The Real Hughes
This is a topic from the Hughes site.
I think it worthy of re-posting because it describes the REAL Hughes in all its ethical glory.
If this causes a single person to rethink doing business with Hughes, its worth the effort.
Gen 400 for Business does not deliver, and neither does customer service
Good afternoon HughesNet
Thank you for your email asking if I have some issues.
I do have some issues that need addressing. I have been working steadily with your team since 2/27 trying to resolve the issues. I would love to share this with you.
In late January I was making plans to move my office location to temporary quarters in one of the buildings on my property. We had been housed in mid-town Savannah for over 13 years, and our rent had gone up annually. The space, never ideal for our application, was way overpriced for this market. We are always busy, and finding the right location to make a transition from one office space to another just keeps creeping up each year. This year, I decided that we would work from my property in one of the out buildings until we found a perfect permanent space. Unfortunately, my property is a "touch of country in the city", located in the middle of a number of quite large horse farms. When I bought this property 2 years ago, I didn't realize that it was not served by Cable or DSL.
I had explored at that time the use of HughesNet for ISP, but the service reviews were pretty stark. I have been functioning here at home using a Verizon air card. However, my company, a Disability Case Management Company, employs an office staff and a few out based case managers. We host our case management system on our server, and our outbased staff log in to access the file information. I didn't think an air card would cut the mustard.
I received an email from HughesNet, advertising your new Business Service Program and the GEN 4 system. My other option was to pay for the installation of a T1 line, which is a bit pricey for a temporary location. I called and spoke with your sales representative, Kevin Jackson.
Now, I will be honest and tell you that I have second guessed myself time and time again, asking if I was clear when I asked Kevin about the stability, speed and functionality of the HughesNet service. I had read a LOT of complaints about the service and was a bit apprehensive. I had thumbs downed the idea 2 years ago. However, what I heard from Kevin made me really feel comfortable. Speeds faster than DSL. Ability to stream movies and multi-player game applications. Old problems of the past resolved. I described specifically what we do, which involves transfer of medical record files, entry into our server hosted case management system, and the use of Log Me In to access our local server. I told him how many would be in the office (4) and how many would be outbased (2), working on the server at any given time. Kevin felt that the biggest package Gen 400 would be a perfect fit. I asked about the "what if's"... and was told that I could opt out any time before the installation with no charge (duh), and that I could cancel any time during the first 30 days without penalty, but the installation charges would not be refunded. That seemed like a good deal, and a reasonable option to try. Hey, at one point Verizon wasn't the greatest, but now, they rock! So why not give you guys a chance. So I did.
I emailed him back, provided my credit card #, and made the commitment. Here I made an unusual (for me) error, in that I did not review the agreement in total first.. but Kevin seemed like such a straight shooter.. and I did want this to work. Also I was super busy with work and making the move arrangements.
The dish was installed on 2/11, and the installer was great. So far, so good. I had the actual transition planned for the week-end of 2/22, and in the meantime, had the phone guys, the wiring guys, and my IT guy out to get stuff ready. On 2/25, with the move complete, my IT guy began networking the computers and setting us online. I had all of the "geek speak" info that the installer left to provide him, and it seemed to be going pretty well. We had speed issues that Monday and Tuesday, but we also had a Dorthy and the Wizard storm blowing, and even my good old dependable Direct TV has digitizing issues from time to time in this kind of weather. Our IT guy checked out the speeds, which were pretty dismal and told me to get in touch with you all on Wednesday. He confirmed that our "network" was not the issue, having plugged directly into your system to assure that nothing we were doing was causing the snail pace.
Michelle called on Wednesday, and did some speed tests. She was told that there were some issues, and we needed to be bumped up to a higher level. She said that she was told someone would be in touch with us in 48 to 72 hours. Michelle was told that they could call back any time of the day or night, even though this is a business account. I thought she was kidding. This is a business service. If I call anywhere else and if I need to be bumped up, they do it while I am on the phone. But we waited the rest of Wednesday and all day Thursday with no call. Mid morning on Friday, March 1, I called from the field to request that the service call be facilitated. I had the pleasure of speaking with Hugh, from HughesNet. Hugh was less than accommodating that day. He indicated that the 48 to 72 hour window was for real, and that week-ends were not included in that total. He told me that he looked at my data, and that my internet was running fine. This conversation first exposed me to the 60% principle, which is that if we are getting 60% of the advertised levels (9 mbps) then we are within the guidelines for HughesNet policy. I tried to explain to him that our service was so slow that I could not load the HughesNet site. He insisted there was nothing wrong. Needless to say, this conversation did not end well. I did not make it back to the office on Friday in time to call Hugh back while in front of the computer.
On Monday, 3/4/2013, I was returning from an appointment in the afternoon, having been working in the field all day. I received a call from Hugh. He indicated that he had checked our service and that there were severe problems. (Irony.. I let this pass) He indicated that he was requesting that a field technician visit to check the equipment. You ask for cudos on your page.. well here is one.. Hugh did follow through and a service technician visited us on 3/5/2013. He also found severe problems, recommended replacing the equipment, and then did so. On the afternoon of 3/5/2013, the technician called me to say that he had bumped this up a level. Even with equipment replacement, the speeds were dismal. He requested engineer involvement but had no response as to what would happen next.
I called tech support when I arrived back at the office and got Hugh again. He said that the situation had been escalated to the engineers, but had no idea when they would be in touch with me.
Now, by this time, we have been essentially down for a week and a half. I have only a brief period of time remaining on my evaluation window. I talked with Hugh more about our service needs. I explained that the Log Me In was so slow that is was not usable. Hugh immediately hit on this. Log Me In??? That is a VPN. When I asked what that was, Hugh was quite condescending regarding my lack of knowledge about this apparently widely known acronym. It was in this conversation, I believe, that I explained to Hugh that, should he fall from a tower and experience a SCI, and require ICs q4 to6, with D/S, and experience the discomfort of D-Cubes, that I would happily translate the Doctor Speak for him. I explained that, while not completely computer illiterate, I do not Speak Geek, and requested that he treat me with the same dignity that I afford my clients. I learned that the 60% solution did NOT mean that I could expect speeds between 9 and 15 mbps, but that if we were at an AVERAGE of 9 mbps, or even kind of close, say 7.5 to 8ish, we were within the HughesNet thumbs up all is well window.
Per Hugh, the latency, not the download/upload speed is the issue with VPNs, which I now know is Virtual Private Networks. The latency refers to the time it takes to load a webpage. Because your towers are 25K miles away, the latency is always going to be a bit lagging. I obtained some recommendations from the Log Me In tech support, which included disabling the TurboPage program, and Hugh and I tried this. It was worse. We tried a few other techniques, without success. I explained to Hugh that the use of this program, which I had specifically discussed with Kevin, is essential to our operations. I told him I would have to explore other options, and be back in touch.
Although Hugh was a condescending jerk, and he provided diametrically opposed information on Friday to Monday, he did follow through on getting a tech there within a reasonable time frame, and was honest when telling me that the system was not going to get any better. CUDOS to Hugh...
I contacted my IT, and we discussed emergency options. My IT, who rocks by the way, networked my AIRCARD from Verizon to my computers, and on 3/6/2013, my computers were humming away at about 20 times the speed we experienced with HughesNet. I contacted HughesNet Customer Service to cancel my account. I was informed that due to the type of account, they could not accept my request, but that I had to fax in a letter on company letterhead and someone would be back in touch in 2 to 3 days. (Lets remember, they installed on 2/11/2013). I faxed in the letter on 3/6/13, and on 3/8/13 called to follow up with the cancellation (I have only 3 days, two are week-end days, until I am past my grace period.)
I began calling on the morning on 3/8/2013, and made 4 consecutive calls to HughesNet, attempting to reach the department that handles these issues. When I pressed the appropriate number to be transferred, I was directed to a message that provided a number to call for this service, and disconnected me. Funny, the number provided was the NUMBER I WAS CALLING. On the fifth call that morning, I pressed the extension for a different department and got a person. I explained my problem and informed them that I had already been directed to this extension that hangs up, and that I wanted to speak with a CSR or my next call would be from the BBB office. I spoke with 3 service reps (35202871 and 35202896) before I spoke with Joseph (35202987) and was transferred to someone who could help me, Grace.
Grace first gave me the song and dance about sending in the letter. I explained that this had already been done. She then said that she would make a note and be in touch with me at the end of the billing cycle to cancel the account. I asked her to show me the place in my contract that says I cannot cancel until the end of a billing cycle. Being unable to find such a clause, she told me that this was posted on HughesNetLegal.com. I explained that my contract is found within the 8.5 X 11 of the papers that I agreed to, and not some postings on the internet. Grace decided to check with her supervisors, and subsequently agreed to cancel the contract effective 3/6/2013. (35202987) We discussed the return of the equipment. Grace informed me that in 5 to 7 business days I would receive a kit to return the equipment with all information on returning these items provided. I did insist on the address for return, and asked her about how to pack. She told me this information would be sent, but I could also find it at www.customercare.myhughesnet.com. (There is a how to get the beam off the dish, but no address on this site). I requested an email confirming cancellation of the service as of 3/6/2013, and she indicated that an email had been sent.
On 3/9/2013, I had no email confirming account closure. I contacted Manuela (35219292) who sent me to Rose (35219292), who sent me to Joseph, who suggested I call 800 347 3272 and got Donna in Tech Support, who sent me to Andy, who sent me to Mark. Mark confirmed that I would have the email within 24 hours (35226430)
On 3/11, I called to confirm that the account was closed and request confirmation email again. I spoke with JC (35239219) who indicated that he sent the email confirmation. He indicated that the return kit for the equipment had been sent. He stated that I had until 4/22/13 to get the equipment back to HughesNet.
On 3/12/12, I got a notice that my bill was past due. The business credit card that had been provided at the time of the order had been replaced by Bank of America, because one of the vendors that I do business with had been breached. They replaced all of the cards. Wonder who the bad vendor was. I called in speaking with John wo indicated that my bill for the month was $348.78. He had no record of the account cancellation or prorated billing for the account. Much ado about this and contact with your billing department, who is unreachable and does not respond to emails, and I got the prorated amount and paid it immediately via online bill pay at BOA. 35273559
I then waited for the kit to arrive. On 3/19/2013, I spoke with Kayla 353617327. She confirmed that that email had been sent and that the kit is in the mail. She told me that the time for the kit was 7 to 15 days. (hmmmm) She stated that it had been processed and that it should arrive no later than 3/8/2013. Kayla told me that the Account Management Team in the Billing department is in charge of sending the return boxes. I sent a fax in to HughesNet confirming this conversation.
On 3/24/2013, a Sunday night, I received a call at 7:10 p.m. I didnt reach the phone in time, picking up just as the caller hung up. The voicemail message was from Sheena(?) at HughesNet indicating that she was trying to reach me about my account. Now this is a BUSINESS account, and she is calling me on SUNDAY NIGHT at 7:10 pm... Why?? This is the first call I had received from HughesNet since the notification of cancellation, but it sounded in her message as though she had made exhaustive efforts. I returned her call at the number provided at 7:11 p.m. (one MINUTE later). I got David who informed me that Sheena was calling to let me know that the return kit had been mailed out. I was informed that it should arrive by 3/28/2013. Case number was 35204048.
On 3/28/2013, I did not receive the boxes. I contacted HughesNet, speaking with MaryAnn. MaryAnn told me that the boxes were not processed until 3/11/2013, wo I could expect them in the next day or so. I asked for a supervisor, and spoke with Margaret. I was quite candid with her, and told her that this pattern of delay was making me quite uncomfortable, as though you are attempting to forestall my ability to return the equipment and therefore have the right to keep the $200 which would be returned from the $450 lease termination penalty. Margaret indicated that this was of course not the case, and that if the boxes did not arrive in time, HughesNet would provide a credit to my account because of the delay. On that date, I paid the $250, which is my Lease Termination fee for the lease agreement, and sent a letter confirming the conversation. I requested that a tracking number be provided to me, but was informed that, although UPS had my boxes, you guys didnt have the tracking number.
On 4/2/2013, I still did not have a tracking number or any boxes. I called and spoke with Kelly who told me that due to the account type, I would not be receiving any return kit. I was flabbergasted. Those things have been in the mail since 3/11. I asked to speak with her supervisor, Gemma, who confirmed that they will not provide a return kit. She reviewed the account and told me that I had been given an address on 3/8/2013 and that I would be responsible for returning the items at my expense. She provided me an address but no phone number for the facility.
Does this appear to be an upfront way of dealing with customers to you? How can you justify the pattern of delay, both in providing technical service and in addressing customer service issues. Could this be a bunch of incompetent people who dont know what they are doing, or is it a company policy to stick it to the customer.
Until this point, I just wanted to get this stuff out of my office and off of my mind. While I thought I had asked your sale rep all of the relevant questions before moving forward, I allowed that maybe I had not asked all the right questions and it certainly was my fault for not reading the contract completely before agreeing to the terms and being surprised by the Lease termination fee. I was willing to say, my bad, and move on. But this kind of made me mad. I dont mind paying my penalty, but I am not a typical country bumpkin who might not know what recourses are available when the big bad corporation starts messing with the.
I did some research on HughesNet. I found that it is a subsidiary of EchoStar. I enjoyed EchoStars boast that :
HughesNet boasts As of December 31, 2012 and 2011, our Hughes segment had approximately 659,000 and 626,000 customers, respectively, that subscribed to our consumer and small/medium enterprise service, HughesNet and dishNET services, and other reseller arrangements. As of December 31, 2012 and 2011, we had $1.063 billion and $1.036 billion, respectively, of contracted revenue backlog. Our revenue backlog as of December 31, 2011 included $252 million related to EchoStar XVII, which was under construction in 2011. We define Hughes revenue backlog as our expected future revenue under customer contracts that are non-cancelable, excluding agreements with customers in our consumer market.
So I decided to do some more research. I called your sales staff again as a potential new customer. I spoke with Alex. This time, I asked questions about your Gen 400 service and knew what the right answers SHOULD be. Again, I was informed that the GEN 400 is so fast, much faster than DSL. I can stream movies, participate in multiplayer games, download media, etc. I again explained about my use of Log Me In and asked if this service would allow me to use that application. ABSOLUTELY. I asked about the reliability of the speeds, and was informed that they are absolutely reliable. This time, I even went to far as to say that I had looked at HughesNet 2 years ago (I did) , and noted there were a lot of complaints about speeds not being reliable. Alex assured me that the Gen 400 is a whole new product, and that while he was aware of the past issues, they had been resolved. I asked about the Echo XVII satellite coverage, to determine if I am in a covered area, and I am! Then I asked about the agreement. I was told about the ability to cancel without charge before installation, and about the 30 day trial period, during which I could cancel my services. I worked pretty hard here to get him to tell me about that Equipment Lease Termination fee. I confirmed that if I cancelled in 30 days, I would only have to pay for the installation and the time I had service. He confirmed this was right. I asked again saying that there would be no termination fees, and he said that was right.
What this told me is that I did do my due diligence in asking the appropriate questions before proceeding with services. While I should have read the lease agreement, your agents are withholding this information. I did act like your typical bumpkin by not reading the lease first, but your guys arent being forthcoming either. We know that the speeds advertised are not even expected by HughesNet and that the reliability of speed is completely variable (wanna see my speed tests.. and this is YOUR system). We know now that HughesNet cannot handle VPNs, which includes LogMeIn due to the latency. Your sales rep did not inform me of this when asked this direct question.
An ethical company does not seek to take advantage of their customers. I think it is quite relevant to know that HughesNet boast does not indicate 659,000 loyal and satisfied customers, but 659,000 people under customer contracts that are non-cancelable. If we look at the chatter on the various message boards, the BBB complaints, reviews of the service by companies that are not part of your organization, those are probably 659,000 pretty unsatisfied people, or at least many of them are.
It appalls me to know that HughesNet received a $92 Million dollar government contract to provide internet services in areas unserved. I would hope that our US tax dollars go to companies that really mean to provide service, not those that are just building up their revenue backlog. (. As of December 31, 2012 and 2011, we had $1.063 billion and $1.036 billion, respectively, of contracted revenue backlog)
I wonder if the other federal and state contracts that you have obtained are aware of HughesNets attitude toward their customer base. The areas served are rural, and typically you would find a large portion of the population to be less well educated, and have less understanding of the recourses available to them when dealing with this type of situation. Perhaps we can find out.
Agencies dealing with consumer complaint issues relative to ISPs are FCC, FTC, BBB, and the state consumer affairs offices. As consumers, we can certainly lobby our representatives regarding federal and state contracts with HughesNet, and notify the contracting office of problems with service for people who are subsidized by these contracts.
My complaint is simple. I want the box to return my equipment as promised, and I want to not have any further contact with HughesNet. But there is that equipment, sitting on my desk, just continuing to remind me of HughesNet Business practices.