Presario and HP Pavilion laptops purchased between March 2013 and October 2016 may want to check their lithium-ion battery. If its bar code starts with 6BZLU, 6CGFK, 6CGFQ, 6CZMB, 6DEMA, 6DEMH, 6DGAL or 6EBVA, the company says the best course of action is to pull it out and contact HP for a free replacement.

According to the CPSC notice, HP has received an “additional report of the battery overheating, melting and charring and causing about $1,000 in property damage.” The electronics maker issued a recall for 41,000 batteries in June 2016, but this new report compelled it to do another round. Lithium-ion batteries are prone to overheating and catching fire — the Samsung Note 7 fiasco is the perfect example — and this is far from the first time HP’s had battery troubles. It recalled hundreds of thousands of batteries over the past few years for the same reason. And until the electronics industry finds a better battery tech or a way to prevent lithium-ion-related fiery mishaps, tech companies will have to continue dealing with the same issue.


Google Maps may soon show how difficult parking is near your destination

From ARS:

Enlarge / Parking information shown in Google Maps v9.44 beta.

You can already find out a lot about your commute by using Google Maps, and you soon may be able to find out how hard it will be to find a parking place once you arrive at your destination. Android Police is reporting a new feature present for some users in the Google Maps v9.44 beta that details parking information near your destination when you set driving directions.

When you first set a destination, a parking availability indicator appears next to your estimated driving time in the form of a “P” symbol. There appear to be three levels of parking availability: “easy,” “medium,” and “limited” for areas where parking is typically hard to come by. During your drive, you can expand the turn-by-turn directions to see a more detailed explanation of your destination’s parking situation. While the descriptions are not real-time indicators of the parking situation you’re driving into, they do tell you how easy it “usually” is to find a parking spot near your destination.

According to Android Police’s report, parking information currently shows up for public places like shopping centers and airports. There’s no telling how many users have access to the parking information feature yet, or where it’s being rolled out to first. We downloaded the v9.44 beta in the New York City/Long Island area to a Samsung Galaxy S7, and parking information did show up. Give it some more time if you’re using the v9.44 beta and don’t see parking information yet.


Online databases dropping like flies, with over10k falling to ransomware groups

From ARS

More than 10,000 website databases have been taken hostage in recent days by attackers who are demanding hefty ransoms for the data to be restored, a security researcher said Friday.

The affected data is created and stored by the open source MongoDB database application, according to researchers who have been tracking the ongoing attacks all week. On Monday, Victor Gevers, co-founder of the GDI Foundation, reported finding 200 such databases that had been deleted. By Tuesday, John Matherly, founder of the Shodan search engine increased the estimate to 2,000 databases, and by Friday, fellow researcher Niall Merrigan updated the count to 10,500.

Misconfigured MongoDB databases have long exposed user password data and other sensitive information, with the 2015 breach of scareware provider MacKeeper that exposed data for 13 million users being just one example. With the surge in ransomware-style attacks—which threaten to permanently delete or encrypt data unless owners pay a fee—hacks targeting MongoDB are seeing a resurgence. Many poorly secured MongoDB databases can be pinpointed using Shodan, which currently shows 99,000 vulnerable instances.When the ransom-style attacks targeting MongoDB databases first came to light, they were mostly carried out by someone using the online handle Harak1r1. The individual or group was deleting vulnerable databases and promising to restore them if owners paid around $200 in Bitcoin. Over time, other attackers have taken part in similar attacks, in some cases replacing a rival’s ransom demand with one of their own. A list of the best-known attackers is here. In all, the attackers have compromised about 10,500 databases. Promises to restore the databases in return for a ransom payment are dubious, since there’s no evidence the attackers copied the data before deleting it.

MongoDB maintainers have responded to the reports with a blog post explaining how to detect and respond to attacks. People who administer websites that use MongoDB should ensure they’re avoiding common pitfalls by, among other things, blocking access to port 27017 or binding local IP addresses to limit access to servers.


Google Doesn’t Want My $900!

On November 27th I gave in to temptation and order a Google Pixel.  It’s everything I want in a phone and they had a good financing deal.

The phone was back ordered but I ordered it anyway.  I could wait a few weeks.

A week after placing the ordering using Googles own financing program I get an email on the 7th telling me the order is on hold.

I call and get a very very very confused woman with a foreign accent on the line.  She seems unable to understand the issue.  I keep explaining I have no bank to contact about payment, I was approved for their own Financing.  I ask to speak with a  supervisor.  I’m put on hold for a looong time.  The same girl comes back on and explains it was just a glitch and to ignore the e-mail.

The next day my phone rings I answer it and no one is there.  I look up the number and it turns out it is Google.  I call them back talk to another girl with an accent who tells me everything is fine and the payment has processed and the phone will ship eventually.

Today on the 11th I wake up to an e-mail telling me the order has been canceled.  

I call I’m told they tried to process the payment 5 times and it failed.  

So lets look at that closely.  

First, it’s a payment from their own bank that was approved solely for this purchase.

Second, it’s the total opposite of what I was told the TWO times I contacted them.

Third, I checked the status of my order multiple times daily and this issue was never indicated anywhere.

I waited two hours for a supervisor to call me back.  I finally called back and now was told I have to wait another two hours for a supervisor to call me back.

I have never in my life had a company go out of their way to make it impossible for me to purchase from them.