Saturday, April 6, 2013

Insight Communications Basically Sucks



Here in Bowling Green, KY, our local ISP 'provider' (term used loosely--worst CS in any I've dealt with, anywhere), was just bought out by TW, and as a result, we're now officially screwed out of using our 360 ESPN app.

I called TW 'CS', which PUT ME DIRECTLY THROUGH TO Insight as soon as I gave their automated system my tel. # (associated with Insight), and a CS 'rep' there interrupted me rudely 4 times (loudly) in under a minute to tell me this (basically, a direct quote):
"You're still an Insight customer, even though TW owns Insight, so, the way to get that content on the internet is [sales pitch coming] to go to our website, click on ESPN3 [knew it], and go from there. I don't know about the XBox, but as far as phones, and the internet, you're going to have to do it that way".

As Adam Sandler said in 'The Waterboy', "It's time to open a can of whoop-ass!" 

Today's 'discovery' is yet another in a long string of disappointments I've had as an Insight customer, but there are no choices otherwise in the entire region for this type of ISP.

Every time they can, Insight has screwed their customers out of content, raised prices, and contracted their internal customer service to people often doing it right out of their own homes. 

These have been the rudest people in the world, and Insight has even shut down local accounts that have been attacked and temporarily accessed (in my GF's case, with no evidence at all), by online scammers.

Case in point--my girlfriend, who's always paid her bills EARLY, and never done anything wrong (esp. on 'net), when we got home from vacation a few years back to find that Insight had suspended her account without contacting her as to 'why' leaving her with no 'net access except big, rude, home pages like the one below (except the older version had a 1-800 to call).

To me, these looked like hacked pages themselves, and I thought some hackers were targeting Insight to 'bring it down', while we were still paying!

I called the number, and got a CS rep who seemed to be working from a script, to the point speaking to a human being was actually not even necessary (as he wasn't supposed to be listening).

This kid was apparently also 'too young' to have good phone presence OR manners, and kept interrupting us (I informed him I was putting him on speakerphone because I had some questions, but my girlfriend, the account holder, was listening in to try and understand why her account had been closed).

He was very curt, and rude, saying 'you must have done something', then 'we have the info here', and it took a few minutes of prodding on my part to get him to even 'divulge' what the hell he was talking about...when he finally spit it out, it was something we never even knew about--somebody had 'supposedly' (INSIGHT's servers showed it--not our email accounts) used her ACTUAL account (not her wifi--her email account) to send out a lot of online pharmaceutical spam, and we'd never been aware.

Didn't matter, as far as these idiots were concerned--we'd 'used up' one of our 'four strikes' (forever, even--how American is it to not even know how many there are in the sport?) and Insight would 'graciously' re-open her access, but only because they were so very, incredibly, generous.

Make you sick? Did me.

I work on PCs, and don't have time to support any other illegal activities, online or not, so I lectured the little turd for a couple of minutes, telling him that currently even CNN had all sorts of reports going around saying how people were hacking others' accounts, and it certainly had been done here, and 'how can we not even see these supposed emails in any of our 'sent' folders (made him sit and listen while I accessed over four of them right then).

The kid had nothing to say, so he gave me some rude, idiotic platitude about 'well, that's the situation', and I left him with a hint that perhaps Insight should start looking at someone in their very own tech hierarchy abusing their skill/access/'power' to do stuff like this (hacking, using their access to random customer accounts), and even if this wasn't happening, they should quit falsely accusing their very best customers (no exaggeration here--my GF is likely in their 'top 5%' as far as bill-payers, actual 'rule-oriented' account holders, etc.) and start hiring some techs who, a)knew what the hell they were talking about, and b)would find the real culprits and quit accusing/abusing their best clients, especially while all the Insight ads (back in 2009) were depicting their 'then-CEO' Michael Willner going from home-to-home (Insight customers, of course) 'getting foppishly roped' into doing the customer's random housework (from walking the dog to cooking supper), with his severely-dopey, and calculatingly off-putting personality leading him into all sorts of [TOTAL and COMPLETE BULLSHIT] like this:
When Irony is Sweet

Ironically, Willner's very own 'blog' (actually, if he ever left content on this blog, it was basically what you'd see if you Googled something like 'ISP-sponsored hype', I'll bet) currently has only two comments on it--both unreadable, but one, looking exactly like what they were shutting down accounts over (in our case, described above).
What a jerk!
And--and in the case of his [then] company--'idiots'.  Pretty ruthless ones, at that.

See Michael Willner's 'still-open', mile-long, hype-filled drivel-of-a-blog, here.

The REAL issue here is that we are still being monopolized here in Bowling Green.

Our only choice for cable broadband internet was originally owned by Rick Williams--now one of our city commissioners--who may have even used his sellout money to help him afford his local campaign money. Pure speculation much does a local commissioner campaign cost, anyway?  I really don't know, and I'm sure it 'depends' on all sorts of factors, including how 'much you want to win'.

Rick Williams
Former Storer Cable Manager
Williams denied any such thing to me in person when I asked him about it during his 'first' run for that office, in 2010, when he showed up on my girlfriend's front porch hanging his campaign door-signs.

I shook his hand, smiled, said I remembered him as being a previous owner of our local cable company, and then said I had a few questions for him with regards to local internet providers in Bowling Green.

First I asked him if he still had any 'private' holdings from that sale--any stock in the company that currently owned it (Insight), which he readily denied.

Then I asked him if he was aware that some local residents didn't like 'the new owners', and letters to the local newspaper indicated that many felt we were 'forced' to subscribe to them, and people often expressed worries, concerns, and were 'wondering' if we'd ever see any competition for Insight in our area.  If the sweat beads didn't form, he was visibly shaken that somebody was 'holding him up' with such intense questions on a front porch where he wasn't ready for this stuff.

At first, he didn't really have an answer, but basically acted like he 'empathized', since, like I'd said, 'we're all in the same basket in town'.

I really did want an answer to that one, though, especially since he was literally campaigning for a local public office that could effect a rule on this locally, and promote some competition to come in for Insight.  So I did a little filibustering, meandering around how 'American' the free market is, and how good it was for local prices, and would benefit everybody...'heck, even him' (since he'd said he hadn't retained any of his personal stock in the company he'd sold, which he managed for many years, and had, at least partially owned, for quite awhile)...

That was enough for him to start looking nervously around for his 'ride'--who turned out to be his wife, rolling around the corner in the mini-van to 'save him'.

As he busily said his 'goodbye', I asked him if he had any intention of doing anything about it 'if he was elected'.

He made sure to avoid that topic entirely, claiming 'that's not really the kind of thing we can do locally'.

Really.  Then why do we bother voting for any elected officials hired to oversee the local city economy, then?

As he left, I reminded him how close our local situation is like a 'local' version of the situation that led to the infamous 'AT&T Breakup'; when Congress declared them a monopoly, and forced them to lease their (literal) existing phone cables (already installed in every home in the U.S.) to open up trade for competition, freeing that market up substantially.

I'll say this--if that hadn't happened, we'd all be paying AT&T over $100 a month for basic land-line phone service, and we certainly wouldn't have seen many of the biggest innovations in smartphones driven by that market, once genuine competition was introduced there.  It stands as one of the most important decisions made by our Supreme Court since it's beginning, especially those that affected the American economy.  Now, THAT's American.

Not what we see here, with our local ISP 'situation'--this is just open corruption, here--it's advanced to that point, after years of seeing the idea come up on the local newspaper by citizens from every walk of life, not just those who even know much about the economy, or the internet.  We have a monopoly here that may be getting 'covered up' by any local politician(s) with investments in the Insight company (and wouldn't they have invested in Time Warner before the recent buyout, since this would make their stock portfolios quite healthy-looking to other companies they were interested in investing in?).

Back in 2009, after talking with Williams, I reported back to my girlfriend I wouldn't be voting for him, and I recommended she not, either, and told her why.  I felt I didn't want to see him sitting on what is basically our city's 'Board of Directors', knowing he could use that position to become even less accessible in the future.  I felt his answers expressed his general apathy toward his constituents, and that he would miss every opportunity to serve in that way.  Sadly, I just felt this about his character--his dismissive attitude in his every answer had said a lot to me.

Despite my own growing apathy toward my city's economic situation, and my feeling that some corruption exists here, I still think we need to make these issues consistently heard by our officials.

This blog won't do it.  I certainly can't 'do' anything by myself.

I'm just one person, just like everybody else living here.

Media corporations are so big that they see their customers more as 'stats' every day.

Their attitude toward their subscribers can be anything they want, because they're setting their prices based on having no other competition to keep their prices reasonable.

Our local internet prices have climbed astronomically over the past few years because these companies lack any 'real' and 'true' competitors.  Most 'letter-writers' to the local newspaper (and many online comments) indicate what I also feel--that our treatment by these companies also suffers at the hand of this situation.

We need to take these issues to our state elected officials before prices get even further out of hand.