After years of getting my internet service through Earthlink, I’ve finally given up on them.
Let me preface this by giving you an idea of how long I’ve been an Earthlink customer. My first real ISP (read: not AOL) was Netcom (this is reflected by my primary email address). I became a Netcom customer in the early 90’s. Eventually, Netcom was bought by Mindspring, which was eventually bought out by Earthlink. I stayed a customer all this time because the packages they offered remained the same as what I had, and initially, Earthlink’s customer support was excellent. I kept the service through three moves, eventually upgrading to DSL service when it became available.
In recent years Earthlink’s customer support has gone down the drain (it’s been outsourced), and their pricing has not remained competitive. But, I’ve stayed with them. I think the main thing, really, is that I didn’t want to switch my primary email address, which I’ve had since before most people even knew what the internet was. I’ve been able, in the past, to get them to lower my monthly rates when I’d call to see if 6.0 Mbps service was available in my area yet. Since it hasn’t been (until very recently), I’d complain that for the price I was paying for 3.0 I easily could go elsewhere and get faster service. The deal I got that way expired months ago, but I still stayed.
I called last week to see if the 6.0 service was available for me yet. I knew they had recently done DSL maintenance in my area, and sure enough I could finally get 6.0. I tried to get them to give it to me for the introductory rate, but the CSR refused. I expected as much, but it was worth a shot. She did say that she could give me the 6.0 service for $44.95 a month, so I accepted.
Well, yesterday the automatic billing went through, and it was for $54.95 a month! I logged into my account details, and sure enough, it listed my rate as $54.95. So, I called and asked to cancel my account. I knew they would try to keep me if I threatened to cancel, but I had no idea they wouldn’t try all that hard. (Before I called, I looked up what AT&T was offering so I’d have a little more ammo.)
I explained that I recently upgraded my service to 6.0 and was told I could get it for $44.95 a month, but was being billed at $54.95 a month. They told me they couldn’t go any lower than that, and didn’t seem to care that I had been lied to. I told them that I could get the same speed from AT&T for $35 a month, and that wasn’t an introductory rate. After trying to convince me that the speeds were somehow different, they said they could give me a monthly credit for $4.95, to bring the price down to $50. So, what they offered was still higher than what I was told it would be in the first place, and $15 higher than the competition. He said that was the best he could do, and I said “That’s why I called to cancel my service.”
It didn’t end there, he kept trying to convince me that the service was different, and kept touting the $4.95 a month credit. But, I just kept telling him that that was why I was canceling the service. He pretty much refused to acknowledge that I wanted to cancel, but wouldn’t offer anything better than the credit to try to keep me.
Finally, I got him to put through the cancellation (he tried to get me to keep my email address for $4 a month, which I laughed at).
Now, I’m not a huge fan of AT&T, but both our cellphone and home phone service have been fine through them. Moving to a new primary email address will be a pain in the ass, but for $240 a year difference (and that’s not including any deals that AT&T offers for bundled service), it’s worth it. I will miss the unlimited Usenet access that I was getting through Earthlink, but not that much. I haven’t been using it much lately, just downloading (legal) live music from time to time, so it’s not that big of a deal.
Bad customer service and non-competitive rates are no way to keep a loyal customers. Goodbye, Earthlink, and good riddance!