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. icon
    Nick Burns (profile), 21 Apr 2012 @ 10:10pm

    Wow! Talk about deja vu! This has happened to me too. I tried to upgrade from Verizon's low end to their top tier of 7Mbps for $40, only to have rotten to no internet connection. Verizon then had a tech come out to look at the line and the first thing out of his mouth was that I was simply too far (19,000ft) and to get the 7Mbps I needed to be within 7,000ft.
    He checked the line and it was only getting about 2Mbps and said the reason the modem keeps dropping is because the office was trying to push too much info down the line. He said he would go up and down the block to check and/or improve the line. He came back about 1/2 hour later to check the line and was only able to improve it to 2.5Mbps. He told me they should never have sold me the service because of the distance. He told me FIOS was not available in my area (Verizon stopped the rollout due to a dispute with the city) and that I could "try" the 2nd tier, but feared it may still be too much. I did try that, but the connection was still too flaky.
    He said my only other choice was to try TimeWarner Cable (TWC). I could get 15Mbps for the same price as Verizon's 7Mbps. So I called Verizon to go back to the low tier, just so I can get some connection.
    I then ordered TWC and I'm now hitting between 15-30Mbps. Pretty sweet. We're keeping Verizon for a bit while we get our email accounts fully switched to GMail.
    The only other thing I have to clear up now is the charge for the modem(s) (yes they sent 2, one regular and one wireless/router/modem). I was told these were being sent out as no charge, so I now have that dispute to contend with.
    My ordeal only lasted about a week before switching to TWC, so, although they sold me a service I technically can't receive, I was able to get the credits for the service change.
    Now to deal with those modem charges.

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