It’s no secret that most Americans really don’t like their Internet service providers and now Ars Technica has reached out to its reader base to get a better understanding of exactly why Americans hold their ISPs in such low esteem. What emerges, Ars finds, is consumers who are fed up with “high prices, data caps, absurd policies, and incompetence.”
One Ars reader, for example, reports that Time Warner Cable has sent him an absurd array of bills that range from just $15 all the way up to $145. Because the terminology in the bills was so confusing, the reader said that he had no way to know what he was being charged for or why his bills would fluctuate so wildly for no apparent reason.
“I had to actually go to the local TWC office to get them to sort this out,” he explains. “Come to find out, what happened was that when the second guy came out, he did something that bumped me up to regular cable. They also tried to charge me for the digital adapters, even though by US law they are supposed to be free until 2015. I had to make two trips out there to get it all settled, and finally I resorted to recording the conversation with the manager where they told me that my bill would be X $/mo. I’m still waiting to see if my next bill matches what I have them on record as saying it will be.”
Another Time Warner Cable customer tells Ars that he has tried in vain to escape being charged a $6 monthly rental fee for an Internet modem that until recently was offered for free. When the subscriber tried to bypass Time Warner Cable by buying his own modem, the company locked him out of service and insisted that he fork over $6 per month just so he can access the service he’s already paying for in monthly subscription fees.
And of course, no round of American ISP-bashing would be complete without looking at pricing and data caps. Another Ars reader claims to “pay $120/month for 30GB” of data on Verizon’s HomeFusion plan. What’s more, the reader says that “even worse, Comcast has fiber down the main road but wants to charge $20,000 to run it the 800ft to my house!”
With stories like these, it’s easy to see why American ISPs have lower customer satisfaction ratings than even airlines. But as long as they get to keep the regional monopolies they’ve built and don’t face any competitive pressures to change, it looks like we’ll have to keep dealing with them for years to come.