Warning – unsolicited video download from STW ads can cost you money!

Home Forum Chat Forum Warning – unsolicited video download from STW ads can cost you money!

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  • Warning – unsolicited video download from STW ads can cost you money!
  • perthmtb
    Member

    So that Epic TV ad which appears on every page of STW at the moment has just gobbled 2 GB of my precious data allowance in two evenings, pushing me over my data limit and incurring extra charges!

    I got a warning from my mobile broadband provider that I’d exceeded my monthly data limit on the last day of my billing period, and had already used half of the next whole month’s allowance in the following day!

    Thinking this must be a mistake, I protested that all I do is send a few emails, a couple of pages of BBC news, and a few threads on STW.

    They were actually quite understanding, and after gently enquiring if I had any teenagers in the house with a penchant for YouTube, dug through their records and politely explained that I’d spent a total of about five hours over two nights downloading video from a website called “Epic TV”.

    Didn’t mean anything to me, and I was starting to suspect the wife was addicted to some web shopping channel, until I realised its that ad that is sitting right over there —->>> as I type this.

    Let me be clear about this – I’ve never clicked on the ad, or in any other way asked to watch its video content – it starts automatically, unsolicited, and continues to download HD video as long as you’re on the page, which can be hours if you wander away from the computer to do other stuff like I do!

    So… who do I send my bill for the unsolicited and unauthorised use of my data allowance to – STW or Epic TV?

    jekkyl
    Member

    What an absolute pile of poo. Stw’s answer: buy a premium membership, but is the ability to browse a load of guys arguing & a large knowledge bank without advertising worth 15 quid a year?! No.

    Premier Icon boxelder
    Subscriber

    If your full time job/business was to produce a magazine and associated website, would you be happy to give it away?

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    This thread has been highlighted so Mark or another will answer soon with a definitive answer. The ads do need to stay as they pay for the site without them it would disappear or be subscription only, however I’m sure they don’t want them to be intrusive Mark will answer that better though.

    perthmtb
    Member

    Sorry, didn’t mean this to develop into one of those advertising versus premium membership debates. Just wanted to warn others before they get burnt like I did.

    Personally I’m not averse to a bit of advertising, and especially targeted bike-related ads which can be quite interesting/useful on a bike forum.

    What peeves me is that this particular ad starts gobbling expensive data allowance (unless you’re on an unlimited plan, or perish the thought – accessing from work) without so much as a please or thankyou. At very least, it should require you to mouseover or click on the ad before it starts using your valuable data allowance to stream HD video.

    Premier Icon Smudger666
    Subscriber

    Edit – Perth replied while I was typing,

    mu3266
    Member

    perth, a simpler way is change your settings so media content doesn’t play automatically. It has the option in Chrome.

    Can be a bit of a pain in the arse with youtube etc if you browse there but it stops video & audio ads.

    The flip side for STW is it doesn’t stop picture ads that use significantly LESS bandwidth.

    Everyone’s a winner, provided STW doesn’t use data intensive ads.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    So am I right in thinking that if I an viewing this now on my mobile using 3g, I am using all my data allowance up?

    Oh hang on that particular ad isn’t showing on my mobile..

    alanf
    Member

    MU3266 – where can I find these settings in Chrome?
    I think this add is stealing my broadband also.

    sniff
    Member

    Chrome mobile….

    Settings > content settings > protected content (set to off)

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    I’m a premium member, with ads turned off and that ones still there when I’m on the computer! Doesn’t appear to be when on my phone.

    Edit: I now see it’s a separate option to remove Epic TV ads!

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Yes Njee there’s an option to disable it for those folks who are paid members. As you say it’s a seperate option from the option to disable ads.

    alanf
    Member

    Cheers Sniff – I’ve managed to sort it now (on a desktop not mobile)

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    The Epic TV player doesn’t show on mobile devices. It’s desktop only. So it shouldn’t be using up anyone’s mobile data plans.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    unless they tether their laptop etc to their phone?

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Subscriber

    Drac/ mods generally you might want to fix the disable option as you can’t tell if epic is disabled or not.

    Each time you press the button it still says remove epic tv

    I cannot tell if it’s on or off.

    I am a full package subscriber and if I had been caught out like the op I would be livid with stw for what appears to be unflagged and problematic content. No issue with epic s model but it needs to come with an obvious warning about data use and a way of disabling the downloads.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    In safari tick ‘Stop Plugins to save power’ in the prefs. Doesn’t block the ads (which is nice for STW towers) but prevents the Epic TV from loading video data unless you click on it.

    EDIT success! Tried to type the above into half a dozen threads about this and each time the thread has been locked while I was typing.

    perthmtb
    Member

    unless they tether their laptop etc to their phone?

    Which I do.

    And let me see if I understand this right…

    – If I access STW from a phone it automatically blocks that ad from appearing.

    – But, if I access STW from a desktop/laptop its not blocked.

    – And, if I access from a desktop/laptop tethered to a phone its not blocked either.

    – If I subscribe to premium I get an option to block that ad.

    – There are settings in certain browsers to stop any ads/sites from automatically launching video content, but its not very selective

    Getting awfully complicated guys – wouldn’t it be easier to have a policy that advertisers aren’t allowed to automatically launch video streaming from ads, and thereby avoid upsetting your audience?

    sniff
    Member

    How long until the Premium Premium sub gets offered? 😉

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    If I access STW from a phone it automatically blocks that ad from appearing.

    But, if I access STW from a desktop/laptop its not blocked.

    And, if I access from a desktop/laptop tethered to a phone its not blocked either.

    The web pages you load can detect your browser and load various options depending on what they detect. Browsing the internet through a desktop browser across 3G/4G it will still detect a full browser and load the full bandwidth option.

    Kevsterjw
    Member

    I guess you can either go premium to STW, go unlimited on your broadband package or only browse on you mobile. They’ve got to make their money some way so i don’t mind the ads.

    mogrim
    Member

    If you tether your phone to your browser it’s basically a WiFi link as far as the computer is concerned – so anything on your PC/Mac/Linux that updates automatically will do so. This includes Adobe Reader, Windows Update, Outlook, etc. Any optimisation done by websites to limit bandwidth use for mobile users will also be ignored.

    I only ever use tethering for emergencies…

    grum
    Member

    Tethering on a limited data plan is fairly risky IMO.

    perthmtb
    Member

    They’ve got to make their money some way so i don’t mind the ads.

    As I said earlier – I have no objection to ads per se, and in fact find them quite useful/interesting – especially the T-shirt ones 😉

    Its just that this particular ad has cost me hard cash by automatically downloading five hours of video I didn’t ask for.

    Lets liken it to you buying a paper magazine – remember them! And with your magazine is packaged a VHS tape of some MTB vids. But you didn’t ask for the video, and you don’t even watch it. Then a day later you get a bill for 25 quid for the video. Would you pay it?

    3 would only allow me to tether on their unlimited data plan anyway, which is fine as it’s on sim only cheapie tariff. But as grum said and mogrim implied, you really don’t want to be tethering on a limited plan (IMO).

    perthmtb
    Member

    Tethering on a limited data plan is fairly risky IMO.

    Lets not get sidetracked by whether its tethering or a separate broadband plan. It doesn’t make any difference. Point is if you are on any data plan that has a limit, having 2 GB of video downloaded without you asking for it is going to blow a big hole in it.

    I’ve survived quite happily for the last three years with a broadband plan that gave me 2.7 GB a month. This is the first (OK second, but the wife and I have got over that little misunderstanding) time I’ve blown my monthly limit in three years and had to pay excess data charges.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I suppose another way of looking at it is;

    1) you want to visit stw regularly

    2) stw hosts auto streaming ads on some devices

    3) there’s a £15 a year option to restrict the display of these ads

    4) if you use a device that causes streaming then either pay the £15, use an unlimited data connection or stop visiting stw?

    I think it should perhaps be made clearer what EpicTV does.

    Even on unlimited connections such as work ones having an stw browser open for long periods even if you’re not visiting it is likely to cause eyes to be cast in your direction…

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    ^^ agreed.

    subscription only
    Why not? I get a nice mag every month and access to the best website on the internet.

    perthmtb
    Member

    I suppose another way of looking at it is;

    1) you want to visit stw regularly

    2) stw hosts auto streaming ads on some devices

    3) there’s a £15 a year option to restrict the display of these ads

    4) if you use a device that causes streaming then either pay the £15, use an unlimited data connection or stop visiting stw?

    5) STW realises that allowing auto streaming ads breaks the inherent trust between a website provider and its audience, and therefore asks it’s advertisers to show a little restraint

    There FTFY 😀

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    thing is that the EpicTV thing is a known quantity. STW know exactly what it’s doing so why is restraint needed?

    I guess there’s a commercial decision to be made about the revenue from runnign the ad v any fall off in site visitors that result.

    I suspect that getting £15/head off 10 people will make up for the ad revenue from a 1000+ casual visitors not coming back over the course of a year.

    Jamie
    Member

    How long until the Premium Premium sub gets offered?

    Some of us are already on it. Called Premier Gold. You get to dictate your posts to Mark, and he types them out for you.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    I can’t see the Epic TV thing so someone may have to tell me.

    How did you not notice it was playing and if it was at what point did you think hold it’s downloading here this is using bandwidth?

    I’m also intrigued as how your ISP knows it was Epic TV my previous ISP couldn’t tell me where bandwidth was being used.

    Premier Icon WEJ
    Subscriber

    Epic TV player doesn’t show on mobile devices. It’s desktop only. So it shouldn’t be using up anyone’s mobile data plans.

    I’m too far from the exchange to have a landline broadband, so I have a three mobile broadband account for home use. Limit is 15gb/month.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    How did you not notice it was playing

    well I notice it is playing when, erm, it is playing TV..!

    I think it is reasonable to expect that viewing a forum on any platform should not use 2GB of data (assuming everything the OP says is correct)

    grum
    Member

    Lets not get sidetracked by whether its tethering or a separate broadband plan. It doesn’t make any difference. Point is if you are on any data plan that has a limit, having 2 GB of video downloaded without you asking for it is going to blow a big hole in it.

    Which is why I have unlimited data on my mobile and at home. 🙂 It’s not even that expensive.

    I’d agree that having 2gb of video download without you asking for it is cheeky though.

    having 2gb of video download without you asking for it is cheeky though.

    That would appear to be the crux of the issue here. No problem with there being ads, as others have said, but just automatically using that much data seems ‘wrong’ somehow.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    I’m also intrigued as how your ISP knows it was Epic TV my previous ISP couldn’t tell me where bandwidth was being used.

    they were probably just too embarrassed to repeat the names of the websites over the phone. All your data goes through the ISP so unless you are using a proxy or something yes they know where you go on the internet. Pretty sure EU law means they have to retain the data for a year as an anti-crime measure.

    slackalice
    Member

    It’s the ‘rubbish fills space available’ maxim. In some ways, the Internet was simpler with 256kb dial up!

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    All your data goes through the ISP so unless you are using a proxy or something yes they know where you go on the internet

    Yup that’s exactly what they told me but they couldn’t tell me how much data I’d used on each site just how often it was visited. In the end I just checked the browsing history on my daughter’s laptop to find she’d been downloading shite movies from youtube. At that point I dumped the ISP for BT Unlimited and now it’s not an issues, I should have done it sooner with all the devices that connect to internet now and as said update along can be huge.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Subscriber

    How did you not notice it was playing and if it was at what point did you think hold it’s downloading here this is using bandwidth?

    When “Google Chrome Helper” was using 99% CPU time, and maxing out my network connection, when visiting a STW page.

    Actually, I had no idea why it was doing that, I just swapped back to Safari, assuming it was ad related in some way.

    whatnobeer
    Member

    The Epic TV player doesn’t show on mobile devices. It’s desktop only. So it shouldn’t be using up anyone’s mobile data plans.

    I may be remembering wrongly, and I’ll check later today, but I think the EpicTV add plays automatically on my Windows Phone, but its very obvious it’s doing it as it launches the video player to do it, so it takes over the whole screen. It may only do it when using the site on wifi (I don’t use the 3g much) but I would be surprised if the site/advert knew how I was connected other than just the browser type.

    FWIW, and this is going to sound harsh I suspect, if you’re using a limited data plan of any sort you need to set your browser to stop media content loading automatically. It’s the only way to be sure. This is especially true when tethering as you wont get automatically directed to the low bandwidth versions that mobile users get.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    well I notice it is playing when, erm, it is playing TV..!

    I think it is reasonable to expect that viewing a forum on any platform should not use 2GB of data (assuming everything the OP says is correct)

    Agreed, it hadn’t really occurred to me it would be doing anything nefarious, I was annoyed by it’s presence though, ‘still’ ads are far less distracting than moving ones.

    perthmtb
    Member

    Hi Drac,

    I’m not the most tech savvy guy, so I might not get some of the terms right here, but…

    Although I noticed there was this new ad appearing every time I looked at STW recently, and that it had some kind of video content which was always running, I assumed it was like a lot of other ads and was just a gif or flash that doesn’t use much data, so thought nothing more of it.

    Then I got an auto-notification from my broadband supplier to tell me that I’d exceeded my monthly plan and would be charged for extra data. They said I’d used 2 GB in two days. As I’d never used this much data in so short a time before I queried it, and asked them where it’d gone. I had to wait 48 hrs for their reply, but it came back that on one of the days in question I streamed 1 GB of data from a provider called “Epic TV” between 9:30pm and 11:15pm. Don’t ask me how they knew it was them – but they did.

    That didn’t ring a bell at first, but next time I logged onto STW – there it was – Epic TV! When I moused over the video this time I realised it wasn’t some flash loop or gif but was live streaming HD video like Youtube or Vimeo does. Furthermore it starts automatically as soon as you open STW, and even if you pause it, as soon as you go to the next page it starts up again!

    I’m in the habit of leaving STW on my screen all evening while I go away from the computer to do other stuff – have dinner, watch a bit of TV, etc. It turns out all that time Epic TV was downloading video – once one video clip ends, it moves straight onto the next.

    I think this is a questionable practice at best, and probably contravenes some consumer code of conduct somewhere. Either way, I’m not suggesting ads are banned, or even that video streaming is banned, but I think it should be ‘opt in’ ie you have to click on it before it starts gobbling your data allowance.

    Sorry for the lengthy explanation, but you did ask…

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Cheers PertMTB that will be helpful.

    whatnobeer
    Member

    I think this is a questionable practice at best, and probably contravenes some consumer code of conduct somewhere. Either way, I’m not suggesting ads are banned, or even that video streaming is banned, but I think it should be ‘opt in’ ie you have to click on it before it starts gobbling your data allowance.

    Bad coding and not well thought out (it will be costing them money to stream video that no one is watching) but I would doubt it breaks any consumer laws.

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