When you’re signing up for home Internet there’s no shortage of flashy headlines out there (Gigabit Internet! $30 Internet!)…but there’s also no shortage of FINE PRINT, which many companies hope you don’t read at all (why else would they put it in size 8 font?)
Be clear on what you’re getting from the start! We’ve broken down the five most important questions you should ask before signing up for an Internet provider to ensure you are getting the speed, service level and price you think you are.
- Can you quote me a final all-in price per month over the phone, including all taxes and fees?
If they can’t quote you an all-in monthly price ahead of time, how do they expect you to sign up with them? What recourse do you have when a bill shows up with line items you had no idea about (but which were alluded to in the “fine print”)? Internet providers tack on sneaky fees like monthly “Wi-Fi fees” that they do not include in their advertised price. Don’t sign if they can’t give you a list of what all your fees are ahead of time so you can agree if it’s worth it or not!
- What will my monthly price increase to after the first year?
Internet Providers often offer low “teaser” rates to lure in customers, then hike up the price six months to one year after signing. The fine print usually reads that they have the right to raise your rate to “standard prices” after a given amount of time. So ask them – what will that standard rate be? Is it double the price? How much will your bill go up? If they can’t tell you, something’s fishy.
- Do you guarantee your Internet speeds? (And…If they say they do, does their agreement mention “up to” speeds?)
The State of New York is currently suing Spectrum for conducting a “business built on deceit” due to them lying to customers about the Internet speeds they are actually getting (versus what they are paying for). If they can’t guarantee their speeds, why can’t they? And if they say that they can, can they confirm that their fine print talk about “up to” speeds?
- Will your speeds slow down during Internet peak hours? If not, why does it say “speeds may vary?”
Most providers give you a shared connection, as opposed to a private connection, which is why they are not able to guarantee speeds. In these cases, during the peak hours (like after work) when many people are streaming and online, there’s simply not enough bandwidth to go around…and hence, you get BUFFERING! Who wants that?
- If I’m having a problem with my service, is there a way to talk on the phone with someone without automated voice mazes and waiting on hold for a long time?
Customer service is key when it comes to having to make adjustments to your service or to lodge a complaint. Unfortunately, if they have to wait for hours for a live person to pick up, most customers will just give up. What can this company provide in terms of customer recourse? Is their customer service team based in the US, or are they a separate outsourced company where the reps have little power to help customers?
No one likes the sticker shock of seeing a bill they hadn’t anticipated for a service that’s far less stellar than what they thought. The good news? A few of these places have allowed consumers out of their service agreement within the first month. So, if you find you’ve been duped, call before it’s too late!