Yep. This happens from time to time, presumedly less and less often though as we increase the bandwidth consumption we include with our hosting plans.
If it's a big surprise, and someone is concerned about having trouble paying their bill, we've been known to find ways to help them out financially. It never hurts to ask.
We are also available to give tips on better resource usage, ie. by using mod_gzip or streamlining graphics or changing the structure of a site. Sometimes people run up high bandwidth bills by simply putting too much on their site's main pages.
One other thing we've been careful about doing is letting people know that they're likely to go over their bandwidth cap, before they ever do. We have an automated system that 'predicts' overage costs due to such usage spikes, and tries to give fair warning via email.
Unfortunately, even that doesn't work too well if you suffer from the dreaded Slashdot Effect™ and it all spikes up in the span of a single day or two. Luckily, only maybe 5% of our customers ever get close to their bandwidth cap - and those that do are usually pretty savvy about making money from all that traffic, and can pay for it.
- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin