Hughesnet - worse than dial-up!

Page Last Revised: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 06:01 AM -


Summary:
 
1) HughesNet does not provide anywhere near their advertised download speeds.
 
2) HughesNet's "network operations center" inexplicably throttles Internet browsing to less than dial-up speeds, especially with HTTPS sites, and makes many sites inaccessible without explanation or warning.
 
3) HughesNet outsources their “customer service” to India, where an army of illiterates simply waste customer time, and fail to resolve any reported problems.
 
4) HughesNet has obviously oversubscribed their equipment capacity, and is unable to provide the advertised bandwidth to their customers.
 
5) HughesNet does not honor the various discounts and credits they advertise.
 
6) HughesNet fraudulently bills unauthorized charges to customer's credit cards, charging for services they offered for free, or for services they never provided.
 
7) HughesNet does not honor their equipment guarantees, e.g. charging $125 for a technician to verify that a hardware problem exists, and then charging full price for the replacement of equipment that is still under purported warranty.
 
8) If you try to cancel your account (after the required two-year period),  HughesNet will ignore your request, try to talk you out of it, continue billing you, apply unauthorized charges to your credit card, harrass you endlessly, and turn your account over to a collection agency if you manage to reverse those charges.
 
9) HughesNet charges exorbitant amounts for equipment that can only be purchased through HughesNet. They charge $600 for a satellite and modem that should cost (at most) $30, and which is built to last about 6 months. Even though you are required to purchase it, effective ownership remains with HughesNet, since no one else can use it without paying HughesNet an installation fee exceeding the purchase price.
 
10) HughesNet charges a fortune for a simple installation, and another fortune for a "non-standard installation" (which you won't know you have until after the fact).
 

Our unhappy experience with HughesNet
 
We signed up for HughesNet satellite Internet service in November of 2006. Although the service was an improvement over “dial-up”, HughesNet never provided anything approaching the advertised speeds, and their “customer service” was outsourced to India, where an army of illiterates simply wasted customer time, and failed to resolve any reported problems.
 
The service continued to deteriorate as HughesNet obviously oversubscribed their equipment capacity, until it became virtually unusable in January of 2009. A complaint to HughesNet’s Corporate Offices resulted in HughesNet agreeing to a “free” equipment upgrade that (they said) would provide improved service.
 
HughesNet then proceeded to fraudulently charge my credit card an unauthorized $199.99 for the “free” equipment upgrade. I advised my credit card company that this was an unauthorized charge, and the transaction was eventually reversed.
 
Following the equipment upgrade, initially there was a measurable improvement in “download” speed, but absolutely no improvement in browsing speeds (which are apparently throttled by HughesNet’s “network operations center”).
 
The service continued to deteriorate until it became totally unusable in June 2010. HughesNet’s “customer service” erroneously blamed my equipment (rather than the HughesNet “network operations center”, where the problem obviously lies), and said I would have to pay $125 for a “technician” to come out and diagnose the problem. He also said the equipment was “out of warranty” (even though HughesNet purportedly provides a two-year equipment warranty) and that I might have to pay an additional $600 for new equipment! The diagnosis was an obvious lie, as the equipment’s built-in diagnostics indicated it was functioning properly, and the systems were not those of local hardware issues.
 
An attempt to contact HughesNet corporate offices again, to give them an attempt to resolve this latest problem, was unsuccessful. My repeated faxes were ignored.
 
Therefore, we cancelled our (unusable) service, notifying HughesNet’s corporate and billing offices by Fax, on July 1, 2010. We also requested a refund of the fees we had already paid for the past month’s unusable “service”, and advised HughesNet that no further charges against my credit card by Hughesnet would be accepted.
 
Despite this, HughesNet proceeded to fraudulently bill my credit card for another month’s service. I advised my credit card company that this was an unauthorized charge, and the transaction was eventually reversed.
 
HughesNet then proceeded to harass me with automated telephone calls, telephone calls by illiterates in Calcutta, emails, and letters informing me that by canceling my account I would no longer receive Internet service (!), and dunning me for various sums, including demands for payment of zero balances!
 
As a result, I wrote a letter to HughesNet’s corporate offices, informing them that their billing department was apparently as flawed as their “network operations center” and “customer service”, and requesting that they correct their records, and stop trying to convince me to re-open my account, or dun me for money I don’t owe. I also informed them that further sales or collection attempts would be construed as harassment, and complaint filed with the appropriate authorities. That letter went unanswered.
 
On September 20, 2010, I received a collection notice from a collection agency that HughesNet apparently hired to continue their extortionate incompetence. I told them to take a hike. But why should I have to waste my time and postage replying to such nonsense. Can’t HughesNet let go of a dissatisfied customer?
 
In addition to HughesNet’s complete failure to provide the services they advertise, failure to provide English-speaking and knowledgeable customer and technical service personnel, apparent inability to close an account, bill accurately, or provide promised discounts and credits:
 
When we tried to dispose of the equipment (for which HughesNet charged us $600.00 plus $200 installation), we discovered that, even though HughesNet charges their customers an exorbitant price for the satellite and modem (which can only be purchased through HughesNet), the customer cannot sell the equipment to another party, because HughesNet’s “computer system” does not allow another customer to use the equipment! Thus, despite being represented as a sale of equipment, which allows HughesNet to disclaim any responsibility for maintenance (or to charge an exorbitant fee for a “maintenance agreement”), the effective ownership remains with HughesNet --- which constitutes a further deception and fraudulent practice.
 
Another scam is HughesNet’s installation. Purportedly due to FCC regulations, only an “authorized HughesNet installer” can do the installation. They charge $200 for a “standard installation”, which consists of installing the satellite dish on a rooftop with a tripod and guy wires. Yet they charge an additional $200 (or whatever the traffic will bear) for installing the equipment on a “yard pole”, even though the time and materials to do such an installation are far less than the rooftop installation [the customer needs to provide the pole and do the trenching], and the installer is the sole arbiter of whether a “non-standard” installation is necessary.
 

If you live in a rural area, satellite may be your only option other than dial-up. However, HughesNet is an expensive non-solution. I've heard similar horror stories about Wild Blue, and (although I have no personal experience) can't recommend them either. We have been reasonably happy with Wi-Power, which is available through a number of local electric co-operatives throughout the country. If this is available in your area, it is a far better solution than Hughesnet.
 
If you decide to ignore my advice, and go ahead with HughesNet regardless, perhaps because their advertising is so convincing, don't say I didn't warn you.