AOL last week announced plans to increase the price of its dial-up service by $2 a month (to $25.90) to match the price of its high-speed DSL and cable services. The company rationalized that the price hike would encourage dial-up users–the majority of its remaining customer base – to move on to broadband.
Sure, the move will likely lead those price-sensitive customers who were sticking with dial-up just because it was cheaper to consider what they’ve been missing. Some young bloggers expressed relief that the new price structure will finally force their loyal parents to move into modern times.
But others say it comes at the risk of losing, once and for all, those customers–particularly the ones in rural, broadbandless areas–who feel completely slapped in the face by the company’s strategy.
My father is one of those in a non-rural area that lacks from broadbandless. He has tried for more than 5 years to get anything except dial-up, with no luck. He lives not 35 miles north of Seattle in a suburb just 5 miles from the Boeing Plant, surrounded by hi-tech and city life.
Yet, he is on the very edge of the local Indian Reservation which does not offer high speed Internet services. I’ve called them many times for him and they say “We’re evaluating the service.” When asked how long that evaluation will take, they say at least 2 years. Well, that was 5 years ago and there is still nothing. They may have the latest and greatest casino technologies, but they lack when providing services to their local residents.
When I visit, he asks me for help getting on the Internet. He wants it to go faster. It takes 3-90 minutes to get a connection with AOL. You think I’m kidding. It once took me 3 hours sitting in his dark and musty living room! It takes 3-8 minutes for the AOL main screen to load before he can click the EMAIL button. It is another 3-8 minutes before he sees the first page of his email, which is usually not his inbox, but the list of folders he can choose from, including his inbox. He then clicks the inbox button and waits again. This can take even longer.
Look at my websites? NOT. While my websites are designed to be streamlined and load fast, they still take a LONG time on his Internet connection. Not as long as the cumbersome AOL screens, but long enough for him to quickly lose interest.
And for this, AOL wants to charge more money.
I know I’m editorializing, and I agree that people need to be pushed into faster and better computer and Internet systems to keep up with the times. But why should the customers stuck in places where they have no control over their Internet services be forced to pay extra for the inconvenience of using their services? Shouldn’t phone companies and cable companies be pushed and shoved into providing coverage to EVERYWHERE?
So again I will get on the phone to the Indian Reservation to find out what is going on with that damn study and if anything else is available. And I will call the local phone companies and cable companies to see if they have pushed their coverage over 1 block to include my father (the house behind his has DSL and Cable Internet). And if I come up empty again, then I will dig around for a local dial up service that is affordable and will work for my dad.
Keeping up with the times isn’t just costly, it’s a freakin’ pain in the butt.