CLEAR WiMAX sucks in Seattle


I’ve been quite satisfied with my Qwest 7Mb/894Kb DSL service. It had occasional bandwidth hiccups, but none were major. Their customer service was great and the service reliability was rock solid.

A man may choose to tinker with something that’s not broken, and look for “better” alternatives. I’ve done that to my Internet access. Woe is me.

I’ve occasionally thought about switching to home WiMAX. The reasons include mobility, if we add on mobile service; fewer phone cords in the house; more latitude in configuring our home offices; and maintaining our Internet access if we move. And so last week, I made the switch: I cancelled Qwest, went to the CLEAR website, and signed up for their “Home Internet” premium service. It’s $40/month, and promised 7Mbit down (or 6Mbit, depending on the sales document) and 1Mbit up. All the stock image photos had smiling faces. What could go wrong?

My experience with it has been terrible. So much has gone wrong that I’ll have to spread the bad news across multiple posts.

Let’s talk about signing up, setting up, and the Terms of Service.

Signing up

Hmmmm…. Signing up was easy and fast. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for, move along.

Unpacking and setting up

The equipment has a sleek design. Setting it up was a little confusing, however.

They ship you Motorola’s “read me first” flier, as well as their own “read me first” flier. So…which one should you read first?

I chose to read Motorola’s RMF first. It tells you to surf to a 192.168 address to configure the modem. Simple! Alas, it doesn’t work, and never can work, because nowhere in the box or paperwork will you find the modem’s password.

A call to their customer service later, and I learn that I should completely ignore Motorola’s RMF. Hey CLEAR here’s an idea: Maybe you shouldn’t ship that piece of paper to your customers.

I’m told to just surf to any web address and the modem will automatically redirect me to CLEAR’s page for completing my account registration. And, yes, it works and I continue with my account registration.

And then…

The ToS Horror

It was at this point that I first got my inkling that my love affair with CLEAR would be short.

The Terms of Service is a horror show.

Their marketing paraphernalia doesn’t tell you ahead of time, and no salesperson will volunteer this: To get CLEAR service, you must agree to receive any and all spam on your phone number, regardless of cost.

Let me repeat that: To get CLEAR service, you must agree to any and all spam on your phone number. And agree to pay any mobile charges for it. Think I’m kidding? Here’s the agreement (click to enlarge):

CLEAR Terms of Service

Regardless of whether your phone number is in the national Do-Not-Call Registry, you consent to CLEAR and any designated agent calling you for any purpose and by any means. You must agree to receive any number of calls for any reason from any party. And if this costs you money, due to your mobile carrier’s account terms, that’s fine by you.

Did I agree to this? Yes. I had already cancelled my prior service. (Yes, I was too trusting stupid in doing so.) Umpteen other items in my life were demanding my attention, I didn’t relish having to mail back the equipment, I was looking forward to getting on the net, and I just wanted to get on with it. So I held my nose and agreed to their ToS.

If I had known about it when considering whether to switch, I wouldn’t have signed up. But…I’m 99% of the way there. So yes, I did.

CLEAR, I’m sure, made a calculated decision to tell their prospective customers about this at the proverbial last moment. They’re expecting most customers will have the same reaction I did: “Oh, you assholes. Now you tell me. [expletive string] OK, fine.”

Once I completed this step, I was on the net, with astounding bad performance, to be followed up by atrocious customer support. That’s a story for the next blog post.

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7 comments
  1. TalkToQwest said:

    Hello Steph from Qwest here,

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve left us for another provider, however, I do understand these things happen. If you decide to come back to Qwest or have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email talktous@qwest.com.

    thank you

    Steph Lake
    Manager, Talk To Qwest Team

    “At Qwest your account information is confidential and protected by law, so I need your permission to access the account.”

  2. richard said:

    Just wanted to clarify one thing about the TOS: This is standard fare– As soon as you establish a business relationship with a customer, the National DNC basically goes out the window. This part of the contract is basically just explicitly stating in the contract what any company that you do business with can actually do without explicitly stating it in the contract– Clearwire just makes it explicit in the contract.

    • John said:

      Baloney.

  3. Hello from Brooklyn.

    After 4 days of trying to get Clear to work– fifth customer support chat– I got someone who simply told me he wouldn’t help, that no one would help me, (etc).

    If you want to loose an evening developing a migraine, I say, go with “Clear!”

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