DSL Slamming

Have you been a victim of DSL Slamming?
If you have been contacted and told “you will save money by bundling services”, asked “why wouldn’t you want to save money”, “would you like to upgrade your speed”, and answered yes, you are a victim of DSL Slamming.  Did your answer of “yes” cause you to lose Internet service because you had dedicated IP’s or break your systems costing you time and money?

How many times in the last week have you been contacted by your local Telephone company to upgrade, or bundle services to save money?
Qwest resellers (actually not Qwest but third parties, identifyubf themselves as Qwest employees) employ aggressive sales tactics to take ANY customer that uses a third party for Internet.  These tactics break existing Qwest contracts with our customers and Qwest.  For example we sign up a customer to use our service and Qwest requires a 2 year commitment by the customer.  Within 2 weeks of signing and delivering service Qwest representatives are contacting the customer repeatedly telling them to bundle their service so they can save money.  The customers unknowingly agree in a simple verbal confirmation and find themselves losing Internet service within a few days.  Third party Internet service is key to the consumer as they are communicating between offices, using dedicated IP Addresses to access mail servers and advertise their web sites.  When this happens the consumer has no idea what happened, it takes 4-6 hours talking to technical support to find they have been switched (slammed) by Qwest, and DAYS to return the customer to service.  This damages our reputation, impacts the customer and has created a huge customer loss rate.  All third party ISP’s are affected by this and it has bankrupted many.  The key points here are, Qwest harassing the customers, instantly migrating customers, and breaking existing order contracts.  In recent months we lose a customer less than one month after they sign up for service.  If a customer chooses to switch to us from Qwest, they are told they will be out of service for 3 to 5 DAYS to change providers, in the case of Qwest slamming a customer, there is no switch time.  To work around this, we typically order DSL on another phone line (if they have one), then after they are set up, shut off their existing DSL.  ONLY TO HAVE QWEST BEGIN CALLING THEM TO SWITCH BACK and offering incredibly low prices with no downtime.  We know the ILEC’s and cable companies are the last mile monopolies, but in prior years consumers had a choice.  Now once again indepentengs  are locked out of providing services to customers, while paying out our unprofitable DSL uplink contracts.  The telco’s make money from both sides, the ISP, and the consumer.  The unclear divisions between ILEC, CLEC, and ISP all with the Qwest BRAND name confuse, obfuscate and deny customers competitive choice.  Their slamming tactics are exactly like the Long Distance slamming tactics of the 90’s.  They continue to bankrupt the small companies that make rural broadband possible, and provide customers choice.  Their technical support is abysmal, outsourced off-shore and takes up to an hour on hold to respond to a consumer request.    Think about this the next time you need Internet service.

Why does DSL cost more from an Independent ISP?
We are a DSL reseller and Internet Service Provider.  In order to provide service to end users over DSL we are required to purchase a DS3 and ATM circuit from the telco and sign long term contracts to avoid extreme rate increases.  Currently Qwest and Verizon charge a base rate of $1700/month/each to connect to their facilities and the privilege to connect to customers.  Qwest & Verizon are the only last mile provisioners of DSL in our markets, the consumers only other option is Comcast which does not allow third party Internet access.  This paralyzes rural broadband deployment and consumer choice.

For a customer to purchase DSL, they must order a tariffed DSL line to the telephone company at the rate of $24.95 a month and up, for DSL without Internet, similar to the old days of dial up, when you had a phone line, but had to purchase a dial up connection from an ISP.  Consumers that would just like DSL without phone service are denied that right as the telco’s will say that unbundled DSL (without phone service) is not available, or will take 30 days to order, but magically with a phone line it is available.  Once the customer purchases the DSL line, the independent ISP can then provide Internet access to the client.  This small fee generally starts at $17.95 and up, and covers the ISP’s Internet uplinks, business services, and local technical support staff.  A basic residential customer ends up paying $42.90/mo for DSL service to use a third party ISP ($24.95 to telco, $17.95 to ISP).

When DSL came out Qwest and Verizon were required to provide dry line DSL for access to third party ISP’s.  In addition these companies competitively promoted their own internet services in competition with third party ISP’s.  In the past decade the fees they charged for Internet have started being bundled into the base DSL costs, penalizing the third parties and the consumer.  Today a consumers DSL line costs $24.95/mo with Internet from the telco or without Internet.  In order to choose a different ISP the consumer pays an additional price for that privilege.  In this time of cost saving that is often times seen as an extra unneeded expense.