Verizon FiOS vs Cox Cable: Battle of the Best ISP
I was moving to a new apartment, and the leasing office told me that I could get either Verizon FiOS or Cox Cable for my internet and TV. I said to myself "Gee, that’s swell," because I was thrilled Comcast wasn’t force fed to me like usual. I had always dreamed about trying out that new Verizon FiOS too. Finally, real true capitalism can work because I actually get a choice. However, there were some surprising results.
What follows is something straight out of the Twilight Zone--I am not making anything up here, the prices are real, the deals are real, the dates are real, and the people involved are real.
Dealing with Cox
First on June 22nd, I called Cox cable to see what price they were offering. I wanted 25 Mbps internet, because who knows what legal software and movies I need to download which costs about $50.00 a month.
I definitely wanted HD channels plus some other cool channels. The agent told me that with my favorite channels like Science (for space documentaries), Military (World wars, Future Weapons), Discovery (Mythbusters), HBO (Entourage), Showtime (Penn & Teller, Dexter), Syfy (X-Files reruns) and USA (Burn Notice) I need the bonus pack, movie pack, and the extended cable service, together with internet and the agent’s special offer came out to $103.00 a month. I told them I would buy my own Linksys cable modem so that I won't have to pay cable modem lease fees like at Comcast--it's always a great idea otherwise you'll be paying $500 by about 4-5 years.
The price seemed reasonable and I had already told him that I would first talk to Verizon FiOS before coming to a decision (this might have affected the price).
Dealing with Verizon FiOS
I called Verizon FiOS on June 23rd, and asked them about their double-play bundle offer of TV + Internet for $90.00. The agent there told me that along with an HD receiver (Cox doesn't charge for this), it would be $99.99 a month. Sounds amazing!
So here's how the conversation went on the phone, and trust me, no one can make up this stuff. In fact, I started writing it down after I started to have this ominous feel that I had entered the Twilight Zone:
Me: "Wonderful, when can the technician get started, tomorrow or the day after?"
Agent: "Yeah well, actually it will be more like, July 10th, but wait I don't have your address in our system, let me open a ticket issue for them to enter you into the system."
Me: "But my address is on the website, I saw it, they just didn't have my specific apartment number on the website."
Agent: "Yeah, your building is there, and there are many apartment units in the system from that building, but we just can't find YOUR, apartment number in the system-- anyway, I'll call you back in 3 days after the address is entered into the system and then we can order your service."
Me: "Did you just say you needed to open a ticket to enter my address?"
Agent: "Yes, we have apartments 164-189 in the system, but apartment 54 is just not in the system. No one has gotten our service in your apartment before, is it new?"
Me: "Yes, it's new, maybe a year old. Thank you for your time."
Agent: "No problem, can I help you with anything else today?"
Me: "Do I have Verizon FiOS yet?"
Agent: "Huh? Not... yet... I hope we ca--"
Me: "Then you can't help me too much can you."
Agent: "Alright thank you for your interest in Verizon FiOS."
Apparently, Verizon FiOS hasn't had enough customers to upgrade their Harvard Mark I IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator 1944 address database machine, it still requires a team of engineers to enter the address.
I purchased Cox Cable, and they called me back
I decided that waiting 20 days for Verizon FiOS to come to my new apartment and install was not worth the long wait.
I called Cox and the sales agent convinced me that Verizon FiOS wouldn't be able to come out as early as June 28th. The agent was right. He also convinced me that since my place is new, it has its own node and so I wouldn't have any trouble with the internet service. Also, I told him I was worried that Cox's internet download speeds would fluctuate depending on Washington D.C.'s rush hour times when everyone comes home from work and straight to their pr0n. He exclaimed that that was all lies, disinformation, and misinformation!
I was convinced--so, we agreed on the price of $103.00 a month and he once again assured me of his 40 year experience in the business of selling internets.
Of course, Cox called me back and changed the price to $107.00 a month, well, because they are cox.
You thought I wouldn't be opportunistic enough to write another phone conversation down did ya?
Me: "So you're telling me that you're raising the price to $107.00 a month??!!"
Agent: "Yes, I apologize. But I called my supervisor and he told me that they couldn't do $103.00 because you wanted to install high speed internet and TV on the same day ...*mumble mumble mumble*"
Me: "Wait what? So you're charging me an extra $48 a year because I want to install TV and internet at the same time?"
Agent: "Yes sir, I know it's not ideal. I apologize for this problem."
Agent: "I will be emailing my supervisor to tell him that this is unacceptable, and I will personally see to it that they get you that $103 deal again. I really apologize, we've been having problems lately with management...*mumble mumble mumble*"
Me: "Ok then."
Agent: "Alright, thanks again for your business, we've set the date and the technician will bring the HD receiver for free."
Me: "Alright see ya."
I should have told him that I'm OK with installing internet and TV on different days. Well hindsight is always 20/20, and in the heat of the moment you sometimes forget to think of smart responses to these salesmen. It's like when a friend of mine bought like everything the car salesman offered and turned his $20,000 Camry into a Hybrid Camry fully featured $42,000 luxury sedan. It just happens and then you wave your fists at the technician that is totally innocent.
Back to Verizon FiOS
Later, I decided, well, considering this latest insult to my intelligence by Cox Communications, coupled with the fact that Verizon did give me a better deal, and the ridiculous amounts of good reviews I was getting from other customers--I decided to give Verizon a call.
The agent convinced me that along with the Extreme HD and 25 Mbps internet download, upload and download (so 300+ channels). This was a much better deal than Cox! I said I would order it, but again the address wasn't in yet.
A few days later, I called the same Cox agent and told him, "I would like to cancel my Cox service and installation date." His response: "Ok sure, done." I was surprised I got no argument or appeasement; that really pissed me off, now I was really convinced about going to Verizon FiOS.
I called Verizon FiOS once again, and went through all those automated voice things to finally reach a seller after 40 minutes of dreadful waiting. Verizon has the worst customer service, and that's a fact. I told the agent that the previous agent promised to call me when my address was entered into the system; she said that she just entered my address into the system.
Here's how that went down, I wrote only this portion down:
Agent: "Alright I typed in your address into the system" (wtf?)
Me: "That easy huh?"
Agent: "Yes, and so you want to order double play Extreme HD and 25 Mbps upload and download---but our records show that your building doesn't have TV service yet."
Me: "Huh what? No TV? The leasing office gave me an ad with both TV and internet bundle."
Agent: "Yeah, I'm sorry it won't be available for a while."
Me: "How long will it take, a month, August?"
Agent: "I can't make any promises; it could be in August or later."
Me: "Will I get my bundle deal?"
Agent: "Yes, as soon as it's available your bundle deal will be set, you only pay for what we can give you."
Me: "Alright so when can you send the technician to set up the internet?"
Agent: "Alright, so I see here the earliest date... is... July 19th."
Me: "What? That's over 1 month away!!! Are you kidding me?"
Agent: "Yes that's the earliest we can do."
Me: "Your previous agent told me that they can do July 10th!! How is it July 19th now?"
Agent: "Yes, I'm sorry but July is very busy for us."
Me: "*chuckle* well screw that, I'm going back to Cox cable, this is ridiculously unacceptable."
Agent: "I'm sorry for the inconvenience, that's the best we can--" Here I just hung up on them.
I may have been harsh, but I don't appreciate being lied to when they told me July 10th just a few days ago.
I also called my leasing office and they told me they had Verizon FiOS TV available and that many residents already had it set up even telling me how so many Verizon technicians kept coming over.
Indeed, I was lied to by Verizon FiOS, not once, but TWICE!
Back to Good Old Cox
I shamefully called the Cox agent again, and told them I needed their services again. Luckily, he was able to get me the same date again. I guess I have to take the bullet for having internet and TV service quicker.
Many days later, the technician came to the apartment and easily set up the Cox system, plus the cable modem, plus the HD receiver effortlessly in 10 minutes. It was awesome. I got all the channels and he tested it and gave me extra wires.
Shockingly, he said he didn't need my Linksys Cable Modem because he brought a FREE Motorola Surfboard modem for me. I was impressed. I had mistakenly thought there were lease fees with modems. Now I had to return this modem.
Moral of the Story
Moral of the story is, sales agents are tricky, and you can't trust the advertisements. Other morals include, don't jump to conclusions, call both companies several times, don't settle for price jumps or late installment dates because they can sure hire a couple more technicians to get the job done.
The most accurate and interesting conclusion to draw from this is, Verizon FiOS sucks. Who cares if they have couple more channels, a bit faster internet, they are like Mac is to computers--it's the hip thing to do, but they aren't the best.
Cable Company Advice
If you're deciding between one or two cable services, don't automatically go for the cheapest deal. Consider support, technical service, quality of service, equipment, availability and installation as well. Barter with them, tell them you are unhappy with the price you have. A friend told me that even a simple call to your provider can get you a better deal, and you shouldn't be afraid to leave your internet service provider on the spot. If a company provides the best service with best quality possible at the best price, they are going to succeed no matter what.
Here's my latest speed:
UPDATE 8/19/2010 - Switching to Verizon FiOS
Turns out I had to switch to Verizon FiOS anyway, because Cox cable decided to live up to its name and basically broke my cable modem remotely somehow. I had the modem for at most a month, and suddenly it stops working and keeps resetting itself (Maybe Motorola is to blame for making those surfboard modems).
They had no way to fix it on the phone, and so they are making me wait 4 days for a technician. I asked if they will reduce the price for this month for the 4 days, and they said "yes, but you have to call billing" (well that was the last straw, why do I have to call billing? They should call billing.)
Update 9/14/2010 - Staying on Cox Cable
I canceled switching to Verizon FiOS. I know I'm very indecisive. The reason was, I didn't want to wait 4-5 hours to install the service and Verizon makes long term contracts. To top it off, Verizon FiOS after the promotional period of $99.00, the price goes up to $110.00 and then you get taxes after that. So it would be $115.00 vs my Cox cable bill $107.
I also didn't understand why Verizon FiOS can't guarantee me higher speeds than Cox cable (considering they are supposedly all about fiber optics they should be able to give more Mbps for the same price).
The second I canceled my Verizon FiOS order, good old Cox sent me the new bill and charged me an extra $59.99 for having a technician come to my house to fix their service. Why do I have to pay for your crappy service's malfunctions? I argued with them on the phone, and they canceled the charge.
Comcast cable only charges technician fee if it was your fault, not if their internet broke down. So I don't understand why Cox was acting like this. They also told me they will waive this fee this time, but next time I call a technician I have to pay them. Wow, I almost called Verizon FiOS back to switch again, which I will definitely switch fairly soon.
When I do switch to Verizon FiOS (and mark my words Cox, if my internet goes down one more time), I will post Verizon FiOS speeds, so keep checking back here.
Update 10/30/2010 - Screw it, I've had it, I'm switching to Verizon FiOS
Seriously, I know this is getting old, but I am sick of Cox, they treat me like crap. They made one mistake where they charged me double $59.99 => $120 for the technician I mentioned earlier, then I had to call back and get that corrected, which they removed the $120. Apparently, the incompetent billing people hired by Cox decided to charge me twice. Unacceptable.
Finally, the final straw: Internet went out again, this time a major outage in the area for 7 days. The internet slowed to a screeching halt with minor connections here and there, and modems that kept resetting and refusing to sync. I called for technician 3 times, and each time they canceled saying "Oh but this is an area outage, we can't do anything at your home." They finally fixed it, but it's too late. It interrupted my business; it's totally unacceptable.
If you can't build an infrastructure that can't be fixed within 24-48 hours, then you are not fit to handle such an infrastructure. I don't care what the excuses are, you don't hear of such problems from Verizon FiOS customers, and therefore, I am switching to them.