Review by dmk08809
Good "Good local line techs in NJ, TalkToUs folks here are responsive and genuinely try help"
- Location: Clinton,Hunterdon,NJ
- Cost: $43 per month (12 month contract)
- Install: about 12 days
Bad "Slow speeds, sneaky hidden fees added 2x over past year, caps"
Overall "Cannot recommend any longer. Has gone downhill since becoming CenturyLink. Why do they make themselves so difficult to like?"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
I miss the days of long ago with Sprint Local & Embarq before their transformations and eventual merger into CenturyLink. I was one of the original DSL subscribers here in Clinton NJ when it was first introduced in 2001 and can draw upon years of experience where both the technical and customer service aspects of their offerings were remarkably good. (previous review at »/comment/21376 )
Due to "the need for speed" I left CL for Comcast's 50/10 offering in 2012. After a really bad first few months with Comcast back in the Fall of 2012 and after cancelling CL's DSL, I came running back to CenturyLink craving a good, reliable solid internet connection.
The service I ordered was 10M/896k "Pure DSL" however due to the ancient copper cable plant servicing my area (some spans are lead-sheathed and pulp-insulated) the best speeds I could reliably hold were 5M/832k. It was a far cry from the 50M/10M service I had from Comcast at the time but at least it worked. Not much could be done to condition my line for 10M so it ended up at 5M but mostly stable. I say "mostly" since it dropped / resynced sometimes multiple times per week.
Setting up service installation was not timely or well-communicated. After several missed appointment windows service was eventually up and running thanks to a very diligent and conscientious install tech who replaced my drop from the pole due to squirrel damage. I gotta say, those "old timer" techs still around were/are fantastic -- especially compared to their contemporaries at Comcast!
My biggest gripe with CL isn't just the relatively slow speeds available and lack of any new meaningful feature offerings in 6+ years. Its the added fees this past spring ($1) below-the-line and another $2 recently announced. On top of that, you're bound to a 12 month contract and costs increase to $60 + taxes + fees per month for naked DSL after the 1st year. And no, these arbitrary after-the-fact fees are not an excuse to get out of contract w/o ETFs. Not at all a competitive or good value, and even worse for customer perception!
I had a fair share of billing disputes with these guys too. First month was prorated at the full undiscounted cost which they fussed about crediting ~$10 for. The second time was more recently when they dinged a late fee HOWEVER my account was on auto-pay! I called and had to be rather assertive eventually getting the $6 fee credited but it was a tense exchange. Never got an explanation as to why the auto-pay that month didn't function either... Listen, errors/mistakes happen. All I asked was CL "do the right thing" to own up to their error but each time I had to push my case much more vigorously than I should have had to. Left a very bad taste about what CL has become: They don't seem to care one bit about customer goodwill or providing enhanced or improved services - it is all about short-term revenue now. Nothing more, nothing less.
Long story short, I ended keeping CL's DSL for the 12 month contract period and dropped this just this past week since it was headed another $22 per months higher starting with my next bill. The CSR I spoke with seemed indifferent and uncaring at best, didn't even try to persuade me otherwise. At least I have an option now since my Comcast service has been remarkably stable since March but that's another story..
I will say the TalkToUs folks here on DSLR for CL are great, especially Joey. I wish more folks at CL were like him!
Bottom line is I cannot recommend CL any longer here in Hunterdon County NJ. They truly used to be head-and-shoulders above their competition but that's sadly no longer the case. And its not because the competition has improved, but rather CenturyLink has apparently become very complacent about service/features and almost shows contempt toward their customers. It wasn't always like that; around here at least they at one point had a nice, small-town, smaller-company feel to them and actually outwardly appeared eager to provide a good customer experience. Sadly like many other companies, the new CL is nothing like its former components and it really, r-e-a-l-l-y shows and certainly not in a positive way. I'd almost have to say they've reached parity with Comcast - both fighting for the bottom rung of the ladder! Ugh. *sigh*
member for 13.2 years, 2450 visits, last login: a few hours ago
updated 1 year ago
Re: Sprint? Yes, SPRINT. As in Sprint Local, which was formerly United Telephone of NJ (d/b/a New Jersey Telephone Company) before that. Note this was NOT NJ Bell out in the northwestern part of the state. I still have my original DSL modem with Sprint markings from 2001 as a matter of fact in a closet somewhere. Sprint [Local] was a combination I believe of UnitedTel and Centel which not only did they have a LD business but a fairly sizable local operation too that served mostly rural areas. Wireless was cited as one of the main reasons they bailed on wireline and split off into Embarq sometime in 2006.
From Wikipedia: "In 2003 Sprint began recombining their local telecom, long-distance, wireline, and wireless business units into a new company, marketing the combined company as "One Sprint"." ... "The local operations were spun off in 2006 to become Embarq." ... "On October 27, 2008, Embarq announced that it would be acquired by Monroe, Louisiana-based CenturyTel, Inc" ... And finally that was merged with Qwest to become CenturyLink.
Anyway, my DSL here was limited by both distance (~9100 wire feet or so from the CO) and line quality. Even with all bridge taps removed and some plant conditioning the best I could get was 5M/832k. One of the techs here told me some time ago it had to do with thin wire gauges spliced in the span and ancient pulp-insulated lead-sheathed cable plant. I gathered the copper plant in some of my run dates back to the 1940s or perhaps even earlier. I'd bet that was fully depreciated long before I was even born! :P
I'm fortunate to have options at least though you'll never hear me sing praise about Comcast. Neither is very customer-centric. And its disappointing that CL has chosen to basically ignore any upgrades, service improvements, or investment into this area of NJ. For the same price we'd be paying CL for 5M/832k, I'm getting 50M/10M w/ Comcast with about the same level of customer service indifference and residential-grade reliability.
I wasn't kidding when I said I miss the old days where United/Sprint/Embarq had a small truly local feel to them, sponsored local events and even offered annual CO tours as part of a public relations gesture back in the mid/late 80s!
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Re: Sprint? Sprint, I think, doesn't have much choice these days. The foreign company they tied up with has tunnel vision: my way or the highway: no exceptions. Sprint "retention" was a group of really great problem solvers. Trying to be the good guy and provide a fair service for a fair price turned into one gigantic financial loss for Spring. On the other hand the others never played by the rules, and still don't. They made promises to weak-knee-yellow-belly-legislators, sold off huge debt and old equipment to the unsuspecting, while they spun a sugar web of lies, and then did exactly what they planned to do. I watched the careful deconstruction of the American telephone system in four states. The local land line carriers all did the same thing: They provided the least amount of bandwidth (at the highest price they could squeeze out of customers) without offering customer service. It can only get worse before it breaks.
Where I live rural is 50 miles from the nearest large town. Where you live rural begins about a mile outside of the Trenton plant. I'm within with the mile; I get a solid 10/1. You're outside of the mile. Speed drops every X number of feet. You get the 5/1. As far as I know, the best speed DSL over copper can attain is 10/1. It won't change until CL changes to FTTH or LTE. Where I live there is 4000 customers in 600 square miles of corn, beans and cows. What do you think my odds are of me getting anything like FTTH very soon? Probably about the time everyone in NJ has their own T3 at home. We don't have Comcast or AT&T -- I heard it was $140 for 6/1 in a county seat seven miles from me. .
WE have a second phone company using the same equipment to offer speeds up to 15/5 for $150 plus the cost of expanded cable package, plus modem, plus a below the line $2 retransmission fee. I think my $73 for a landline and 10/1with CL is pretty good deal where I live.
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