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Communications The Internet

Smaller ISPs Have Happier Customers, UK Based Study Says (betanews.com) 54

Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews: If you have eschewed the big names and opted for a smaller ISP, you probably have a happier broadband experience. These are the findings of a report which says the big four ISPs in the UK -- BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk -- are rated lower than their smaller rivals. In fact, the highest rated provider, SSE, has only been in the broadband game since 2014, with Yorkshire-based Plusnet coming in second place, says Cable.co.uk. Of the big names, TalkTalk provides broadband to 13 percent of UK internet users, yet it scored just 6.66 out of 10 and placed in ninth position. The four biggest companies accounts for 87 percent of the market, but the best performer -- Sky -- only managed to hit fifth place.
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Smaller ISPs Have Happier Customers, UK Based Study Says

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  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @03:30PM (#53298725)

    Dominant players in the market tend to recognize ability to rest on their laurels, while smaller players tend to be more aggressively trying to win business. If they fail to do that, they'd go out of business.

    Basically a company with prospects for growth will, on average, do better by their customers than a company without any prospect to grow.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I don't think it's even that complicated.

      When the end worker is so many middle-managers away from the people who think that they run the company, feedback from the bottom does not reach the top, and directives from the top do not reach the bottom. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame wrote about a quality initiative that was started at Pacific Bell when he worked there, the only noticeable difference that reached down to him as an engineer was that the word Quality appeared preprinted on their internal notepad s
      • Better customer satisfaction doesn't necessarily mean more reliable or faster service. Often it just means friendlier interaction. If you look at doctor reviews on Yelp, the biggest difference between those rated highly and lowly, is the politeness of the front desk staff. People complain about rude receptionists far more than they worry about their mom dying from a misdiagnosis.

        • Well, my mom's already dead, so a misdiagnosis wouldn't worry me much anyway.

          As for me, it's not the politeness of the receptionist (they haven't got one), but the responsiveness of their service. Their CEO was going to show up at my house on Saturday to try to resolve a modem configuration problem on a new install that we couldn't figure out over the phone. Luckily I stumbled over the incorrect setting and saved him a trip. But that's the level of service they provide.

          Their people are polite and helpful an

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          Front-office medical staff that can't or won't make things work well for me will cause me to change providers for run-of-the-mill treatment or other appointments.

          My time is fairly limited. I cannot afford to put up with problems in scheduling appointments or problems and delays with front office staff.
    • I think it's more that smaller players cherish the few customers that they do have, and strive to give them great service. While growth is always welcome, managing to hold on to the confidence of a set customer base and have a consistent cash flow does wonders to their morale, and keeps them performing. While the bigger players who are focussed on things like top line, marketshare and the like tend to sacrifice service at the altar of margins
      • ...should have finished the sentence: 'are the ones who end up disappointing their clientele'
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Basically a company with prospects for growth will, on average, do better by their customers than a company without any prospect to grow.

      Or shrink or die. Oligopolies almost always suck. They may be okay when they first become oligopolies because they still have the fire of competition in their culture. But gradually they grow too comfortable, or spend most resources on preventing new-comers rather than on being good.

      It's the main reason Microsoft failed with their mobile and tablet devices despite having e

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Smaller businesses usually don't have shareholders and recognize the importance of customer loyalty. Larger businesses tend to be more concerned with extracting as much money from people as possible while cutting corners. It's fine to want to make a profit, provided you're not cutting corners and cheating your customers. Unfortunately, telecommunications has become just as Jewish as many other industries in this regard.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      That is not necessarily a sign of being loved. Cox Communications is owned by the Cox family, it's private. It's still a very accurately named company though, based on my dealings with them.
      • They were still small when I started service with them which was really good. I've never had any trouble with them but they have a local office with the same people who have been working there for years and the line guy lives just up the street from me. The only difference I've seen is that they are more expensive and call asking me to upgrade my service at least once ever couple months. I don't have a TV subscription just internet.

        • Yeah, I too get similar invitations from Comcast, and had them from Charter and TWC previously. I politely told/tell them that I don't have a TV nor plan to, so I have exactly what I need - no more, no less
          • I've had other services do the same but we have 6 ISPs in my area not including mobile and only two of them have an office you can walk into. I think the two fiber providers split the area without any overlap.

      • by I4ko ( 695382 )
        Cox went downhill somewhere between 2011 and 2014. They are no better than Comcast now.
        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          If you have commercial service there's a fun way to annoy them. They don't call their facility a Network Operations Center or NOC, they call it a TAC or Technical Assistance Center.

          I still refer to it as a NOC or as the COX NOC. And the people that work there as COX NOCers.
  • Small ISP's usually employ local people, you can walk in to discuss/pay/whatever at n office. Where if you go with a large ISP you're likely to get an India call center, poor service, and frequently sketchy internet plans that change without notice or come with a contract. Also, the small ISP's generally offer unlimited(here in Canada anyway).
    • Whenever I've called ISPs, I've usually gotten Americans. On one occasion - w/ TWC, I had a particular issue, and in course of the conversation, asked the rep whether I could know where he was: he told me Phoenix. It would be pretty simple to recognize Indian accents - including ones disguised to sound American
  • Yup. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @03:43PM (#53298855) Journal
    Yup. I love it when I have a problem with my tiny ISP; when I call them, it's the NOC that answers, and not a script monkey with a cute accent.
    • Lately the foreign call centers seem to be using vocoders to hide the accent. You can only tell they're Indian due to the tempo
      • Wouldn't terms like 'revert back to you' or using 'kindly' when they mean 'please' be a dead giveaway?
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      The majority of issues can be solved by a script monkey. The real good thing is that they are not reprimanded for forwarding tickets to second level.
      I have seen this and was able to say to third level: If we transfer things that should not be transfered, please train us, so we GET the knowledge.

      Most of the times it is that you can only transfer X% and that means people are focussed on getting that number right and not solving issues.

  • by Arashi256 ( 1804688 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @03:48PM (#53298929)
    I'm with Zen Internet. They're cheap, they give me a static IP address, they don't mind me running a Linux server off my connection and....lord be praised....when you call technical support you immediately get to speak to an honest-to-goodness engineer. AN ACTUAL ENGINEER. Somebody who knows the difference between a web address and an IP address and doesn't ask you to turn off your firewall as part of their checklist/script. They don't supply a router when you sign up, but they seem to know the admin screens of lots of different makes and basically talked me through configuring mine over the phone. I was a Sky customer for a week once when my previous small ISP got bought out by them. Never again.
    • Zen Internet's £32.99 pcm for unlimited basic broadband (17MB down/1 up) is not cheap.

      Sky sell the same package for £15 pcm.

  • Smaller ISPs Have Happier Customers, UK Based Study Says

    That's simply because they haven't tried a Single-Payer Provider — that's where the ultimate happiness resides.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Are you talking about the isps that have cheaper rates because they don't do zero rating?

    • then bring it. Right now. As long as you don't let your local right wing party under fund it then it'll be fantastic. The here in Arizona we passed a law mandating service levels at our DMV and made sure the funding was enough and it's pretty fantastic. Short waits, knowledgeable staff. Now, you do have to watch out for folks with that "Starve the Beast" mentality who'll slash funding and then say "See, Gov't can't do anything right!". But if you do that you'll be fine.

      Put another way, I've yet to meet a
      • by mi ( 197448 )

        As long as you don't let your local right wing party under fund it then it'll be fantastic.

        Yeah, those nasty right wing AmeriKKKan$ underfunding Britain's biggest ISP?..

        made sure the funding was enough and it's pretty fantastic

        With sufficient funding, government can make anything "fantastic". The point is, competing private companies inevitably offer even better service for the same money.

        I've yet to meet a Canadian or Brit who makes under $300k/yr and would trade their Health care system for mine.

        Maybe, yo

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          Maybe, you are hanging out with a healthier crowd. Canadians certainly do cross the Southern border for healthcare.

          That article is complete bollocks in the way you're using it. Canadians are crossing the border for elective surgery that isn't covered by their universal health care... meaning people getting nose and boob jobs. Its the same as saying that Australians are fleeing to Thailand for medical care when in reality they're only going there to get their tits done at half the cost... Or Americans fle

          • by mi ( 197448 )

            Why... because the NHS is service oriented and does not need to make ever increasing profits.

            An interesting contrast you are trying to make. So, being service-, rather than profit-oriented is the key? Does that mean, non-profits are always better — should restaurants and health-clubs become non-profit too, even if that means nationalizing them?

            If not, why? What's so uniquely special about the service of health-care, that it — and it alone — is better run by the government?

            • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

              really?
              you haven't figured this part out yet?

              You're trying to applies restaurant economics to healthcare and that simply doesn't work.
              the two are not comparable.

              When you go to a restaurant, if they screw up your order you'll probably still live.
              When you go to a restaurant, and they recommend the fish it's not because the alternative is death.

              In healthcare peoples lives are on the line.
              And if they present you a choice between 200k$ surgery or certain death, it doesn't matter what your financial situation is,

              • by mi ( 197448 )

                When you go to a restaurant, if they screw up your order you'll probably still live.

                That may be a reason to regulate doctors stricter. But it is not a reason to nationalize them...

                And there is very little shopping around to be done especially because when it comes to life saving medicine or surgery time is a factor.

                Of course, there is plenty of "shopping around" — or, rather, there can be. People even travel abroad for such procedures [quora.com] — they aren't all about "boob jobs" as someone claimed. Some

        • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

          Reality calling:

          http://theincidentaleconomist.... [theinciden...nomist.com]
          -rich people have always ignored borders
          -they're not talking about life threatening medicine, but elective medicine. non-lifethreatening.

          know how you reduce wait times?
          by spending more money.

          its the old engineer axiom:
          fast, cheap, or effective. pick two.

        • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

          also many of the people who sought care outside Canada did so because they were -already- outside the country.

          the number that -left- the country to seek care is still vanishingly small, and predominantly rich.

    • Ironically, that is more the US system than the UK system. Sure, one player owns all the copper, but the government sets the rate at which that copper is sold. So the actual infrastructure is a single entity akin to a public utility but the service level is an open market. This is how small ISP's can compete against megacorps like Virgin or BT, they cant be locked out of the infrastructure. It also has the knock on effect of keeping the big boys honest. Unlike the US where telco's are given local monopoli
  • Can confirm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @03:54PM (#53298981)
    Back in college I worked tech support at the local small town ISP (San Marcos Internet, in San Marcos, TX, if anybody is wondering). It was about as two-bit of an operation as it could be. Although their transfer speeds couldn't come close to what the bigger players in town offered (TWC, Grande Communications), people absolutely LOVED us for the simple reason that we actually cared about our customers, which they found absolutely refreshing compared to the treatment they'd get from the bigger guys. We'd do things like have people bring their computers in so that we could fix all the fucked up things wrong with them (remove viruses, spyware, etc). Eventually they got scooped up by one of the bigger guys (Grande), which really pissed a lot of folks off.
    • Hmm, and here I was thinking of Grande as a smaller guy. I'm in the situation where Google is unveiling fiber and heavily advertising, and I have to choose if I want to stay with Grande or go with the faster Google Fiber. I'm not sure if I want all my base are belong to Google.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @04:59PM (#53299563)
    is that they're too small to realize the cost savings from screwing their customers over in little ways. A 10 minute wait isn't worth it for them. Ditto Saving $100 bucks on some switches by buying the cheap stuff. Those little costs savings are huge for a mega corp. Your lousy customer service is some mid grade VP's summer home.
  • by nicolaiplum ( 169077 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2016 @05:27PM (#53299897)

    My smaller ISP (Zen Internet, zen.co.uk) certainly provide good service.

    When you can create a trouble ticket with your ISP advising them that they have a likely link problem causing packet loss and resulting traffic congestion in their peering with another ISP, including route traces from several directions, and they respond within 2 hours thanking you for the report and having fixed the problem - then you know they're the ones to be with.

    They're also more than averagely resistant to media industry intimidation pass-through (they demand a court order, instead of just giving up info at a whim) and government surveillance (they don't sign up to "voluntary" Government initiatives for more inept censorship).

  • The four biggest companies accounts for 87 percent of the market

    Now it might make sense that if the subject is plural (hence, usually ends with an 's') the verb should too. It might make sense if you are normally speaking the jolly old Pundujabit, old chap.

    But it's doesn't work like that.

  • In the US, you can find a small ISP servicing your address at http://isp.ninja/ [isp.ninja]

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      It said 'Sysyem Error'. Not that helpful, but somehow it sums it all up nicely.

  • The barrier to entry for the resources to monitor customer usage to basically working for free for the media cartels, the period of data retention, and other legal requirements are a big barrier of costs of entry on the business that familiar ISPes can no longer afford.
  • The advantage of big companies is that they gain economies of scale. But customer service doesn't scale very well. Every time customer service becomes a focus, the accounting department shuts down the budget. Call center personnel are low paid and poorly trained because their managers are low paid and poorly trained, having come up through the ranks of the underfunded call centers. This happens across the board. The engineers know that they could improve reliability (and customer satisfaction) by upgrading

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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