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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
    Jack Brown, 2 Dec 2006 @ 2:48pm

    Cost cutting is gutting big providers, go with loc

    Having been in IT for about 20 years, I can say I've seen every side of this argument- and the trend of lower support quality coming from way back.

    Big corporations are run by accountants who only look at how much they can cut. Ship all the jobs overseas ("we don't have a choice" they say). Run projects, like major network upgrades, with junior personnel or India grads and do what should have taken 3 months planning in 1 month. Well, guess what happens! The accountants don't care about the results or your customer satisfaction (their strategy was just fine, it was the IT execution that failed). Yeah right. Welcome to IT Service in the 21st century. Get used to it, it won't get better.

    Mindspring had good support generally, for many years. Earthlink got worse and worse, until I dumped them for a smaller, local provider that has their act together. Local, english-speaking techs who actually know what they are talking about - works wonders. Service is up for 6 months or more without any hiccup- that is what most people paying MONEY for the service want. Go Speedfactory.net, you guys rock.

    As for stupid users. Yep, the exist. Been dealing with 'em for years. But you know what? They gave you their money. So deliver the service and help then when they need it. And learn how to deal with unhappy and yes sometimes even unreasonable customers- it's a skill many technical people don't have but is considered NECESSARY in most of the rest of the business world. Welcome the the real world. Do a better job - or watch your job go to SE Asia.

    Fire your big ISP if they interrupt service more than twice a month. Find a small or local provider that does a good job (that their local is no guarantee so do your homework - gee, another lesson from the real world).

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