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
    J, 2 Dec 2006 @ 4:24pm

    Re: DSL

    I work for a mid-sized ISP. I have exactly the same problem Carole does. I live too far out for the local Teleco to put in DSL. That is the core of the problem. ALL DSL is controlled by the Telephone company. If they do not put in the capabilities then we the ISPs cannot offier it. It isn't that we don't want to, or can't afford to, it is the big-F*-monopoly that decides where it is available. On top of this there are several smaller, _rural_, telephone companies around here that won't even let us into their networks so that we can offer DSL. They don't have to. They are protected by the FCC.

    We process several thousand email messages per minute over several server machines. We spam block, using several methods. All email will have one of 3 outcomes... 1) delivered normally, 2) delivered to the spam folder on our server, or 3) returned to sender. ALL email that hits 3, is stopped at the initial SMTP connection. That means the sedning server has to bounce it, not us. I still have users how cannot grasp this simple trio of outcomes for email. They want all the mail to reach them. Then they call to complain that they get too much spam.

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