Last updated: September 30, 2020
Hate Your ISP? You’re Not Alone
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With over 85% of its population online, America is one of the top Internet users of any country in the world. The average American spends over 20 hours a week online, checking email, playing games, and interacting on social networks. We love the web so much, we're even considering adding Internet addiction to the list of officially recognized mental disorders.
And we're fiercely diligent about protecting our right to go online: Anyone who gets in the way of our Internet access will have hell to pay.
Which begins to explain why Internet service providers (ISPs) are among the most hated companies in America.
In many areas, ISPs hold a monopoly over Internet service, leaving many Americans with no choice when it comes to choosing a provider. Because they face little or no competition, ISPs can get away with charging premium prices; far more than in other countries.
Talk to a few Americans about their ISP, and you're more than likely to hear a few horror stories about their customer service. Stories of data caps, speed throttling, or abusive customer service representatives seem to go viral every week.
Despite that fact, these ISPs still charge premium rates for the right to go online, even when the service they offer doesn't match up to the prices.
In fact, despite paying such high prices, Americans have among the slowest Internet speeds in the world. It's ironic that America likes to claim a monopoly on freedom, while our Internet access, which offers unprecedented freedom of speech and information, is held back by our ISPs. Yet countries like South Korea, which heavily censor Internet access, provide lighting-fast speeds at much lower prices.
Though sometimes the vitriol against ISPs can seem a little over the top, Americans have good reasons to hate our ISPs. Until the day have access to alternatives like Google Fiber, which would force the ISPs to improve in order to compete, we have to put up with them. But that doesn't mean we have to like it!
5 Reasons Everyone Hates Their ISP
It's no secret that American Internet Service Provides suck - but why do we hate them so much?
Here's five reasons justifying our murderous rage towards the ISP's:
1 - They Leave Customers Dissatisfied
According to the 2013 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI):
- ISPs had an overall score of 65 out of 100 (100 being a perfect score)
- This score was the lowest of ANY industry
- The ISP's failed to "deliver on any aspect of customer service in a particularly impressive fashion"
The highest score for a single ISP was only 71/100 for Verizon Communications
Every ISP (except for Cox and Verizon) was in the bottom 15 worst companies, for consumer satisfaction.
2 - They Treat People Badly
According to the ACSI for 2013, the lowest score related to customer experience for ISPs is 62/100 for call center satisfaction.
Worst Company in America 2014 - Comcast
(Comcast received 51.5% of the vote.)
2 time winner - Comcast previously won Worst Company in America in 2010
Does that surprise anyone?
According to Google Trends, based on the search terms:
- "Comcast sucks"
- Seattle hates Comcast the most
- "Verizon sucks"
- Philadelphia hates Verizon the most
- "AT&T sucks"
- Chicago hates AT&T the most
When ArsTechnica had its readers share their most distressing tales of internet woes, they got more than 300 comments in response, all flaming the ISPs.
One AT&T customer claimed that he had received an unpaid bill addressed to a stranger after AT&T recycled the account number.
AT&T customer service decided to fix their mistake by:
- Reportedly accusing the customer of lying
- Failing to understand why being billed on someone else's behalf was even an issue.
- Demanding the customer to pay the stranger's bill
3 - They Offer Poor Service
Although ISPs managed to score terribly on pretty much every aspect of service measured, their god-awful service dominates the list.
Scores are out of 100, and range from bad on reliability and quality to worse on available options and service:
- 70/100 - Performance of Internet service during peak hours
- 70/100 - Website satisfaction
- 70/100 - Quality of video streaming
71% of consumers would bail on their ISP if it tried to impede or charge extra for bandwidth-heavy services like Netflix and Skype
A note to the ISPs - Never try to come between your customers and Bryan Cranston, they will claw your eyes out.
4 - They Rip You Off
The average monthly cost of home communications services is $154.
Pricing varies widely among companies and regions.
- Higher DSL speeds can cost up to $30 a month at Verizon and $43 at AT&T.
- Time Warner Cable and Verizon charge about $80 a month for 50Mbps.
- Comcast offers 50 mbps service for about $115 a month.
The average connection speed in the US is just 9.8Mbps.
- The average connection speed in South Korea is more than x2 that.
The best "triple play" deal (cable, internet and phone) in:
- Lafayette, Louisiana, would be $121/month for 5Mbps.
- Seoul, South Korea, would be $35/month for 100Mbps.
5 - They're a Monopoly
The variety of internet plans available in the US was rated the 2nd worst type of customer experience in the 2013 ACSI3.
According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report;
Despite being ranked No.1 for GDP… the US rank No.35 for internet bandwidth per user.
In February 2014, Comcast announced that it had agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable.
This would increase Comcast's market share to:
- 30 million subscribers
- Roughly 30% of the broadband market
52% of people believe mergers like the Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal are bad for consumers.
Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon, with emerging competition like Google Fiber. Others should appear in time, forcing the ISPs to improve.
- Internet horror stories: How ISPs screwed over Ars readers - arstechnica.com
- Comcast Shareholders Hate Their Cable Company Too - bizjournals.com
- Why Americans Hate Internet Service Providers More Than Any Other Industry - businessinsider.com
- Do You Hate Your Internet Provider? - cnn.com
- Congratulations To Comcast, You're 2014 Worst Company In America! - consumerist.com
- 71% of U.S. Households Would Switch from Providers That Attempt to Interfere with Internet - consumerreports.org
- How to Save Money on Triple-Play Cable Services - consumerreports.org
- Save a Bundle on Your Tech Bills - online.wsj.com
- Americans Take Dim View of Comcast, Time Warner Cable Deal - reuters.com
- ACSI Telecommunications and Information Report 2013 - theacsi.org
- Benchmarks By Industry - theacsi.org
- Congratulations To Comcast, Your 2014 Worst Company In America! - consumerist.com
- Internet Horror Stories: How ISPs Screwed over Ars Readers - arstechnica.com
- Comcast Shareholders Hate Their Cable Company Too - bizjournals.com