rewboss

World Wide Wait

World Wide Wait

Our ISP is a normally fairly good company, and has normally given us pretty decent service. Over the past few months, though, our connection has occasionally dropped, which is annoying, but I can live with that.

A few weeks ago, they called me to ask if I wouldn’t like to upgrade to a faster tariff, which was not only much faster (16 Mbps instead of the current 6 Mbps) but offered a whole bunch of other extras, and wouldn’t be so prone to crashing at inopportune moments, which was happening because the old system was overloaded. I discussed this with my wife and decided that, on the whole, we were happy with things as they were: the bandwidth we were getting was more than enough to watch videos in HD quality, we didn’t need any of the extra extras, and being disconnected once in a while was inconvenient, but not the end of the world. Besides, we reasoned, if everyone else switched to the faster tariff, the problem with overloading the wires would solve itself.

A few days later, we got a letter, asking us if we would like to upgrade… and so on. That went for recycling.

Today, our internet connection played up something rotten. It didn’t just occasionally disconnect; for the entire morning and some of the afternoon, it was down more than it was up. And then, lo and behold, I got a phone call. Guess who it was and what they were offering me.

A heated exchange followed. Part of it went as follows:

Me:
You want me to pay extra for services I have said I neither need nor want?
Rep:
Not very much more. Only four euros a month.
Me:
That’s still €4 more than I’m paying now.
Rep:
But you’ll get more bandwidth.
Me:
But I don’t need more bandwidth.
Rep:
How can you not need more bandwidth? Besides, you get lots of other extras.
Me:
But I don’t want any other extras. And my bandwidth is more than enough for what I do or want to do.

Incidentally, this “not very much” extra cost actually represents an almost 10% price rise. And as the conversation progressed, I learned some interesting facts. It turns out that our ISP has decided, unilaterally, that they can no longer afford the maintenance costs for the creaking old 6 Mbps network and want to switch everybody over to the 16 Mbps service. They’re not forcing anyone to do this, you understand; they’re just going to let the old system rot. To ensure that our internet connection remains usable (it won’t speed anything up in reality, as there are always things I can be doing during a long upload or a very rare long download), we are being made to pay 10% more, in the guise of a “special offer” which, of course, must end soon: a special low price for us and they’ll even waive the connection charge. Yes, but we’re still faced with a 10% increase just to keep things as they are (or rather: as they should be).

I’m sure they can’t actually do that, since we signed a contract which should obligate them to maintain the service to a certain standard; but it would be a long and expensive court battle to find out for sure, and I’m not sure I can stomach that.

So we have to decide what to do next. Do nothing, and hope they’re bluffing? Wait until the offer ends and see if the next offer is a 0% price rise? Switch now?

I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but this came with amazingly good timing, today being a day when I could hardly get online. Stranger coincidences have happened. But I do object very strongly to this almost mafia-like approach: “That’s a lovely internet connection you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it, wouldn’t it?” The only thing stopping us from finding a new provider is that the others are at least as bad.