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
    My heart bleeds, 2 Dec 2006 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Now wait just one damn second...

    Oh come on. The ISPs sell us things like "unlimited bandwidth", "blazing fast speeds", or "guaranteed uptime", and when we pay for those services, we get hidden bandwidth caps, timeout errors, latency, and servers that are not up. I have no sympathy for the poor ISP who is overcharging me to not provide me with the service they sold me if they can't keep their servers up or handle their own spam filtering.

    If Qmail or Postfix can't do the job, then I expect that the large amounts of money that I and all their other subscribers are sending them will buy them the programs that will.

    You are right, though, that we all want dedicated mail processing, at least insofar as we want to be able to get our mail when we want to. If that requires that the ISP buy more servers or different ones, then so be it. They have already told us that we are getting a reliable email service. All I want is for them to give it to us.

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