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mixedfeeling

@torland.me
reply to DaneJasper

Re: Modem rental?

Whether or not a policy applies to a customer is not necessarily the only way that customers might be upset. For example, while I personally would not be affected by the new policy, I oppose it on principle. I would be selfish, not only to everyone's detriment, but ultimately to my own, if I simply took the attitude of not caring about something that didn't affect me at the moment.

At the same time, even if there is a decrease in sign-ups, it may be premature to conclude that the decrease is (or isn't) a result of the new policy. Perhaps not enough people are aware of the policy yet; when I mentioned that a lot of customers were upset, I was simply referring to the numerous replies to the news thread here on DSL Reports (posted by Karl Bode), which is the only place I see it clearly and explicitly posted at the moment. Besides, customer retention isn't the only way to gauge satisfaction. I am displeased by your policy, and I know it will affect any future people I might refer to Sonic.net, but at least at the moment, it is outweighed by other factors. For example, your recent recognition by the EFF has not escaped my attention. I am here not because I don't care about your policy, but in spite of it.

I appreciate the fact that you personally responded to some of the points that I made. It's not with every ISP that you find the CEO personally replying to users' concerns. I think you are correct that there are benefits to ISP owned equipment, but I don't think they can outweigh the virtues of free choice. I believe it is important for customers to choose what they purchase, even if it sometimes ends up costing them more, both financially and in other ways. The cost of paying for a truck or the difficulty in diagnosing a modem both fall are just two more examples that you yourself gave.

Let's look at it another way. If I bought a computer, but chose not to purchase an extended warranty, then I will be responsible for any parts that need to be replaced after my manufacturer's warranty runs out. More important than the money I lost, however, is the fact that I freely and willingly made the decision not to purchase the warranty. Sometimes I will be lucky; other times not as much, but it was my calculation and decision to make. Forcing a service on users that do not desire it, especially on those who are willing to accept all the costs of owning their own modem, detracts from their ability to choose the type of service they want. Sonic.net strikes me as the type of ISP that gives users far more freedom of choice; it is in part this freedom that I pay for when I choose to use Sonic.net instead of a cheaper ISP.

There certainly could be problems with having a list of compatible or recommended products, but many of those problems could be solved if you allowed users to purchase their modem instead of renting it from Sonic.net. If indeed you are able to run such detailed diagnostics on the modem, shouldn't that alleviate many of the problems you described such as "agonizing over whether their old modem is the problem, or if it's the copper loop, and should we roll a truck to test at the MPOE"? If such detailed diagnostics are in fact possible, then you should be able to ship the user a new modem just as easily if you determine that the modem is at fault, provided that it's still under warranty of course.

Perhaps some customers will benefit from having a modem/router/firewall, but other customers already own their own routers or have their own configurations that they don't wish to change. And again, these customers can always go to the companies they bought the devices from if they experience trouble. If these users are willing to accept less support from Sonic.net as the price of their freedom, then I believe they should be given their choice. Personally, I would insist on using my own equipment, even if it means that I have to do a bit more work.

Certainly the cost of the new policy is higher, but I think it would be an oversight to believe that the only type of cost to users is in the monthly price. If any users disagree and believe that renting a modem will benefit them, financially or otherwise, then they are free to do so, but it shouldn't mean that every new customer should have to follow them.