Feel like switching to a different Internet Service Provider (ISP)? It shouldn’t be a surprise: ISPs regularly scored the lowest ratings out of all U.S. industries when it comes to customer service. Other studies have indicated that as many as 71 percent of U.S. households would switch from providers that try to discriminate between types of Internet traffic (a hot-button issue among many Web junkies). When it comes to dealing with a provider, discontent is the rule rather than the exception in customer service ratings.
Perhaps one day the industry will improve. But for now you can make the best of a bad situation by choosing a provider rated higher than average. Depending on where you live, you may have several different options regarding providers offering common connection options: Is it time to make a switch?
General Customer Satisfaction: Making Smart Moves
No matter what ISP you choose or switch to, there are some moves you can make that, on average, will increase your own customer satisfaction rates. A 2013 J.D. Power “U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study” reported that customer satisfaction increases reliably among those who choose to upgrade to the premium speed package offered by their providers.
According to this report, if your provider offers more bandwidth and higher Internet speeds for an extra fee, chances are good the better service will outweigh the higher cost. On average, this is only an extra $5 per month, but it leads to better perceptions of the ISP and more word-of-mouth recommendations overall. So if you are stuck with a provider but unhappy with your service, think about upgrading to a better package first.
Good Providers Based on Customer Service
You can visit or subscribe to a number a sites that offer rating systems for ISPs, including Consumer Reports, if you want detailed information about a particularly provider for more local providers, check out social media reviews and local business customer service ratings for a clearer look at customer service tallies.
Verizon FiOS: Verizon FiOS is a fiber-optic network that tends to get high scores when it comes to speed, reliability, and general satisfaction. These customer service ratings could be influenced by the limited areas where FiOS is offered, but Verizon is busy expanding FiOS offerings, especially in areas like California.
Wow! Cable: Wow! is fairly limited, focused primarily in the Midwest, but it gets relatively high marks for customer service and technical support, a rarity among ISPs that makes it stand out. Internet speeds are not particularly fast compared to options like FiOS, but if service ratings are your main concern, that may not matter.
EarthLink: EarthLink offers DSL and dial-up services, so it specializes in slower Internet service for those who do not consume a lot of online media. However, prices remain low and ratings for EarthLink are high in the DSL sector.
Google Fiber: Google Fiber gets an honorary mention on this list. It is only available in a few cities such as Provo, Austin and Kansas City, but Google is planning expansions into more urban areas across the country. With this expansion come fiber optic lines offering extra-fast Internet services and no data limits, plus Google’s typically reliable installation and service. If Google Fiber is coming to a city near you, keep it in mind for a potential service switch if you are unhappy with your current provider.
A Note About the Losers
Sadly, some of the largest ISPs in the U.S. tend to get some of the worst customer service reviews. Managing vast regions with millions of different customers tends to make it difficult for ISP giants to offer high-quality customer service. For example, the Consumer Reports National Research Center has rated Comcast and Time Warner as the worst ISPs when it comes to customer satisfaction. These two ISPs were also the two largest U.S. providers, and thanks to the Comcast merger agreement are forming one, even larger company.
Your ISP options may be limited, but this type of data suggests that going to a smaller provider (or at least one that isn’t Comcast) may prove better for your blood pressure. Local providers, even if they ultimately channel the services of major providers, have more at stake when it comes to impressing their customers, so customer satisfaction ratings tend to be higher for these businesses.