I recently received this message in my browser while opening a web page I designed for a friends company. I have received this message before while going to other sites, and just refreshed the browser and continued, not thinking anything of it.
“There is an issue with your connection – We had an issue while attempting to notify you about your Xfinity Internet service”.
My first reaction was anger. Anger because Xfinity injected a message into my browser, Anger that Xfinity has the ability to inject or add to my data connection. After receiving this I did as all good technology-loving user would do, I Googled it. Based on my findings this is something that Xfinity does when trying to notify their subscribers that we are using too much bandwidth and getting near the data cap.
To be clear, I am getting near my data cap and actually just went over it for the 3rd time. “Side note – Xfinity gives you 2 free months that you can go over your cap”.
I find this method of notification disturbing for two reasons: 1. They are injecting something into my data. 2. There are other ways to communicate with me
Xfinity Injecting into my data
After I got this message I contacted Xfinity. The nice representative tried to help, they tested my connection (hardware), asked me if I was using “hardwire or wifi” (network), asked if this happened on http or https sites, and what sites I was going to. In the end, I was escalated to the Customer area. I did not get an answer on what and when that message is displayed to a customer.
After thinking about this a bit longer, could Xfinity have decided to send me this message when I’m on my banking or financial site? Could the message have been something similar to “Hey re-enter your password”?
This method of communication is not acceptable in my opinion. I see this as an abuse of trust between my Internet provider (ISP) me the user. I could be wrong, but I was ok with basic monitoring of usage, traffic, bandwidth and connection. However, interrupting that data stream seems like something I did not sign up for.
Other Methods of Notification
The other reason I was upset is that Xfinity could have used another method of communication. I have received emails, text messages, and Phone calls from Xfinity.
If this was important since they have my cell phone and home phone, they could have called with an automated message. They could have texted me that I’m using 90% of my data. Even an email would have been nice, stating that you are at 100% of your data usages. (NOTE: we did get an email after this browser message.)
The challenge with the browser injection is that it did not tell me anything. It said I had to call, and that they were attempting to notify me. What does it mean that a copy of this message was sent to the email associated with this account? It that the email I received that I had used 90% of my data plan?
What is next
My next step is to move away from Xfinity. The cause of me moving away from Xfinity is not because of this “Man in the Middle” messaging. I will admit that this did accelerate the process. I am moving away because of the Data Cap.
As a family we are utilizing more and more data. This is because of the use of both Intenet TV services and overall more online usage. Now that we have Hulu+ and Disney+ we are watching 4k and really using some bits.
Overall, I have had a good experience with Xfinity/Comcast. Thank you for providing me service since around 2001. You have worked with me when I had TiVo and many other new technologies. My most recent experience with xfinigyt was my cable modem somehow de-registered and when I called Xfinity they had a tech on site in 20 minutes. That is just amazing and the Tech was very experienced and super great to work with.
Even though it sounds like I’m leaving Xfinity / Comcast, I’m actually heading to Comcast business. So it is at least still in the family.