My ISP wants me to upgrade my service ASAP. I don't wanna.
February 13, 2015 11:44 AM   Subscribe

My ISP is now telling me if I don't call them about getting an upgrade ASAP, they will "temporarily interrupt my service." I don't want one but think they are going to force me into it.

(going anonymous for financial details and I don't want to publicize the company)

So my big shot ISP constantly sends me "upgrade now for new awesome service and cable channels!"-type ads all the time. I ignore them because I don't plan on getting cable and I don't want to make my already-high bill even higher. However, they are now (a) sending me new ads and mail at least every single week, and (b) they are now sending me notification weekly saying they will "temporarily* interrupt my service" if I do not call them within the next few days to supposedly tell them whether or not I want to upgrade. I have the whopping feeling reading all of this mail that they are going to FORCE me to upgrade to the digital network. Which I can't really afford to do.

* I strongly suspect "temporarily" means indefinitely, or until I cave in and agree to upgrade. I seriously feel like they're blackmailing me into this somehow. It's really creeping me out.

Now, my service with them is already fairly crappy--my landline isn't working, I had to spend $200 for a new modem last year, and I still have frequent outages that require me to reboot the modem/have slow times. I strongly suspect this is all some kind of net neutrality/throttling me for more money issue and that I am being throttled/forced to upgrade. They blame it on the fact that there's a lot of other people using wireless in my area (um, duh, isn't that most places?). I am unthrilled with them right now but the other options are even worse, so I'm probably not going to quit them no matter how ticked I am at the moment.

However, I am pretty broke right now and am only getting broker as the years go on because my paycheck isn't making it too well with inflation, and I do not want to upgrade no matter how good the "deal" is because all it's going to mean in the long run is that I pay more money just to get online. (I don't really care about getting cable channels either, I'm so cheap I have rabbit ears.) Sure, I get a cheaper Internet bill for 12 months--but that's only if I don't disconnect within those 12 months and it is at least 50/50 that I am going to need to move this year. No, this will not be decided for sure before their due date, either. I don't want to have to pay the full price for disconnection, I don't want to pay the $49 hidden service fee in the fine print and whatever other "surprise" costs they haven't mentioned that there will inevitably be for a "great deal," and I don't want to have to skip work because they say a technician has to come to the house personally to install it for me. And of course, after the 12 months are up, my bill is only going to go up even more plus they will be charging me a fee for the new equipment monthly. I'm sure the new service is ever so much nicer, but I just can't afford to pay for good service in the future.

However, I strongly have the feeling that saying "no, just leave it alone and don't charge me more money please" is NOT going to be an option. I super despise being Sold To and especially being pushed to spend money and I don't react well to salespeople pushing me. (I'm not even sure I can be polite on the phone, I'm so angry at this shit.) I am not at all comfortable calling them to ask questions, because I feel like they're gonna push and push me to commit, and I am about as authoritative as your dog's squeaky toy and don't get listened to when I do say no. And saying no may not actually BE an option here, as far as I can tell. I am seriously having meltdowns at the idea of having to call them and deal with this.

So uh...technical folks out there, am I going to be forced to upgrade here? Has anyone else already dealt with this problem (I'm assuming if it's your ISP too, you'll recognize this behavior)? What should I do? Will they actually force me to switch over or is no actually an option I can get them to listen to?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
Who is your ISP?
posted by Juffo-Wup at 11:45 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

It depends on your ISP, which is why Juffo is asking for it.

It could be scare-tactic marketing, or there could be something to it. But to answer, it will depend on your specific ISP and those answering who have experience and/or knowledge of/with that specific ISP.
posted by TinWhistle at 11:52 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

So... you haven't called your ISP, you won't tell us who your ISP is, you won't say where you live, and you won't even say how your ISP provides you with internet (cable, wireless, DSL, etc). I don't think this question is answerable.

What should I do?

Call your ISP.
posted by saeculorum at 11:52 AM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]

There is actually a strong possibility that they genuinely need to upgrade the line or other equipment. It's impossible to say for sure without knowing where you are or what specific service you're using or how old your current equipment is. But it sounds like you're on cable, and there has indeed been a wave of digital upgrades over the last decade or so, and if they haven't rolled that out yet in your area they will soon and yes, it will interrupt service for a while.

I also genuinely dislike the cable companies, to the point where I haven't had cable in over a decade, but I have to say you are making a lot of assumptions on almost zero information here. You need to call them to figure out what the real deal is. If they try to sell you something, stick to a script: "I don't want to upgrade," "I can't afford to upgrade," "I only need internet and not cable TV." In particular, not being able to afford an upgrade should shut them up. If they throw you a curveball like "how much can you afford per month?", say "only the current amount and no more" and "the long term rate must remain $X regardless of temporary discounts."
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 12:17 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

What should I do?
Call a competing ISP, because they usually have great deals for people who switch. If you're this dissatisfied, it's highly unlikely your other choices are worse.
posted by sageleaf at 12:23 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

You can contact one of the mods to at least let people know which ISP you use.

Have you looked at the forums on DSLReports? They have ISP specific resources and if this is an attempt to strong arm you someone else made a post about it over there.
posted by redindiaink at 12:26 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

"My service with you is already crappy. I am not spending more than I do right now." is the line I would use on them. If you don't trust yourself to be polite, you can have a friend do it. You can call and say, "Please talk to Joe, he has my permission to discuss this account on my behalf," then hand the phone to Joe.
posted by soelo at 12:26 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is this Comcast? They've been rolling-out their Docsis-3 system upgrade over the past year or so. When it came to my area, I started getting emails warning me about loss of service if I didn't upgrade my old Docsis-2 modem. So, I went to Amazon and picked-up a nice new modem and all is good. Since you apparently have voice service, too, you'll probably have to lease a new modem from your ISP.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:30 PM on February 13, 2015

Seconding Joey above that it very well could be an infrastructure issue. Comcast shut us off (without warning) when we were supposedly causing feedback in the line or something or other. They came out, checked signal strengths and the line coming from the pole and everything and fixed whatever problem they said we had. It cost me nothing and my service did actually improve after that.

So, I would at least ask what the deal is, it may not cost you anything and/or might make your situation better.
posted by cabingirl at 12:32 PM on February 13, 2015

Modern life demands engaging in adversarial communications with people and companies that sell you goods and services.
In the time it took you to write this very detailed post you could have cleared this all up with the only people who can actually help or answer your questions.

Even if they are trying to upsell you so what? Start armed with details of their plans and pricing and those of your options among their competitors and call them and deal with it. Presumably you have dealt with them in the past over setting up the service and dealing with problems. You sound almost scared of them. You're their customer and most markets you have competitors to choose from.

Faster Internet is also really nice to have.
posted by spitbull at 12:51 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, unlike some things, I doubt an ISP is in any way obligated to LET you continue at your current price or using your current technology unless it's under contract terms. Find out.
posted by spitbull at 12:58 PM on February 13, 2015

Seconding Thorzdad here, if it is indeed Comcast. I had to help a friend with this not long ago. They sent a new modem and you pretty much just swapped them out (or that was the theory, at least). Nothing changed about the plan or service really; she just had a really old modem and as such it required an upgrade. (I will note that it was a pretty humungous pain to complete - their self-service activation thing failed, we couldn't get the old one back working, and to fix it they ended up tacking on a service fee for a house visit (which they may have credited back, not sure) but the details about the actual service didn't change at all. It did make me pretty happy I have comparatively slower but far more stable U-Verse for myself.)
posted by mrg at 1:13 PM on February 13, 2015

Our big-shot ISP recently called to offer us an upgrade. I sat down and went over it in some detail with them, including costs. We would clearly save money and the promised speeds were much better. We agreed to the deal; they sent a letter with it all in writing; we have no regrets. I believe their motivation is to keep customers in a proactive move vs other ISPs and in particular Google Fiber's big entry into our area.

Point being: Listen to the offer and decide based on the details. It may be a lot better than you think.
posted by LonnieK at 1:17 PM on February 13, 2015

We ignored a similar message from our ISP (Centurylink) for several months. Then one day we were in the mall & stopped to talk to a sales rep at their booth. 20 minutes later we were saving nearly $20/month and had significantly faster speeds (15 Mbps instead of about 1.5 Mbps). There were no hidden fees. Obviously, they would have been happy to sign up up for a premium TV package as well, but we just said no and it was fine.
posted by belladonna at 1:28 PM on February 13, 2015

There is actually a strong possibility that they genuinely need to upgrade the line or other equipment.

TWC in Santa Monica is doing this. They sent me a new modem and a pre-paid box to send the old one back. I get much better speeds now and there is no change to my plan. Have you searched here? There's at least one recent question about this; it might have info you can use.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:01 AM on February 14, 2015

Comcast kept harassing me, leaving messages, sending mail telling me to UPGRADE NOW. It was annoying as hell. Eventually I called in to an automated number to say 'ok', and they sent a new router, which is still sitting in it's box 4 months later. I haven't heard a peep from them since, and my bill hasn't changed.

My techy brother said it might be that new hub thing (where they turn your router into a public wi-fi hotspot) - hence all the harassing to get me on board.

Just call them, don't agree to an increase in rates, and if they push a 'promotional rate' push on the terms so you don't get stuck with a higher bill in 6 months. Maybe there won't be any change in rates at all.
posted by jenmakes at 10:00 AM on February 14, 2015

Some time ago, I started having terribly slow broadband from Time Warner. Called to fix it, and they said We're upgrading, we sent you a new cablemodem, you lucky girl, just plug it in. They had sent nothing. But I like my current cablemodem, I say. Nonsense, we're throttling it and plan to disable it. Really, look over here at shiny new cablemodem. also, you have no choice. We're Time-Warner. Cableguy delivers new cablemodem. sure enough, it's slower, and has more ability for them to manage my service, as in cut off broadband if I think bad thoughts about roadrunners. You're probably screwed, but make them give you a new cablemodem since you had to buy a new one, and shouldn't have to pay exorbitant new rental charges.

My replacement cablemodem arrived a couple weeks later. smooth operators, those cable folks.
posted by theora55 at 3:22 PM on February 14, 2015

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