Okay, this is very long but I feel that it is necessary info for others who may be looking into Wildblue/Exede/Viasat or whatever they call themselves when choosing a satellite internet provider.
In January 2013, we moved to a remote-ish location that has neither cell service nor cable/DSL. We were already a DirecTV customer, so we asked about the “bundle” that is always advertised. We needed a LAN line phone and internet. I am a full time online student and we are a family of four.
Off-topic a bit, but a real-life example of bundling services: It is now July 29, 2013 and we still have not been “bundled”. We are paying $50-$110 for internet that barely works, $170+ for DirecTV and about $75+ for phone. Initially we were quoted $25 for phone, $69 for DirecTV and were told that we would also get a $10 credit for internet. That still has not happened because none of these providers seem to want to talk to each other- every month, we spend hours upon hours calling back and forth, getting disconnected and transferred ad nauseum to the point that we’re always told “just give it one more billing cycle”. It is absolutely ridiculous! The best part is that DTV and Wildblue/Exede/Viasat tell us that it’s Verizon’s responsibility, yet Verizon tells us that they don’t bundle with W/E/V and most CSRs have never heard of them. And then, they transfer us to DTV who tells us, again, that it’s Verizon who has rejected the bundle request and/or has cancelled it. Be very leery when bundling anything and keep detailed notes. I record everything. Back to my complaints about Wildblue/Exede/Viasat…
When we called DirecTV about the advertised bundle in January, I was transferred to the “internet department” by DirecTV. While setting up the service with the CSR, I had questions about whether or not the data plan and speeds would work for our family. We chose the 10Gb plan for around $49.99. We were in temporary housing while looking for our house and had been using the Verizon MiFi for about 6 months. We had 5Gb with Verizon and only once in that 6 months did we actually go over the data allowance. This was with a little less than normal usage that we had with unlimited DSL, AND I was homeschooling at the time, online, as well as taking college classes online. I forgot to mention that I have a 14 yr old who loves YouTube and Pandora. I was told that 10Gb would be more than enough for us and that the speeds were reported to be better than the MiFi (I never, ever had slow speeds with Verizon unless I was out of cell tower range). She even mentioned something about how great the speed was for gaming, like with the Xbox, which we do not use. When I asked a few more questions about billing and the bundle, the woman gave me a number for “ViaSat”. I asked if that was the internet provider’s name and was told “yes”. I had never heard of them, but wasn’t concerned. BIG MISTAKE.
Imagine my surprise when the installer came to my house and unloaded boxes labeled “Wildblue”. I asked him if there was a mistake and he said “no, Wildblue is the provider, well, sort of, you’ve signed up for Exede and they’re actually Viasat.” I called the number for “ViaSat” to confirm what he was telling me and got “Wildblue”, I ended up NOT being able to get help because I did not have an account yet. I was completely confused and not happy about the Wildblue part, I had friends in the past who complained about it but was assured that the new Exede was Wildblue’s “new” service/company and that the name Wildblue would be going away soon because so much had “changed”. He even went on to tell me about some amazing satellite that was launched late 2012, so I assumed that this was better than what my friends had. Sadly, it is worse.
The installer was here for about 6 hours. The house was already wired, but he was super slow. He also only had a small ladder and my husband and I had to get up on the roof with him and provide our own ladder because it’s a tiered roof, he climbed up onto the one story portion but couldn’t reach the second story with his ladder. He also kept forgetting tools and/or nuts and I would have to climb down and retrieve them from the bed of his truck as he’s trying to yell down to me where he “thinks” it was. He told us all about his health problems, his physical disabilities, etc… As we’re all up on the roof, I hear a dog barking like crazy from his truck. He then began to brag about his German Sheppard’s training and when my kids came out he told us to make sure they don’t go near his truck because his dog “doesn’t like kids” and is “ trained to be an attack dog”. His windows were open. I have two Miniature Schnauzers and a 4 year old. I’ve also worked around military K9s in training and know exactly what a well-trained GS can do. Are you serious right now?
He finally finished and told me to create an email account firstname.lastname@example.org. I was still confused because when I called initially, I set up my internet with Viasat and he told me I “actually” had Exede and even Wildblue told me that we didn’t “really” have WB, but rather, Exede. So, according to everyone involved that I had spoken to up to that point, Wildblue was not really called Wildblue anymore, yet I now have a Wildblue email address and have to log in to Wildblue.net to access anything about the account? (That is also a joke because you have to click through a bunch of pages and log in like 2-3 separate times just to see your account! Not cool when you don’t have unlimited data.)
As he was finishing up, he had paperwork that he was writing on and I was waiting to sign a contract, but he told me that it’s on the website. I assumed that it meant I would have to log in and confirm X,Y or Z while he was there, it would have been nice to know that before we had him set everything up. I had been told on the phone that the contract would be for 2 years, but that’s it. The chick at DirecTV’s “internet department” was talking so fast, it was hard to follow, but I was told that the installer would have all the paperwork. Naturally, I expected that I would have to sign something.
Interestingly enough, the account is in my husband’s name, but I am the one who actually spoke to the person when setting it up. So, technically, my husband did not have anything to do with a contract at all. For all they know, I’m just some stalker or bitter ex, or mail thief with a DTV account number who has used his name to get service at my house. How crazy is that? Oh, they also won’t send me a paper copy of a bill. They don’t “do” that. The online “statement” is worthless anyway.
Within the first 6 days, January 13, 2013, my internet stopped working. I still had not actually seen a contract and had searched through my “account” online. There’s a generic blurb regarding a “customer agreement” or something when you first log in, but it looks like just general info.
I called Wildblue on January 13th and after about an hour on hold, was able to speak to a technical support person. I was told that we had used up our data. He was very knowledgeable but was trying to convince me that my 14 yr old must have been downloading a lot of stuff in order for our data to get used up so much. He even said that she may have been getting up in the middle of the night and sneaking onto the internet. I countered with the fact that if she was, usage wouldn’t count against our plan because it would be after midnight, right? He agreed. She was in school, husband at work and I was working at home, hardly on the internet, during the day. During that first week, we had been unpacking and basically moving- no one was really using the internet very much. The actual usage was light surfing, paying bills, checking email, etc… I know that my daughter was not accessing the internet because I monitor her usage anyway. I decided that it was possible that we were using more than we thought, but was shocked that we went through 10Gb so quickly. I kept asking if I was missing something that could be connecting, but as I walked around the house, I found that nothing was connected at all. We do have several internet accessible devices, but only 3 laptops, 3 phones and 3 tablets have ever been connected. He was telling me that it must be Netflix, or Hulu, maybe even our Xbox. I told him that we don’t stream movies or shows and that we have never connected our Xbox. He told me that 1 in 20K modems issued by Wildblue (again, no one has ever called themselves “Exede”) are defective and that it could be the reason for the data being used up. He gave me 2 more Gb (to help troubleshoot) and told me to unplug the modem overnight and see if any data had been used. The next day, it had not. Those 2Gb were gone within 5-6 days.
They also cannot tell me when data is being used, just that it “is”. I don’t like that, if there’s a problem, I’d like to know exactly when the data is being used so that I can figure out who in my house, or what device may be connecting to the internet at that time. This is basic troubleshooting that most people could easily do themselves. They tell me that they can only see what I see as far as usage goes. Shoot, even my electric company can tell me where and when, down to the minute, my energy is being used. What good is a usage meter that only updates every 24 hours?
February’s payment didn’t go through because it is MY debit card that’s used to pay the bill every month, yet it’s my husband’s name on the account. They were trying to run the card with my number and his name. They suspended our account for non-payment 2 days after the attempt to run the payment. That’s 2 days after our billing cycle completes. I asked why no one had called sooner or what would have happened if I paid by check and was told that they don’t accept payments by mail and that it’s my responsibility to make sure the payment comes out. I’m 35 years old, own an 800K property and don’t need a bill-paying lecture from some clueless teenaged-sounding rep who can’t manage to update the name on the card. I had the same problem in April. Apparently, they just lose records or something since they can’t ever get the phone number right, nor the account info right. I also had a problem, three times, where the CSR wouldn’t discuss anything with me because I was not the “account owner”, yet I set it up and am the one who pays. INSANE. This is all because DTV is in my husband’s name and they’re the one who set it up. I guess they just transferred the info. This still has not been corrected.
For a few weeks in March, the usage meter didn’t update or show any data usage. We used the heck out of the internet for those 3 weeks, haha. I then found out that customers were not being monitored for several weeks because they were working on their systems. That would have been nice to know ahead of time and would have saved me several wasted calls and hours of my day- no CSR ever told me about “work” when I called in March, just that as far as they could see I had used ZERO data. I was afraid that something was broken and that we’d wake up one day with all of our data gone.
I’ve become the “Net Nazi” in my house- constantly lecturing my kids to disconnect their tablets and laptops so that we don’t waste data. I don’t have time to go around and disconnect every little thing. So now I just disconnect the router or modem to see if it makes a difference. It doesn’t. We’ve also gone through all devices and suspended all “start” programs that may connect to the internet so that data isn’t wasted.
I ended up buying extra data the first month at $9.99 for 1 Gb. This was just so that I could manage my bank accounts, bills, look at my daughter’s new school’s website, check the weather and send emails. No one watches videos because the speed is so slow and we’re almost always just giving up on trying to access the internet, period. It’s barely possible. I haven’t had to struggle with watching a video since around 1997 when I was stationed overseas and had dial-up. Even that primitive dial-up in the 90’s was faster.
This same scenario repeated month after month. I have called at least 2-3 times per month (sometimes more) since January to figure out what’s wrong. One afternoon, I had just purchased an additional 1Gb of data so that I could submit my homework online and I could not connect. I couldn’t even get to the Wildblue website to view my usage, especially difficult since it was slow speeds and I have to click through, and load several pages of logins- that’s just insane. This was one day prior to our cycle starting and there’s no rollover but I was desperate because I had an assignment. I was able to get ahold of a CSR who told me that there was “maintenance in my area”. They would not credit my account for the data I had just purchased because #1, she couldn’t see that I had purchased it because it hadn’t been 24 hrs, and #2, they weren’t “really responsible” for my purchase decisions. YET, there was no prior announcement, email, phone call or anything regarding this “maintenance” and I’ve also noticed that a lot of “maintenance” occurs during the “free” time from midnight to 0500. I was told that it’s been all over the Wildblue FB page- that would be GREAT, if I could actually, you know, use FB. This is after being on hold for an hour, and after about 5 minutes of her not being able to find my account information based on my email address, home address (they don’t have that on file- seriously?), phone numbers or payment info.
She finally found the account based on my husband’s old cell phone number that was NOT the number provided to them, ever, and it is also out of state. That doesn’t make sense since it had been changed before this fiasco, but I figure it must be in their system because we used to have that number for DTV. I asked her where the maintenance was occurring, thinking that maybe she was basing it off of the area code, and she would only repeat “in your area”. She was very unsure of herself and sounded like she really had no idea. I laughed and asked how they performed quick routine maintenance on a satellite in space and she, no lie, told me that “they can, uhmmm”. Duh. I was joking, I know they have local gateways that would need service...It was a total insult to my intelligence. I got absolutely no resolution with that call, a waste of my time.
This was in May. Still no bundle discounts. Yet one of the many Verizon CSRs now claims that they don’t bundle with Wildblue, Exede or Viasat in “my area”. Thanks. Now I’m locked in to a horrible service, paying twice what I paid for unlimited DSL before we moved, and just can’t get anywhere. DirecTV says “sorry, that’s Verizon’s fault”, who says- “what’s Exede? Viasat who? Would you like to add High Speed Internet to your home phone service? Oh, you can’t, sorry!” Ughhhhh. Shoot me.
Really, it’s not about the money, it’s about throwing hard-earned money and TIME away for no good reason and the fact that I can’t even use this somewhat necessary (these days) service that I pay for, and the total frustration of feeling like I was scammed from the beginning.
I have also had problems where I log on after my bank account is missing more than it should and it says that we’ve ordered, let’s say, 2 or 3+ Gb of data when I know we haven’t. I am the only one who even has access to the account; my husband has never even tried to log in because he has neither reason nor desire.
In May, it said that we ordered an extra 6 Gb of data and I know that we didn’t. I had only ordered 1 and it was gone within 2 days. When I called about it, they give me dates of when the data was ordered, but even one of those dates showed 2Gb of data ordered on the same day- no times were offered to me and when I asked, I was told that “we can only see what you see”. That usage is impossible based on the fact that I’ve gotten into the habit of disconnecting the modem or router, have banned streaming sites like YouTube, Hulu and Pandora (actually, I’ve blocked it). NO WAY, I absolutely did not order more than 1Gb, but I can’t prove it and they just take the money out of my account. That’s $110 for one month of internet that we barely used. We can’t watch Youtube, can’t listen to music and I can’t even upload photos to social network sites or my online photo album in fear that we’ll use up all of our data. I dare not attach photos to emails either. Even when we do have data to use, it’s so slow that most pages time- out before fully loaded or fail to download images and/or banners. It’s worthless and not even worth the attempt, most days.
Earlier this month, July, I was fed up. I called again after not having any service when my data usage showed a full 9Gb left (1 day after our cycle started). I had to actually drive 10 miles up the road to use my cell phone to log in because that’s faster than actually talking to a real person, which I have to since they can’t seem to keep their records updated and never have the correct account info.
I got home and called. For the first time, I had a very patient and saintly tech (I started out OK, but towards the end of the convo became very angry) explain to me that he couldn’t “talk” to my dish very well, that he was getting a poor signal and that it was either defective or had been moved out of alignment. I asked if that would explain the mystery excessive data usage and he said “no”.
He kept saying that we must have damaged or moved the dish somehow and I kept explaining that no one can even come close to the dish, it’s very high up on my roof. It took me about 15-20 mins to explain that NO ONE has been on the roof since the install, NO contractors (as he suggested), NO kids (really? Who lets their kids up on a 40 ft roof? And their installers can’t even get up there without my help), and NO footballs (??), etc…He then sets up an appointment for us to have a technician come out and perform a “service call”.
I agreed and then he began to ramble off about how it was going to cost me $95.99 or something like that and that if the tech had to replace anything or if it was determined that we damaged the equipment, it would be $149 for this, $95 for that, etc…I stopped him mid-sentence and told him that there was NO WAY I was going to pay for a service call when it is, by his own admission, their faulty equipment or their faulty installation that allowed the dish to go out of alignment. He tried to explain that it was agreed to, by the account owner, in the contract that after 90 days, that we would absorb the costs under service calls, etc... NO WAY.
I told him that I’d never seen a contract, had asked for one on paper with evidence of my acknowledgment for 7 months but was always told “it’s on your account web page”. I don’t have time to call back when I only see a generic “customer” statement that talks about their service, not MY AGREEMENT, with a name or acknowledgement on it. THAT IS NOT A CONTRACT. Aside from that, I’d been calling a few times a month since the first week- always reporting problems and being given the runaround. He said he saw all of my calls, put me on hold for 10 mins and offered to schedule the appointment for a reduced $50 service fee. I was so frustrated, I told him that this was horrible internet, that I was resentful for having to pay anything for it because we can hardly use it. We can’t watch videos, can’t upload photos, I can’t even upload my homework anymore for fear of using up the data. I mean, how much data can be used by clicking through webpages? Logging into my bank account? Looking at the news or weather? Googling a recipe? We use the internet, and data, much less than we did with our Verizon 5Gb plan that we only once went over. I told him that I was done with Wildblue, Exede, Viasat, WHATEVER they are and that he needs to just cancel the service call. I WILL NOT PAY A DIME TO HAVE THEM COME OUT AND FIX THEIR PROBLEM. He then put me on hold again and got permission from his supervisor to waive the fee. He said that they would “hate” to lose me as a customer over the price of a service call. It almost sounded condescending, as if he was insinuating that we couldn’t afford it. I told him that it was the principal and that I was just sick of dealing with their company. While he was waiting for something, we got to talking and he told me that he would never use Wildblue or Exede based on the types of calls he handles. LOVELY. I agreed to the free service call and hoped that once it got “fixed” that maybe we’d have better, faster, and less data waste with our internet. I was on the phone for 1 hour, 48 minutes.
I had scheduled the service call with that CSR on a Thursday for the following Saturday morning. On Friday, we were out late and came home to find that we had a missed call on our home phone from a number that I didn’t recognize, someone’s personal cell phone. If I don’t know your number, you don’t have my number and I’m not interested. We waited on Saturday morning. We have a mile long driveway up a mountain that is gated. We had to make sure that this tech would be able to get here. Around 10 am, I called Wildblue to leave a message for the tech or see if he got lost. I explained to the CSR that we had no cell service for about 10 miles out and gave detailed info on how to get to our house, just in case the tech was stuck somewhere trying to call. Before we hung up, she notified us that we had been rescheduled by the installer/service tech and that they would be able to come out on Wed or Thurs the following week. I was pissed. She said they’d call me. So, I go inside and listen to the VM, thinking it may have been the tech. It was. I could barely understand the message, there was a lot of background noise, heavy foreign accent and he said something about our “installation”. So, I called the Wildblue CS again, just to make sure there was no confusion. They said they’d relay our message to the tech contractor. I thought this was odd. I then, again, drove 10 miles to the side of a vineyard to upload my homework, pay some bills and send a few emails using our MiFi (which we keep for traveling). So, here I am, paying outrageous fees for internet at home and sitting on the side of the road with my laptop in my vehicle just to have access to the outside world. NOT HAPPY.
The technician called us on Tuesday and set up an appt for the next day. He arrived on time, was friendly and was easily able to realign our dish, although he still came unprepared and I ended up on the roof again, and had to climb down a few times to retrieve nuts that he dropped. Good thing I’m not an older person, or have physical limitations- what would these techs do then? If it were my grandmother, what would he do? He told me that he had just driven from Washington State to do our appt. I live in Central Cali. He said that he’s the closest tech to us. No wonder I had to wait 5 days for a service call. The internet seemed to be working OK after he left. I monitored our usage daily, (remember, it only updates every 24 hrs) and with minimal usage, the data seemed to reflect appropriately.
The following Saturday, 4 days later, my family is getting ready to go swimming because it’s about 101, in the shade, outside. My house has walls of windows, floor to ceiling and we never close the blinds because we are in the middle of nowhere and enjoy the views. I hear my husband talking to someone as I’m standing in the living room in my bathing suit. I go out and it’s the technician- covered in sweat and very concerned, I guess he was on his way back to Washington after doing a few other installs and was literally 3 hours away before he was called back to my house. He had to walk up the driveway. He said that he was called by Wildblue because we were having “problems” with our internet and that we had called for a service call. I told him that we did not.
On a side note, he’s lucky he didn’t get shot, to be honest. Had my husband not been caught off guard, and had he not been friendly enough to announce himself as he was coming up the driveway, he would have been shot. No one comes up that driveway unless we know about it, and if you’re out here for any reason other than the occasional bird watcher who gets lost and failed to notice the NO TRESPASSING signs, you’re up to no good. That’s why we have it gated and that’s why we have guns. Access is almost impossible due to the fact that the driveway curves along a steep, rocky cliff. He had to have climbed the gate to get in. He had to walk a mile in 101 degree, full sun, at a steep incline. For nothing. This is how they treat their techs. That poor man, seriously.
He called Wildblue from our house to find out why he was called and it turned out that they just didn’t close out our service request. He then told us that he had to hook his laptop up to our modem and do some programming/tech stuff to satisfy Wildblue. I wasn’t happy about it, wasn’t expecting anyone and quite frankly, was suspicious of the entire situation. But we let him do his job so that he could get home, I mean, what the heck?
I do not like the idea that he came back for no good reason and wanted to hook his laptop up to our internet, and I couldn’t imagine what he would have had to do from this end when everything was working OK. To make matters worse, he was speaking to “Wildblue” in his native language (he’s from Bangledesh), so we had no idea what the conversation was prior to him hooking up. Yes, he was a nice guy, but how do I know he’s not installing something creepy or shady onto our network? I don’t. It really makes no sense to me, the consumer, as to why he had to come back, unannounced. I’ve never had anyone do anything like that, even when we lived in civilization.
He was hooked up for about 20 mins and then we drove him back down to his truck. Since then, I’ve noticed that when I “Fing” our network, we have about 800+ “users” connected via the modem. I can actually see their network names and what ports are open or being used and based on that, if they use their real names, I can easily find out where they are. If I were a hacker, I’m sure I could get into their networks. I’m assuming that it has something to do with all people connected to our gateway, but I shouldn’t be able to see them. I’m wondering if that’s why we go through so much usage, maybe we’re all “sharing” and data is sort of split? Not sure, but it’s shady. Or, maybe this guy wasn’t really on the up and up? I called Wildblue to see what this change is all about, but after 45 mins on hold, I just hung up. I locked down our home network and devices even tighter and changed the network name, just in case.
Within a week, our entire 10Gb of data was gone. We literally spend most of our day outside and the majority of heavy surfing takes place after midnight (“FREE” time- I don’t buy it).
So, here I am. It’s 7 months, almost 8, later and I’m sitting on the side of the road sending emails because I refuse to buy anymore additional data from them. We just got a flyer from HughesNet that offers 20Gb of data for the same price we have now as well as a voice option that doesn’t count against the data for $29.99/month. Beats our “bundle”, hands down. I think it’s worth the risk of an attempt to charge us for breaking the contract with whoever we have internet with (Wildblue/Exede/ViaSat). We’ve already closed that bank account and informed our bank of the issue so that if they try to take the $400, or whatever, I see people being charged for cancelling the contract, they won’t be able to.
Let them try and sue me or send collections after me. I didn’t sign a thing and have been recording every single call since day one. My husband has not had ONE dealing with any of them, yet he’s the account holder. How can they sue him or collect on him when he hasn’t once even acknowledged having the service? Go ahead and try. Maybe I will have him call them from another number and say that we’ve been travelling for the last 7 months and came home to find a weird satellite on the roof and demand that they come get it. He’d be like, “contract you say? Internet service you say? Not THIS guy.” It seems as though the gross mismanagement of their company is going to *** them in the end. I can’t imagine how much money they must be losing.
DO NOT go with this sham of a company. Seriously, it is the absolute worst of anything I have ever dealt with. My $50, supposed to be $40, a month internet has cost me no less than $70-$80, even $110/month (except for this month because I REFUSE to buy more) since January just because I HAD to buy additional data in order to perform necessary online tasks. If there’s a class action suit, I’m so in. I am always looking online to see if someone’s starting one.
Monetary Loss: $700.