UPDATE: Before reading this, I wanted to note that the ISP made good on a refund. I was refunded the entire amount of installation and two months of service ($686.09). They actually corrected their error and gave me back my cash. I’m satisfied with their actions.
It was early Saturday morning and I was working on some personal projects when my connection started flaking out. I took to my Verizon tethering via iPad and didn’t think much of it until I tried logging back into my home wifi. Everything seemed in order until I tried to browse the web. I was redirected to a hacker radio website and all Google searches were popping off a 404 error at another malicious website. I tried browsing on several devices and the same thing was happening on each. I immediately disconnected all devices from the internet thinking my router had been compromised.
I quickly unplugged my router from WAN and flashed it with a fresh load of DD-WRT. I knew that would destroy whatever was hijacking the router. After about 40 minutes I plugged back in and to my shock, the same thing happened again. I check my /etc/hosts and nothing was out of the ordinary. So, I pulled out my dusty Windows laptop which hadn’t been used in ages and plugged it directly into the ethernet connection from my ISP. The same thing happened on the laptop. I should have started with that, but now I knew that it was coming from WAN.
I contacted my ISP and their 24 hour support line sent me to a voicemail several times. I sent an email to them (via tethering) and went to bed. I woke up at 7:30am and it was still redirecting to malicious websites. I sent another email and asked for a callback. At about 10:00am, the manager called and left a messaging saying they had an ‘outage’. I contacted several people I knew who use this ISP and they confirmed the same at all of their locations. For over 9-10 hours all customers in my city were being redirected to malicious websites from this ISP.
I sent another email asking them to inform their customers of the following:
- Was handed over to the proper authorities?
- What happened?
- How was it fixed?
I received an email back stating that Internet security is the responsibility of the ‘individual’. This volley went on for a couple more emails. I received another email stating that the “Internet breaks at times”. When I could not even get acknowledgement that this event ever occurred, I finally started typing in caps. I said, “YOU MISSED THE POINT! YOU WERE HACKED!”. I noted that my usage of caps was me yelling. I never used an expletive. I also gave a condescending math equation for finding a common denominator. If customer A has this happening at their location, and customer B has this happening and customer C has this happening, what can we deduce from this? Apparently that hurt the manager’s feelings.
The next email I received made my head explode. “If you continue to yell at me, I will be forced to discontinue your service.”. I quickly replied “You do that and you’ll be hearing from an attorney.” (Insert email silence for a long period of time) I wrote back saying there’s nothing in the contract that I could see that included yelling and disagreeing as grounds for breaking the contract. I also called this behavior ‘fascist’. It was snarky I know, but I was upset.
After no reply, I called the manager and he happily said that his legal team was reviewing my ‘threatening’ (ALL CAPS) email and will give a reply back soon. I had to hang up on the guy so I didn’t say something foolish. In a few short minutes, the CTO of the company emailed me berating me for threatening her manager with legal action and that they would not tolerate disrespect of their employees. Again, I was a bit dumbfounded as I had not disrespected the manager outside of my CAPS and petty mathematical equation.
She included a clause of the contract, which I missed because it was fine print, that stated they can terminate me for any reason at any time at their discretion. She said I would need to find another ISP and to let them know when I found one so they could terminate the contract. She was ‘kind’ enough to allow me to leave without paying penalties. I was also told to leave the equipment on the porch as they didn’t want me conversing with their tech. I was left out in the cold and the arbitrary clause left me without any form of recourse.
They stated it’s because they are a family-owned business that they can do this. It doesn’t sound like any family I want to be a part of. This was the worst customer service experience I’ve ever had in my 32 years of living. My wife asked me, “Aren’t companies supposed to try to keep customers instead of pushing them away?” Yes, that’s what I thought. What ever happened to the customer is always right? Apparently that’s old-fashioned in this post-modern world.
I still don’t understand why they dropped me. It has to be for one of the following reasons:
- They were covering up that they were actually hacked and I was pressing some hot buttons.
- They were nursing their manager’s broken heart
- They don’t like people disagreeing with them or calling their bluff
Since I live in the boonies in Texas, there are very limited options for connection. This ISP (4G) was the best and only reliable option. I had to purchase a $550 apparatus tripod and receiver that was installed on my roof. It’s 10 feet high and the signal was okay for about 95% of the time. We paid two months of service at $65/per month. The $550 is non-refundable. So, averaging out my total costs, I paid this ISP $340/month for two months of Internet usage on a two year contract. I searched all over town to try to find DSL or Cable and these services come within 800 feet of my house, but not to my house. Since I work on the web, this leaves me in a huge bind.
Thankfully, I have a Verizon 4GLTE device that will get me through month-to-month. We are getting rid of Netflix and other bandwidth sucking apps until there is a more stable Internet connection. This might be a blessing in disguise to get us more focused with a new baby coming.
The lessons I’m taking from this are many, but I’ll note a few. NEVER USE CAPS WHEN CONTACTING SUPPORT. Never give condescending arithmetic lessons to a mad person. Read the contract thoroughly before signing. Stop calling people fascist when they are exhibiting fascist behavior. When moving to a house in the country, check Internet connectivity first (The cattle ranch across the street should have been a clue).
Finally, I’m going to do what the Bible teaches and do good to those who are my enemies. After much honest, soul-searching on this, I determined that I have been the victim of an injustice for sure. I’m sending the manager and CTO a small gift card for Starbucks. I’m hoping this act of kindness will spur their conscience to not treat other customers as they treated me.
And that’s the story of my ISP kicking me out of their pond. I purposely left out their company name as they have threatened to sue me for writing about this.