A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to come over to help him put an antivirus program on his computer. I got there, figured out what he’d done, and went through the process of uninstalling what he had and downloading an antivirus program I use all the time.

by technoloic via Flickr

by technoloic via Flickr

His download was going really slow so I asked him about it. He’d dropped Time Warner’s Road Runner some months earlier to save money and then had decided to go for Verizon’s 3-for-1 package of TV, phone and internet, as he’d also given up his home number almost a year earlier. The technician had just been there the day before to install everything, so there shouldn’t have been any problems.

I decided to run a speed test, and the site I usually go to is Speakeasy Speedtest. I ran it and his speed topped out at 1.15 MBPS. That’s barely faster than the slowest “hi-speed” internet service you can get; that made no sense. I ran it a few times using the Chrome browser; browsers have nothing to do with download speed but you’ll know why I mentioned it in a few minutes. I told him that Verizon tells people their minimum speed is around 3 MBPS, and of course Road Runner just went up to 15 MBPS, so we knew there was a problem.

He got on the phone to contact customer service. After 10 minutes or so someone comes on the phone to take care of his problem, and I immediately knew we were in for a long time. Like most call centers, they employ people who have no idea of how to take care of your problem. Instead, they have a manual that they go through, and they say that you have to go through all these steps with them or else they can’t take care of your problem; sigh…

For the next 15 minutes we went through trivial things I knew made no sense, but that’s how it goes. We had to reboot the computer. We had to run the speed test again, this time on Internet Explorer using their recommended site, Speedtest.net; same result. We had to turn off the antivirus, even though I had just loaded it and thus knew it wasn’t the program slowing anything down. We had to reboot the computer up into safe mode with networking and then run the speed tests again… nothing. After a few more things which resulted in nothing she said she had to talk to a technical specialist. That took another 10 minutes of waiting, but at least she did come back a couple of times to say she was still waiting for an answer.

When her response came, it seemed ridiculous at first. She said that they had on file that because of the location of his house, the fastest speed he could ever get would be 1.5 MPBS. That made no sense, as he lives in the Tippary Hill area, but that was pretty much that. She passed him along to the billing department so they could change the rate of what he was being charged based on their promise of 3 MBPS as a minimum. As I thought about it all I realized the problem wasn’t his neighborhood, but the city of Syracuse in general; they don’t have FIOS! Many of the outlying areas have FIOS, the high speed fiber optic cable that can bring multiple speeds depending on what you want to pay for, but in the city… nada. That he was told one thing, then had to spend all that time on the phone waiting for information that they should have had readily available was almost insulting.

This is one of those times when relatively good customer service was inept in more ways than one. It was also appalling that sales didn’t know this information up front, wanting to get the sale more than take care of a potential new customer, as he still would have probably purchased the TV and phone package. He’s planning on switching to Road Runner internet service for more speed, and now lamenting what he had to go through. This is more of an informational piece about getting specific information on how things will work in your location than a bashing of Verizon, although I guess both can occur at once.

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