CLEAR WiMAX sucks, part deux


My first installment described CLEAR‘s Terms of Service horror show. My fun continued when I finished my account activation and got on the net.

Uh-oh

I quickly noticed a time lag in my surfing. Speedtest confirmed that the bandwidth was not what CLEAR had advertised.

CLEAR had promised me 7Mb/1.2Mb when I signed up. I was seeing 650Kb/30Kb, at best. I’d have faster bandwidth by etching bits onto rocks and throwing them at passing cars.

I verified all my connections, and tried swapping cables. The modem was near a window, and its connection indicator displayed three or four LEDs out of five.

I checked CLEAR’s unhelpful online help. “Position your modem near a window.” Check. “Make sure there’s no other equipment nearby.” Check. “Clear your browser cache.” Give me a break, but check. Still poor bandwidth.

The “chat help” Horror

I then turned to their site’s Support page, which directed me to use their online “chat” help.

The online “chat” support reps are measured by how well they prevent a customer from escalating to the next level of tech support. This is not not not identical to solving customers’ problems! They want to prevent you from speaking to a competent live person on the phone who doesn’t have his or her head embedded up their rectum knows their stuff, because it costs CLEAR more money to talk to you than to “chat” with you. Either (gasp!) solving your problem, or wearing you down the point where you give up, are the same, to CLEAR’s short-term financial position.

To make you comfortable, the reps use your first name in nearly all their responses. I found this imbued the exchange with a cloying false friendliness. They were obviously selecting canned responses from a software system that inserted my first name into a variable. “I am happy to try to assist you, John.” “Please clear your browser cache, John.” “Please look at these naked pictures I have of your sister, John.” Etc.

And WTF is it with online services asking you to clear your browser cache?! Holy Mother of God. Clearing my cache has helped in maybe .0025% of all the times I’ve had browser problems in my entire life. When I read a published paper showing that browser caches slow down the Internet, I’ll take the “Please clear your browser cache” requests seriously. Until then, please fuck off.

The “chat” help was unable to help. Their final advice was to try powering everything off, and then on. I am not kidding.

Horror #2

The next day, I decided to call their tech support desk and talk to a real person. Their web site had a pulldown menu for phone numbers, which didn’t work. Hmmm.

So I started another chat session to ask for their tech support number. The rep was obviously loath to give out phone numbers. I had to threaten to cancel my CLEAR contract to get him to cough up a number. Here’s the exchange:

I do not want to help you, John.

I called the number, and this rep asked me to remove my AirPort Extreme from the equation. The AirPort had worked fine when I was on Qwest 7Mbit DSL service, but I did as she asked. The performance was still abysmal. I called back, and was phone rep asked me to reboot my Mac in Safe Mode. Still bad performance. After quite a few more speed tests, I was escalated to CLEAR’s third level of customer support, their “Case Management Team.”

Good Stuff, Briefly

CLEAR’s Case Management Team rocks! They were thorough and very knowledgeable, with a minimum of BS!

More speed tests, a traceroute, and a remote analysis of the nearest WiMAX antenna. A repair ticket was entered for the problem. The rep didn’t commit to anything, but he suspected the problem was within their network. I was given a case number, and told I’d hear something within 24 to 48 hours.

I was happy.

Horror #3

Forty eight hours later, no call.

I called back. There had been no activity on my ticket, and I should call back if I hadn’t heard anything within three more days.

Horror #4

I waited four days, and called again. (We’re now six days out from the problem ticket’s creation.)

This time they said there was no ETA for the ticket! No action had yet been taken on it, and there was no guarantee, estimate, or guideline that I would hear anything within any amount of time. Awesome!

I went home that night and discussed this with my spouse. We decided to give CLEAR more time.

I called back the next day to ask for a refund on my first week of CLEAR. Gee whiz, that got someone’s attention. This rep now told me I’d hear something within seven to 10 days.

24 – 48 hours! Three days! Never! Seven to 10 days! How about I shove the CLEAR modem up my posterior orifice and sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah?

I’ll post the next installment of this saga in a few days, when the “7 – 10 day” period expires. Care to place bets?

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I verified all my connections, and tried swapping cables. The modem was near a window, and its connection indicator displayed three or four LEDs out of five.

I checked CLEAR’s unhelpful online help. “Position your modem near a window.” Check. “Make sure there’s no other equipment nearby.” Check. “Clear your browser cache.” Give me a break, but check. Still poor bandwidth.

The “chat help” Horror

I then turned to their site’s Support page, which directed me to use their online “chat” help.

The online “chat” support reps are measured by how well they prevent a customer from escalating to the next level of tech support. This is not not not identical to solving customers’ problems! They want to prevent you from speaking to a competent live person on the phone who doesn’t have his or her head embedded up their rectum knows their stuff, because it costs CLEAR more money to talk to you than to “chat” with you. Either (gasp!) solving your problem, or wearing you down the point where you give up, are the same, to CLEAR’s short-term financial position.

To make you comfortable, the reps use your first name in nearly all their responses. I found this imbued the exchange with a cloying false friendliness. They were obviously selecting canned responses from a software system that inserted my first name into a variable. “I am happy to try to assist you, John.” “Please clear your browser cache, John.” “Please look at these naked pictures I have of your sister, John.” Etc.

And WTF is it with online services asking you to clear your browser cache?! Holy Mother of God. Clearing my cache has helped in maybe .0025% of all the times I’ve had browser problems in my entire life. When I read a published paper showing that browser caches slow down the Internet, I’ll take the “Please clear your browser cache” requests seriously. Until then, please fuck off.

The “chat” help was unable to help. Their final advice was to try powering everything off, and then on. I am not kidding.

Horror #2

The next day, I decided to call their tech support desk and talk to a real person. Their web site had a pulldown menu for phone numbers, which didn’t work. Hmmm.

So I started another chat session to ask for their tech support number. The rep was obviously loath to give out phone numbers. I had to threaten to cancel my CLEAR contract to get him to cough up a number. Here’s the exchange:

I do not want to help you, John.

I called the number, and this rep asked me to remove my Airport Extreme from the equation. The Airport had worked fine when I was on Qwest 7Mbit DSL service, but I did as she asked. The performance was still abysmal. I called back, and was phone rep asked me to reboot my Mac in Safe Mode. Still bad performance. After quite a few more speed tests, I was escalated to CLEAR’s third level of customer support, their “Case Management Team.”

Good Stuff, Briefly

CLEAR’s Case Management Team rocks! They were thorough and very knowledgeable, with a minimum of BS!

More speed tests, a traceroute, and a remote analysis of the nearest WiMAX antenna. A repair ticket was entered for the problem. The rep didn’t commit to anything, but he suspected the problem was within their network. I was given a case number, and told that I’d hear something within 24 to 48 hours.

I was happy.

Horror #3

Forty eight hours later, no call.

I called back. There had been no activity on my ticket, and I should call back if I hadn’t heard anything within three more days.

Horror #4

I waited four days, and called again. (We’re now six days out from the problem ticket’s creation.)

This time they said there was no ETA for the ticket! No action had yet been taken on it, and there was no guarantee, estimate, or guideline that I would hear anything within any amount of time. Awesome!

I went home that night and discussed this with my spouse. We decided to give CLEAR more time.

I called back the next day to ask for a refund on my first week of CLEAR. Gee whiz, that got someone’s attention. This rep now told me I’d hear something within seven to 10 days.

24 – 48 hours! Three days! Never! Seven to 10 days! How about I shove the CLEAR modem up my posterior orifice and sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah?

I’ll post the next installment of this saga in a few days, when the “7 – 10 day” period expires. Care to place bets?

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3 comments
  1. Though the reason for the “clear your browser cache” is that for some processes (like login) you may get cached results. Sounds like it had nothing to do with this (speed test), but… 🙂

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