My Latest Qwest DSL Horror Story

From my perspective, Qwest has improved its service and offerings in several ways, but holy cow, they still have some silly policies.

This past June, our Qwest DSL modem went out. A technician came to the house and found nothing wrong. It took four days for him to get there. Ironically, just after he left it started working again. Then, about 3 weeks ago, it went out again. I called Qwest DSL tech support and was greeted by a much friendlier representative than before.

He pointed out that electrical surges, and particularly lightning storms, cause problems with the particular modem that I had. It all started to make sense--there had been lightning storms in close time proximity to when the modem had failed, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few days.

They agreed to send me a newer-model modem for nothing but a deposit fee of $99.99. I have the new modem, and it works great. I sent the old modem back via UPS two weeks ago. My bank account is now overdrawn, because Qwest still hasn't credited my money back to it.

I called Qwest today. They told me that, yes, they had received my modem, but that it would be 3 or 4 weeks before they could refund my money.

Keep in mind that it is a bank account that they need to apply a credit to--they don't need to mail me a check. Do you know how long it took them to take the money out of my account? From the time I said, yes I want the new modem--about 32 seconds.

I can think of nothing but that Qwest is trying to make some interest off my money, which would amount to about 65 cents over the course of the extra month they used to twiddle their thumbs and file their nails before they credited my account.

Qwest is improving, but it seems only begrudgingly--when they have to to keep in competition. I'm not sure what the fastest speeds are for residential DSL, but holy cow, they're only about half what some people can get here in Utah with Utopia! And that's not to mention how much better internet speeds are in Japan and even Canada.

I remember when I first signed up for DSL. I had to talk to 6 different people, each of whom could only see their little slice of the non-empowered pie. About a year ago, I tried to upgrade to 1.5Mbps from 640Kbps and was given the runaround by the customer support representative. More recently, they've done a better job of customer support. But the payments department? It needs a massive overhaul.

I wish I could say that I'm through with Qwest nightmares, but I kind of expect another one sometime soon.


  1. These kinds of stories are commonplace for Qwest, even in neighboring markets. Prior to moving here, I heard nothing but bad about Qwest and its messed-up billing practices. They're also the only large telco not building some kind of next-generation triple-play service. Being an incumbent has made them lazy and apathetic, the legacy of the botched-up 1984 AT&T break-up.

  2. I have been a seven year boycott of Qwest.

    When I first got married I called Qwest to set up one phone line and caller ID. The bills were extremely high for a couple of months until I finally noticed that I was being charged for 3 phone lines, caller ID, and call waiting. I called to complain and they said there was nothing they could do about the extra charges, and from that time on I have used cell phones only and cable internet.

    A few years back Qwest was awful. I hear they have improved, but I'm can't bring myself to end the boycott.

  3. I've been with Qwest for about 9 years now... Initially there were some billing problems, but I had nothing but good experiences when speaking with their reps (granted, this is about the same time I was dealing with AOL so everything would have seemed better.

    I've had DSL for about 2 years now. I was with UtahWISP before, and so I'm not sure it is possible that Qwest could have worse service than them. My modem has gone out a couple of times, but generally pulling the power for a couple of minutes corrects any problems.

    I have been using Comcast temporarily for the past few weeks, and my impression has been that it is far quicker with downloads, but painfully slow with uploads. I do a lot of freelance web development, so this is a big deal for me.

    All in all though, I think when you factor in price, speed and the ability to speak to someone actually located in the US... Qwest aren't too bad. Of course that's not to say they wouldn't benefit from a little competition!

  4. I'll be first in line though if Utopia ever makes it up to Northern Davis County!

  5. A long, long time ago, in the sleepy little company where I worked as the technology manager, we had two Qwest DSL lines: one was 640K, and the other was 256K. One day I called Qwest and told them I was now ready to upgrade the slower of the two lines to 640K. No problem, I was told, the work order has now been entered into the system. Great, I replied, what's the ETA for this upgrade? Four to six weeks is the average turnaround, was the answer. Oh, I responded, that's disappointing to hear...what kind of work does it take to upgrade this line? Well, came the reply, a technician has to swap out a card in the Central Office. But, I protested, that doesn't sound like so much work...why, even I could do that, and the CO is just around the corner...all I need is the card and a key to the lock! Oh no, I was told, the work has to be performed by one of our highly-trained professional technicians, and since we utilize a first-in, first-out workflow methodology, we estimate it will be four to six weeks before your work order comes due. But, I argued, doesn't the fact that I am UPGRADING my service which means MORE REVENUE for Qwest because I will be paying over twice as much for the upgraded line just as soon as it is installed suggest that my work order should receive some kind of priority over ones that don't mean MORE REVENUE like service cancellations and repairs of existing service? Nope, was the answer, it's strictly first-in, first-out. Oh well, I sighed, just make sure your technician contacts me just prior to swapping out the card so that I can notify my users, because this DSL line affects business-critical applications on my LAN. Sorry, came the rejoinder, we can't do that...when your work order comes due, your existing line will first be disabled by one technician, then your work order is passed to another technician who actually swaps out the card. Wait, I implored, how much time does it take between disabling the existing line and swapping out the card? It varies, was the response, it could be hours, it could be days, it could be weeks, there is no guarantee. STOP! I literally shouted at the top of my voice, YOU CAN'T DISABLE THAT LINE FOR DAYS OR WEEKS WHAT PART OF BUSINESS-CRITICAL APPLICATIONS DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND YOU DO REALIZE THIS IS A BUSINESS DON'T YOU? YOU CAN'T JUST DISABLE MY INTERNET ACCESS YOU KNUCKLE-HEADED IDIOT! CANCEL THE WORK ORDER!!

    And thus Qwest and I parted ways. The end.

  6. Based on that story, I'm guessing that Qwest's compensation package includes a big free-for-all barrel of crack. No right-thinking person would act like those kinds of time frames are normal or acceptable.

  7. I remember the day when I was nearly yelling at the top of my lungs when the 5th Qwest rep announced that he would have to transfer me to another rep to get my other question answered. My co-workers thought I was nuts.

    It does seem now that more often Qwest have been empowered to take care of the whole problem by themselves, with the ironic exception that when I called to find out where my modem refund was, I was transferred to the accounts department.

    Hopefully accounts is the last redoubt of a failed bureaucracy and will transform itself like most of the rest of Qwest appears to have.


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