ISP Customer Service a Dead Art Form?

from the lets-hope-nobody-notices-our-screw-up dept

The e-mail and connection reliability of major ISPs frequently leaves plenty to be desired. MIA e-mail is most frequently thanks to botched spam fighting efforts, such as when Verizon customers suddenly stopped getting e-mail from outside the country. Or more recently when BellSouth's spam fighting system was so poorly implemented, people weren't getting any e-mail, forcing them to revert to their previous spam fighting solution. Huge outages thanks to network upgrades or transfers is also a concern, as many of the customers caught in the Adelphia, Comcast, and Time Warner cable switcharoo can attest.

PBS's Bob Cringely laments that there really are no consumer protections for these kinds of outages, and that ISPs are increasingly willing to bumble their way through botched network upgrades or capacity issues while hoping impacted customers don't notice. Users seem increasingly willing to click through mouse-print EULAs that leave them with no room to complain if their service stinks. One obvious solution would be to upgrade to a business line with some kind of reliability guarantee - but if the best solution is to upgrade to a more expensive business line, isn't this just encouraging ISPs to make their consumer lines worse and worse in order to convince everyone to upgrade?

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  1. identicon
    Unabashed Critic, 2 Dec 2006 @ 8:45am

    I must be doing something wrong...

    I run a fairly small, ISP with both dialup and terrestrial wireless broadband services.

    What I find hard to comprehend is that my customers freak out when their service has ANY kind of difficulty for more than about 10 minutes, (we usually have it fixed rather quickly.)

    From what I read here, many ISP customers go days or weeks with problems. Are my customers more high-strung than everyone else's, or do they simply have unrealistic expectations? If I could only get them to realize how bad it is with other providers, maybe my life wouldn't get so stressful when the mail server or a hilltop radio unit hiccups for a few minutes.

    Any advice?

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