Sunday, July 13, 2003

Broadband Price Increases? (Not so fast . . . )

Came home to quite the surprise today. The Misses opens the mail, and -- Horror! -- Optonline, our broadband provider, has decided to crank up our monthly access fee to $49.95/mo.

Also arriving the same day, is an offer from Verizon DSL, for (get this) $29.95 (for the first 3 months, than it kicks up to $34.95). Still, $35 is a lot less than $50 clams, so we call Optonline (a division of Cablevision) to cancel.

They offer us the old price ($39.95/mo) til December 31, 2003. "Sure, O.K." we say, "No Strings attached? Um, thanks."

That makes me wonder how elastic internet/broadband pricing is. We've been wasting $15/mo with AOL's "Bring Your Own Service. I've had AOL since 1991, and 'though I hardly ever use it, I'm reluctant to give it up (dunno why).

I call AOL, tell them $15 is too much. Guess what? They instantlydrop the price to $9.95, good until December 31, 2003.

Don't take my word for it, make the calls yourself:

AOL : (800) 827-3338
Cablevision Optonline: (516) 364-8400
Verizon (516) 890-1550; (877) 525-2375

Some additional thoughts:

We had Verizon DSL about 2 years ago, and it was a disaster. The connection was intermittent, customer service was awful, and set up was arduous. How bad? There were so many complaints, that a large number of customers actually filed lawsuits, including some class actions Of course, the usual flame sites (See: for a typical example) popped up

I've heard Verizon's customer service has gotten considerably better; Note that this is based upon a rather small, scientifically insignificant anecdotal sampling.

On the flip side, Optonline customer service has been stellar; They are almost always up (rare lack of access), and where I live, we've hardly had any major congestions or slow downs. This is the exact opposite experience I had with Time Warner Cable (in NYC), as well as Cablevision (on Long Island) cable service. The connection quality was awful, mediocre picture quality, topped with lousy customer service. It's why we happily switched to Dish, which combined with TiVo, creates an awful tempting siren call to couch potatodom.

In all fairness, since that time (3 years ago), I've seen some improvements in picture qualitiy -- most notably in Cablevision's IO digital cable.

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