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My apartment internet sucks. Halp!
September 12, 2009 7:51 PM   Subscribe

My apartment complex's "incentive" free internet is awful. Is there anything to be done?

Okay, so I've lived in this two hundred unit apartment complex for a little over a year. I like it here alright, but it's sort of pricey. With that in mind, I decided to go and talk to the leasing office about moving out about a month before my lease expired. In reply, they commented about how there were such great new features for the upcoming year, including free cable, free internet, and free trash pick up. The savings on these three services gladdened my spirits, so I extended my lease by a year.

During the last month of my lease, I received a flier indicating all residents would be getting the free services mentioned above. No technical details were disclosed, though the flier had lots of capitals and exclamation points. Gosh, they were excited about the FREE!!!!!! services.

Soon after my new lease kicked in, I awoke to find my cable and internet not working. I went ahead and called the cable company, and they reported that my apartment manager called and terminated my cable and internet service. At the time, I thought this was a rather nice move on his part. I went ahead and switched my laptop's wireless over from my personal router to the newly-functioning community one, and ...

Oh lord, it's slow. So, so, so slow. The exact download speeds vary from time to time, but they never, ever exceed .75 MB/s and frequently dive to less than a third of this. The community router regularly lags out or disconnects, often taking a while to allow me to reconnect. Needless to say, my time on the internet is significantly less enjoyable than it was previously; instead of streaming videos, for instance, I have to wait for the buffer to fill, watch a bit, and then let it fill up again. At times, simple emails take minutes to load. It's hellacious.

Were I to end my question now, I'm sure most would say I should talk to my apartment managers or buy my own internet service. Unfortunately, neither of these options have been exactly productive.

When I went in to talk to the apartment manager about the significant speed difference and that the "free internet" he used to keep me around for another year is frustratingly substandard, his reply was, "Well, with 200+ users, it's bound to be slow! "

I attempted to resume my previous internet service, but apparently since I canceled my contract (that is, my apartment manager called and did so), I'm no longer able to pay the same rate for which I initially signed up and will instead have to pay around double. Further, I'll have to pay a whole new host of installation fees. I've asked the manager whether the complex would be willing to pay for these, and he's unwilling.

So, Metafilter, I come unto you. Is there anything else to be done, or do I just suck it up and pay the fees and higher rate? I feel downright ripped off, especially because money is already tight. If I had known the quality of this "incentive," I surely wouldn't have stayed for another ... elevenish months. :(

Thanks for your thoughts.
posted by mllrstvn to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
Your manager had no right to call and cancel your service. He was not a party to the contract, thus any cancellation he may have made was invalid. (It's legally no different than if I called up my worst enemy's internet provider and tried to cancel it). So if you can't get the apartment manager to provide something better for free, you can at least escalate with your previous provider by pointing out to them that they are actually the ones who breached the contract first, by terminating when you had not notified them to do so.
posted by katemonster at 7:54 PM on September 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that is a clear violation of your privacy to allow anyone else to cancel your account.

If the cable company won't budge on your complaint, report them to your local utilities commission. At the same time, insist that your landlord shoulder the costs of your install and rate increase.

It may help to talk to some of your neighbors to see if they had the same experience with the manager canceling their service. Calling your local tenant's union may help as well.
posted by soelo at 8:27 PM on September 12, 2009


0.75 MegaBytes per second would be 6 megabits per second, it's not that slow. Did you mean 0.75 megabits per second? MB usually means megabytes, while Mb or Mbits is usually used for megabits. (1 byte = 8 bits)

Anyway, free apartment internet can kind of be a crap shoot. I didn't even bother setting it up when I moved to my current apartment, rather I just used Qwest DSL.

Since your contract is void at this point, you might want to shop around and see if you could get a better deal on DSL or possibly FiOS if you live in an area where it's available.
posted by delmoi at 8:31 PM on September 12, 2009


I attempted to resume my previous internet service, but apparently since I canceled my contract (that is, my apartment manager called and did so), I'm no longer able to pay the same rate for which I initially signed up and will instead have to pay around double. Further, I'll have to pay a whole new host of installation fees. I've asked the manager whether the complex would be willing to pay for these, and he's unwilling.

you didn't cancel service, he did. tell him to restart it pronto, or you will--and deduct the costs from your rent. if the internet is not working for you--and a constantly dropped connection is not working--then it's his burden to make things right. that was a majorly dick move by your landlord--enough to break your lease for.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 8:41 PM on September 12, 2009


It might just be some jerky neighbor(s) running bit torrent 24/7 and sucking up all the bandwidth. Traffic shaping could help that.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:44 PM on September 12, 2009


Yeah, you didn't cancel it - someone canceled it without authorization.

Escalate through the ranks at the cable company until you get to someone who can fix it. Just say 'I need to speak with your supervisor' when they tell you that you canceled it and there's nothing they can do and go on to the next level.

Make sure you make it clear that your cable was canceled without your authorization and you at no point requested the cancellation, nor did anyone call you to confirm the cancellation request.
posted by winna at 9:28 PM on September 12, 2009


It might just be some jerky neighbor(s) running bit torrent 24/7 and sucking up all the bandwidth. Traffic shaping could help that.

I have some experience on the administration side of this from an complex's POV, and while traffic shaping might help, there's a few problems with the setup regardless:
-Chances are that your landlord outsources the network management to an external consultant firm. While they may have bought x hours for so much money, my guess is he'd be loathe the idea of using any hours and potentially incurring extra consulting fees when you're talking $100/hour. As long as you have network connection, who cares?
-This is pure conjecture, but they may not necessarily have gone with a wireless setup or router/firewall that's capable of the packet shaping necessary to drastically improve network performance. The price difference between getting a few Netgear boxes and setting them up to just "work" versus rocking out with totally configurable Cisco equipment is significant- both in terms of hardware and man hours. Your landlord may not have been willing to pay that difference.
-Depending on where the wireless router is or how the network's physically set up, no amount of packet shaping may help.
posted by jmd82 at 9:34 PM on September 12, 2009


Another alternative would be to band together with the other tenants to complain. I am sure that you are not the only one experiencing this crappy service. United you stand divided you fall. Also, if cooperative reasonable approaches do not work, you could go nuclear and start a public complaining campaign. A website and signs up around the complex decrying the slow service would put a damper on future rentals. If you could somehow convince them that it is cost effective to spend the additional dollars in that it will help renewals and new leases, then you might make progress.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:45 PM on September 12, 2009


If you go nuclear, you can rant on apartmentratings.com and lots of prospective renters will see it.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:54 PM on September 12, 2009


Yeah, you didn't cancel it - someone canceled it without authorization.

As someone who's had more arguments with phone/cable/internet companies than I like to admit, I endorse this approach.

Call back fresh, completely ignoring your previous calls as if this was your first, and START with the "someone canceled my internet without permission" complaint. Don't back away, don't complicate matters by telling them about the free internet blah, don't even acknowledge or offer that the person who did it is your landlord. Someone canceled it, I don't know why, it wasn't me, and I want it back pronto.

And then escalate as necessary until a manager high enough agrees to just turn it back on.

You'll get a different rep anyway, and if there's a previous note on your file you can just say "yes, I tried calling earlier but the CSR did not understand..."
posted by rokusan at 10:27 PM on September 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'd do it rokusan's way.

The most important thing when dealing with script monkeys is not to confuse them with unnecessary detail.
posted by flabdablet at 10:58 PM on September 12, 2009


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