One @Home user was so disgruntled that he just posted his own Web page, titled Comcast @Home Sucks, borrowing the logo of the newly public company. In a parody, he chided: "The occasionally high-velocity, sometime multimedia-rich, Internet service with the high price and miserable customer support is here!" He added: "The wait has just begun."
The user, Glen Perye, complained of difficulties sending larger quantities of data upstream--more than 3 kbps, he says--and of a three-month delay in getting it corrected. "I'm paying $40 per month and getting $15 worth of service," he said today. He invited other @Home consumers to post their experiences, good and bad.
While the companies say the incidents are isolated, they are finding that some customers are not satisfied with the highly touted services. Whether @Home and Road Runner meet or exceed customers' expectations in terms of service and support is significant not only because they are new entries in the fast Net access market, but also because their users are predisposed to associate their cable parents with haphazard service, delays, and sometimes even arrogance.
Comcast is one of the lead investors in @Home, and it is providing the cable hookup in Perye's suburban Detroit neighborhood. Microsoft recently invested $1 billion in Comcast, partly to tap the potential for such technologies.
@Home is not alone in fielding such complaints, however. Some users of Road Runner, meanwhile, are kvetching about similar problems. "The cartoon was better and faster," said one user. The chief beefs: The speed is inconsistent and often slower than expected.
Another pointed to newsgroups accessed by Road Runner customers containing such complaints.
Such charges aren't new. A survey in January by Deutsche Morgan Grenfell identified some hiccups. It quoted one Road Runner user as saying: "I kept my ISDN line and my AOL service because they are more reliable."
Still, the preponderance of those surveyed found the services surprisingly popular. Representatives of @Home and Road Runner agreed today. "The satisfaction has been fantastic," an @Home spokesman said. He quoted an in-house survey that showed 89 percent of users "extremely or very satisfied" with the service. Also, 80 percent of those surveyed said they were "very satisfied" with customer support efforts, he added.
As for Perye's case, he said: "We're sorry this happened and we're working to make sure we get it resolved."
Many of the complaints about Road Runner came from the San Diego area. "We've had a few wrinkles, but overall, we've just taken out a few," said Mike Bunney, general manager of Road Runner in San Diego. To be specific, he said the company had signed up 4,000 customers in the area, and only 90 people canceled.