The End of my Failed Experiment
I had been watching all of the commercials for Verizon’s FIOS service and reading a million articles on the internet that made it seem awesome. When FIOS became available in my neighborhood, I jumped right on the bandwagon. I was going to be burning through the web, watching a million hi-def tv channels, and generally just riding the wave of the future. Well, things aren’t always what they seem.
I have had cable forever Cablevision or Comcast depending on where I lived. When we moved into our new house, we got the Optimum Online “Triple Play” for the house. I didn’t have a Hi-Def TV
Here is my cautionary tale about Verizon’s Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time service.
What FIOS Promised
They promised “Amazing Hi Definition Television“, “Blazing Fast Internet“, and “Crystal Clear Phone Calling“. They also advertised a bunch of special pricing plans that seemed pretty good. They talk about things like “Multi-Room DVR” which will allow you to watch your recorded shows in any room in the house. (This is great, but you have to pay for each box separately.)
They also promised one other thing, a 2 YEAR CONTRACT. If you cancel early because they are horrible, you have to pay them $200. That’s right, if they suck, you have to pay. I’m going to try to work that into my next employment contract. “Hey boss if I do a lousy job and you have to fire me, then I want you to pay me an Early Termination Fee, because it’s YOUR fault.”
Results – What FIOS REALLY Delivered
Verizon hates customers like George Bush hates the Constitution.
The Internet service was “fine“. Certainly not the “Blazing Fast Speeds” that they make it out to be. I was really expecting a bit more “pop”. When I switched back to Cable, the first thing that I noticed was that Cable seemed more snappy. Not in overall speed, but how quickly sites were connected and started to load. I suspect this might have more to do with their DNS services than either of their actual bandwidth speeds.
As far as FIOS’s new offer of 50 megabit downloads, what’s the point? You show me one site, service, or network that will allow you to benefit from that. Just because you can pull down 50 mbs, does not mean that iTunes, YouTube, or BitTorrent can send it to you that fast.
The television service is a mixed bag.
The Good – The very few Hi-Definition channels that they had are spectacular. The picture is crisp and stunning. (All three channels!) Seriously it was about 20 HD channels.
The Bad – Every service and device are extra. You want Hi-Def, pay up. You want a DVR, pay up. Did you want to record in HD, that’s even more. On Demand movies are an extra dollar (Compared to Comcast and Cablevision).
The Ugly – The selection of On Demand titles was much smaller and the navigation was a puzzling maze of confusion. To add to the confusion, the Channel Guide would freeze up more often than a shy kid in a public restroom.
They’re the “Phone Company”, this is where they should really shine, right? WRONG! They installed the service and the phone worked fine. (For about an hour.) 45 minutes on the phone with the worst customer service ever and we get another technician to the house. (Another day of waiting around.) This guy was much better, we got about an hour and a half this time. Now I called out the heavy hitters, I put my wife on the job. She called and got some more terrible service and for the second time was told that it was OUR fault and we would have to pay them to do their jobs. Well, one more service call and one more hour of being able to use our phone.
Finally, I went to Home Depot and got a roll of phone cable. I went into the basement and connected the cable to the phone jacks and pulled it back to where the wires come into the house. I hooked Green to Green and Red to Red and presto, we had a dial tone. Amazingly, this worked until we finally shut off the service. Total Time: 25 minutes (No tipping required either.)
Just as our patience with FIOS was wearing thin, we received an offer in the mail from Cablevision. They would give us a substantially discounted rate on the same services that we had from FIOS if we would just come back. That’s great, but what about that nasty $200 cancellation fee for terminating my contract early. Oh yeah, they’ll pay that too.
Why Phone Company contracts suck. Your service is sooooo good that you need to force me to promise not to leave you. If I do leave your “Amazing” service, I have to pay you cash for driving me away. Well, if your service was any good, why would I leave? You’re just telling me that you suck and if I ever figure it out, then you’re going to punish me. Well, I figured it out.
That was pretty good right there, but my wife was not satisfied. She got on the phone and put the screws to them to get a bigger discount, 12 free HBO channels and a free DVR for two years. (By the way, the Hi-Def DVR does not cost extra.)
When the Cablevision installer came to hook us back up, I asked him if he was seeing a lot of people coming back from FIOS. He had three more “reconnections” scheduled that day.
Why I’m Still Glad that FIOS Exists
One word: COMPETITION! The cable companies have been the only game in town forever. Consequently, they have raped, pillaged, and plundered their customers shamelessly. Now that they have an actual threat to their monopoly, they actually have to answer phones, adjust bills, lower prices, increase performance, and generally suck a whole lot less. If the satellite companies would be able to deliver true high speed Internet to the home, we might really see a real-live price slashing blood bath.
Wouldn’t that be interesting? (scratches head)
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