I signed up for Clear.com/Clearwire WiFi Internet and VOIP phone services in October of 2009. I was told by the retailer that my sign up fee would be waived, that I could rent the modem for $5/month, that I would get the phone service for $20/month, not the $25 that was normally charged and that there was no taxes involved because this was a service. I chose to sign because I felt that I would have more flexibility in my mobility and these services were less per month than with Cox Comm., especially with the discounts and no taxes. I was not happy about a 2 year contract and early termination fee, but I proceeded anyway.
I had several connectivity issues initially and eventually got them taken care of. Toward the end of Nov 2009 I started to notice a decrease in my up and downloads even though my modem showed a decent signal. I replaced cables on my computer and the other devices involved in this internet & phone situation. I purchased new phones and a very expensive wireless router to replace my current one.
I continued to have very slow up and downloads, the Clear modem tended to cycle looking for signals, my phone continued to get more static and very choppy calls. I was on the phone to Clear at least 1/week trying to get the service and speeds that I signed up for. I talked to various levels of technical support with no resolution. Several repair tickets were issued over the past couple of months with a guess that there was a problem with the tower that my service was pointed to.
I was told that several other people had called who were pointed to this tower. I was told that repairs could be up to 2 weeks and to call them back if I had not heard anything from them after 2 weeks. I did not hear anything, called them back for an update and was transferred to the techs that were working on the problem. By this time I would tell the Clear rep to read the computer notes so I did not have to repeat my story another time. Still, no resolution to the tower or connectivity, modem cycling problems, dropped service for hours at a time etc.
I received one call in Jan or Feb from a tech who needed some additional info regarding download/upload speeds and sat at my computer to work with them. I was somewhat hopeful that this would be solved soon. I did not hear from anyone and called Clear several times for status checks, still, no changes. On February 24th my Clear modem finally went crazy cycling for signals for hours at a time. I called again and finally talked Clear in to sending me a new Modem & I would return the current one. I was told that it could take up to a week to get the modem but what could I do?
I hung up and was frustrated and furious over this whole situation. I wondered if I could return my modem to a local Clear store and told that I could. I asked why this option was not made available to me earlier and that question could not be answered. The rep on the phone told me to take the modem to any Clear store and trade it in. She gave me my ID # and instructions on what to do.
I was happy about this and took the modem to the closest store to my home. The young girl at the counter said that they did not swap out modems and the manager of the store told me the same thing. I told them that I was told to come & trade it out and that they needed to help me. I even gave them the phone number and ID to call & check it out, they refused. I was livid at this point. I asked what my options were and they told me to try a CORPORATE store. What, a corporate store, why was I not told this from the start on the phone, at the store etc? So, I found a corporate store and entered.
When I got there, 2 guys were working and no customers were there. I started to explain to the Manager the story, gave him the modem, phone numbers, ID # etc. and he told me that they did not swap out modems. My voice raised and I told him that he could swap it out as it was defective & I was told to do this by Clear. He refused. I kept pushing and he told me that it was his store and he would not swap out the modem. I told him it was a corporate store and not HIS, which he did not like. He ignored me and told me he was not going to argue with me. I pushed him to check the modem for himself, he did and then apologized because the modem was defective.
He said he could still not swap it out though, he needed the cords for it. I asked him to take them out of the replacement box of the new modem and he said he could not. I again challenged him on this. He eventually told me that he had upgraded modems and that the cables where not compatible with the one I had. I said that I would go home and bring in what he needed. I had saved the box, paperwork etc.
I returned to the store and got what I needed after being told several times that this was not policy and they did not have to do this and basically that they were gods who were performing a miracle for me. I informed them that I was a college professor of business and gave them feedback regarding customer service, not assuming that the customer does not know what they are talking about etc., thanked them and left.
I installed the new modem and it works fine, BUT, my download speeds are still .5 or less and upload is between .18 & .32. I again called Clear from my cell phone and talked with Tim who was very nice and actually made an effort to push me through the system after he read the computer notes and we talked. I ended getting an appt. for March 8 where a tech will actually come out to my home and see what is going on, I am not holding my breath though. Tim told me that my former tickets had been closed because of the modem being sent to me. He reopened them and I told him that I swapped the modem out already. He said he would cancel the FedEx for me, but if it came, refuse it.
So, I come home from work on Monday and a package is at my doorstep as no one was home to refuse the it. I will ship it back tomorrow. Tonight, I was checking my bank account and notice a charge of $15.91. I contacted Clear and was told that this was the shipping charge for the modem & they could not help me. This was a surprise. I was not told that I would have to pay to have it shipped. My old modem was defective, not my fault, plus I rent it on a monthly basis. Also, that tax that I was not supposed to pay, I have been paying it every month since my first payment. The discounted phone service, there is none. The store I signed up with told me that they would contact Clear and fix this, but almost 5 months later, still no resolve to this issue.
I will dispute the charge with my bank and continue to tell my students about how not to run or manage a business based on my experiences with Clear thus far. I will contact the BBB, the State Attorney General and the FTC about deceptive business practices and non disclosure of fees. This is more about principle than money. Do what you say and follow through. I am keeping up my end of the contract, but Clear is not. I work a lot from home and need the internet in addition to my HOME PHONE. I have kids, my wife passed away and I need to be able to contact my family when I am not at home.
I can cancel and pay the termination fee and get on with life, but this is not the issue. Clear has grown too fast and is more concerned about $ than customers. This will catch up to them. I have already told 400 students about my poor experience and unreliable service. How does Clear expect to sign up business customers and residential customers when they choose to operate like this? I do consulting and have a lot of influence with the local business community, part of the Chamber of Commerce etc. and highly suggest that they seek other internet and phone services.
Lets see what happens on March 8 2010. I may be back with an update!