Verizon Sued For Promising Faster Broadband Than It Could Deliver

from the up-to dept

Years ago, we used to joke about the prevalence of "up to" language in the marketing around any kind of broadband connection. You'd see claims of speeds that could be reached in huge letters, but right before that, in fine print, would be an "up to." So sign up now to get "up to" 3 Mb per second. Of course that means anything less than that qualifies. Hell, they could argue any top speed, and as long as they included the "up to," they could get away with it. Eventually there was some cracking down on that and some threats that such language was potentially misleading, and companies have been somewhat (but not totally) clearer in describing their speeds. But, when it comes to DSL, there are other problems as well, including the general limitations on speed based on how far you are from the central office (CO). For reasons that still escape me, DSL providers seem notoriously bad at being able to predict ahead of time just how far you really are and what kind of speeds you can get. In the past, I've had these arguments with my DSL provider -- even to the point where a few years ago, when I had terrible DSL (despite living in the middle of Silicon Valley), I actually had an AT&T rep tell me that the company never should have provisioned my DSL because I was simply "too far" from the CO.

Either way, this confusion over distance has resulted in a new lawsuit -- which is trying to become a class action lawsuit -- against Verizon in California for over-promising speeds. This isn't just about the "up to" speeds being marketed. In this case, a woman was convinced to upgrade her account from a 768k top speed account to a 1.5 Mb top speed account -- at $10 more per month -- only to find that her line could only handle the 768k, based on her distance from the CO. She then had a Verizon rep tell her she should downgrade her account, but the company was unwilling to reimburse her for the higher fees she paid on a level of service she couldn't technically get.

Whether or not this specific suit has merit, it does highlight just how confused the DSL providers often are, where each time you call or speak to a rep, you will get different info. In another situation that I once had, I called to sign up for DSL a few years ago, and the rep told me that I couldn't get it at my location. When I said I was surprised, she told me to wait as she tried it on her "other computer," and that one said I could get DSL. It seems that even the DSL providers don't seem to have very good or consistent information themselves, so it's little surprise that customers get conflicting reports -- some of which lead them to paying too much for services they can't actually use.

Filed Under: dsl, speed
Companies: at&t, verizon


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2012 @ 10:15pm

    I'm not impressed at all that the Verizon rep told you different things about DSL availability when she was looking at another computer. I'd call that slightly more consistency than I would expect from AT&T on the matter.

    A little background. At the time, (Dec. 2008 - Jan. 2009) I was an AT&T apologist. I was mainly focused on wireless service, but I was more than willing to try their DSL. So I jumped through several hoops at a wireless store one day, getting new DSL service attached to my wireless bill.

    It was to be installed by a technician a week later, and I was told I would need merely to plug in my (free!) modem and complete a short self-install procedure on my end.

    Awesome. I had already moved in to my new place, but there were several open wi-fi networks in the neighborhood, so I was not without a connection.

    A week later, I plugged in my modem and initiated the process, only to find that it did not work. I spent almost two hours on the phone, before I learned what the problem was. The sales drone had mistakenly entered my service order twice, and three days later when someone in another department caught it, instead of (a) calling to confirm or (b) canceling one of the orders, they canceled both and did nothing to inform me. No one had come out to set up my service at all.

    So I got one of the orders reinstated and I was told a technician would get everything lined out two days later.

    Two days later, I initiated the self-install process and got the same result as before. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with customer service representatives who knew NOTHING before I finally got transferred to the nicest, most knowledgeable CS representative I've ever spoken to - she said she was in the Philippines - who told me the tech who came to set up my line reported back that the location needed an additional line added to add DSL and that he did not have the equipment to do so. I got another appointment scheduled for three days later. I was beginning to get irritated.

    But I waited the three days. And I got a fantastic installer who told me he had no idea why he was summoned, because when he looked at our line, everything was already in order when he got there. There was nothing additional for him to do, except turn it on.

    And turn it on he did. The service worked quickly and reliably for three weeks, when I got an automated phone call from AT&T telling me that "location is unsuitable for DSL service" and that my order will be cancelled. No number to call. Nowhere to follow up. Nothing. And this after I was obviously using the service! After several attempts, no one at AT&T could get my service turned back on.

    So two days later, the cable company hooked up their service giving me twice the speed at the same price. I was so fed up with AT&T's customer service that I not only canceled my wireless and landline services, but I went and GOT A JOB at Sprint.

    For the next three months, I got an automated call every Wednesday from AT&T's credit department that was vague and ominous. Every time I called the number it gave, the representatives said that they were familiar with the call, but that my account could not be found anywhere.

    In short, AT&T is, to me, the worst company in America, and I've spent the last 3 years on a personal mission to take away their customers. From every division. And I tell this story to everyone who dares to tell me they like anything AT&T does.

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