Thursday, September 16

The stupidest company I’ve ever dealt with

Their slogan is a lie.

We have three accounts with an Internet provider that delivers via satellite. Our three business locations don’t have access to normal DSL via telephone line, and certainly not fiber. Somehow I picked HughesNet to provide our service. The company has a policy that if you use more than your allotted 200 to 375 or whatever megabytes of allowance (depending on your plan) in a single day, they reduce the speed of your Internet connection to roughly that of a dial-up service for an entire 24 hours. No matter if you used far less than your allotment in previous days, just go over in a single 24-hour period and you’re toast.

Recently I was fascinated to watch a very long video of a TED conference where Apple Inc’s Steve Jobs was being interviewed by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. I was really getting an understanding of the philosophy of this most-admired and most successful CEO in America (98% of Apple employees give him the highest marks, more than any other top boss in the country). Our Apple stock closed today at $276.57, so naturally I was very interested. Near the end of the video, the stream stopped and I got a warning that I had exceeded my 375MB for the day. Bummer. I couldn’t watch the conclusion.

The following day I logged on and noticed that I was being punished by the idiotic dial-up-speed policy. So I called their toll-free number to see if I could do something about it. After navigating their menus “Press 2, Press 3…” I got hold of someone in either the Philippines or India whose English was not just a second language, but maybe a fifth. It turned out that I had violated not just one, but two of the company’s policies. First, I exceeded their allotment of megabytes. Second, it happened to be the day they automatically billed a credit card for payment for their service. Double whammy! The credit card had been spammed by some bad guys a few weeks ago and HughesNet didn’t have my new card number. I gave them the new number and what happened next defies logic. This non-English speaker started to read to me the entire contract of service, pausing after each three-minute-long paragraph of arcane legalese to ask me if I agreed to the terms. After several paragraphs that included how to contact them by phone or by sending an email or a letter to an address in Germantown Virginia I said STOP! THIS IS RIDICULOUS TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH FOR A SIMPLE CHANGE OF A CREDIT CARD NUMBER! I told the rep that I absolutely hated her company and its idiotic policies. (A month ago I had to sit through one hour and forty-five minutes with a bumbling inexperienced tech idiot in India and was really fired up.) She of course apologized and said it was required that I agreed to the “new” arrangement. I told her that giving a new credit card number was not like setting up a whole new account. I told her that she was working for a company run by idiots. I really unloaded on her. I was really steamed. I hope she goes back to being a basket weaver. It will be better for her mental health.

In contrast, later in the day I contacted the billing department of The Economist, a magazine that renews annually by billing my credit card. I gave them the new number. They thanked me and wished me a nice day. The transaction was done in maybe two minutes. The HughesNet call took over a half hour.

I am definitely going to switch to another Internet provider when the current contracts expire. I know of one that averages users’ needs and won’t shut them down if they exceed their allotment on a single day. It means investing in all-new equipment, but at least I get out of having to talk to the Philippines or India when I have a problem. I hope.


Pete S. said...

Wow. I will keep this in mind if I need satellite internet.

Tom Hurley said...

You betcha, to quote Sarah Palin. But you'll probably never need satellite Internet.
Lately the local telephone company has been tearing up the foothills to lay fiber optic to the boondocks. In a couple of years we may have something that equals the Big Cities!

Pat said...

Just last week I lost my credit card. Have absolutely no idea where, so I called Merrill Lynch and they immediately shut down the old number. So far haven't had any problems. Two and a half days later my new card arrived by UPS. That seemed like pretty good service. And it was easy to give out the new number, too. Didn't have to contact anyone in India or Siberia, either.

Tom Hurley said...

How nice to deal with professionals. As I remember my first contact with HughesNet left me with a slight feeling that I could be making a mistake. Their Web site had spelling errors and other hints that they could be a little less than authentic. It turns out that they are truly idiots. Period.

Luke P. said...

This happens almost everyday at the ranch because we have half the band width you have. We don't abuse it but when this internet gives access to 20+ people daily we work with it and manage.