Please Excuse Longer than Typical eMail Responses

We use Wild Blue Satellite Internet at the homestead.  It has worked fine since December and made our lives a lot better.  It has worked much better than the old solution I used which was an AT&T wireless card.

However for some reason our service went down Monday and hasn’t come back up.  I called tech support and was walked though power cycling the modem and router as though I was some retard even though I told them I had done it already three times.  I complied and did it again and was told that it didn’t work and we needed to have a tech come out to work on it, well duh!

Issue, they “can’t get anyone to our location until April 10th”, really?  No what they actually mean is they don’t have any techs in the area for new install until then and don’t want to eat the trip charge to send one!  So I am 13 days with out service, they promise to rebate that AFTER they fix the issue.

The upshot is Wild Blue doesn’t seem to give a crap about customer care.  They may be your only option but if you have anything else you can use, my advice is don’t use them.  By the way if you get HughesNet they are a private label Wild Blue and you can expect the same crappy service.  Consider that my PSA of the day.  I don’t run TSP on Wild Blue as it isn’t for business operations but I consider answering email to be something it is designed for.

The big issue here is that I generally leave my office by about 2PM central and while I can use my iPhone for short email responses anything requiring a detailed response is likely to have to wait until the next day until we get our connection back.   I should also note I pay for the absolute highest level of service you can possibly purchase from Wild Blue, so my experience is clearly the best you can expect.

I asked a supervisor if she would be okay if her phone, TV, electricity or any other service was going to be down for 13 days with out any attempt by the provider to fix it, she responded with no.  When I asked her why I should be okay with the same treatment from them, she said, “I understand how you feel”, well perhaps enough TSP members will choose someone else to make them know how I feel.

I don’t call for boycotts mind you and again I am keeping them because in some instances for now they are the only option.  I am just saying based on my experience make damn sure they are the only option before you do business with them.  Clearly they are a company that values your business so little as to allow more than two business weeks to pass before they even attempt to fix your problem.

PS – If anyone from Wild Blue happens to be reading this it may interest you to know that the audience of TSP is currently in excess of 35,000 people.  Many live in or are moving to rural areas, in other words your prime customer base.  Perhaps a few hundred in trip and over time charges to one of your techs would have been a less expensive choice?

45 Responses to Please Excuse Longer than Typical eMail Responses

  1. I had a similar experience with their hughesnet offering, although I could add no call backs, missed appointments, and lack of respect from the customer service reps. In my case, the installation company was literally 6 miles away and they would not support the installation. With that said, I’ve heard others have had no issues. Personally I won’t be giving them any other chances.

  2. Hey Jack,
    Just in case you weren’t aware,
    you can use your iphone as a wireless hotspot (technically a bluetooth hotspot). That would allow you to connect a laptop to the 3g network and answer emails efficiently.

    • Modern Survival

      How does one do this Andrew?

    • Hotspot instructions are here Jack:

      http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4517?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

      If you don’t pay extra for tethering it will tell you to sign up for it and take you to that webpage.

    • @ Jack http://www.gadgetreview.com/2011/09/how-to-turn-your-iphone-into-a-wifi-hotspot.html I hope this helps.

      P.S. An Iphone? Really? I thought most survivalists used Android. JK. Enjoy

    • We use this option in our business, and it works well for the road-warriors. I think we pay $20/mo/phone for 2 GB/mo/phone (and this 2 GB is *separate from* your existing data plan). And there is reasonable per-GB charge after the base 2-GB, should we need it. YMMV, depending on your provider.

    • True, you can pay for the tethering feature. However there is a way to unlock the tethering feature without paying the extra monthly fee. The way I see it, you already pay for a certain amount of data every month–it makes no sense to charge extra simply to port that connectivity to a pc. AT&T is really the only provider that charges…

      To do so:
      You have to jailbreak your iphone to open the platform. It’s a quick and painless process, one which millions of iPhone users have already done. From there you download an app called “MyWifi 5.0″ from the jailbroken app store, “Cydia”.

      You can google “jailbreak” along with your current firmware version and iphone model to get detailed instructions. Specifiy the os you use too! (different software used for windows and mac)

      Latest Jailbreak procedure: http://www.redmondpie.com/how-to-jailbreak-iphone-4s-ipad-2-on-windows-using-cli-tool-tutorial/

      MyWifi 5.0: http://intelliborn.com/mywi.html

      Been jailbroken and using mywifi for years to access work remotely…
      absolutely no problems to date

    • The only caveat I can imagine is if you have a grandfathered in unlimited plan. In this case, I would be careful about data usage because if you burn through an unusual amount of data, it will trip red flags. But like I said if you are on a capped monthly data limit, then no problems.

  3. This is the free market in its purest form.

    • Modern Survival

      @Chris P, precisely I am not telling anyone what to do or not to do, just what happened so they can make and informed decision.

      • Hey Jack,

        Here is Apple’s info on how to tether your iPhone to create a personal hotspot.

        support.apple.com/kb/HT3574

  4. It disgusts me to see customers treated so badly. Stuff like this is why I actually quit a good, cozy job a few years ago..

    I’m betting if you had called them and told them you wanted to sign up their service and start giving them money that they’d have someone out there a lot quicker.

  5. I had the same rotten experience with WildBlue. My dish still sits on my roof, but the last time it crapped out, I called them and said, ‘cancel my service’. They are bad about throttling back bandwidth, not calling back on service calls, and will no-show after you’ve sat at home all day waiting for them. Anyone thinking about trying them should heed our experiences and try something else .. ANYTHING else. I’m thinking of taking down my dish and turning it into a bird bath… at least it would be good for something.

  6. Hi Jack,
    Here’s an article on how to use your iphone as a hotspot:
    http://www.macworld.com/article/1158556/personal_hotspot_att.html
    I’ve used it a few times when on business trips and, though it’s far from ideal, it’s a lot better than nothing!
    Good luck,
    -D

  7. rich hutchins

    This is a good wake up for all of us to have a backup internet connection if possible. remember – 2 is 1 & as we see in this case 1 is none… I have iPhone 4 not the new one. I will look into seeing how i could use it as a backup internet connection & share it as a wifi hotspot. I hope i can do it with my model. I hope you get this fixed soon. Also i hope you get a discount for time not connected, and also- the ‘highest level of service’ – do you mean connection speed or customer service? Good luck

    • Absolutely is Rich !

      My backup devices have carrier diversity where possible.
      e.g. If phone is AT&T and has a hotspot, then iPad is Verizon model.

      There are some decent pay-as-you-go (no contract) dedicated hotspots, but the data plans aren’t cheap.
      My T-Mobile hotspot is $50 for 5GB, and you only get 5GB, but it’s my 3rd option.

  8. My mother had Hughesnet for a while and it was the only option besides dialup in the area. Needless to say the hughesnet receiver had it’s life ended with a hammer because of the crappy service she received from them with similar situations.

    With a jailbroken iPhone there is a program called MyWi ($19.99 one time) that will allow you to use your iPhone as a mobile hot spot. Verizon also offers mobile broadband for some smartphone devices ($20.00 monthly).

    Verizon has a mobile hotspot standalone device as well, I know a few that use that now since they have 3g service in the rural areas and not broadband. Allows 5 users to connect and one person that has it, their son uses it for online gaming with a PS3 so it’s a decent connection.

    Other providers may have similar devices, but not positive.

  9. There is another fix. Find the survival guy email, or website, he has fixes for almost everything. Not sure if he will respond or not. Very private.

  10. rich hutchins

    Info on how to setup iphone as personal hotspot: http://www.macworld.com/article/1158556/personal_hotspot_att.html BUT – if you have an unlimited data plan, you probably do not want to do this…. [unlimited dataplan $30 which is no longer available, if you have this you can keep it as long as you don’t change it]. They require you to switch to a different specific data plan to use this hotspot feature- and once switched to this plan, you cannot go back to your unlimited plan ever again. So i do not want to loose my unlimited plan status so i can’t use this

    • Modern Survival

      @rich hutchins, looks like I have to pay the ATT Gods extra to do this. There are hacks but I am not at a point were I feel justified using them, good to know they are there in case such use is really warranted though.

  11. rich hutchins

    ooh.. there is another way.. check option #2 on this page: http://www.gadgetreview.com/2011/09/how-to-turn-your-iphone-into-a-wifi-hotspot.html

  12. I will not and would not use wild blue. They were rude and extremely unhelpful when I first called to get info as I was thinking about getting their service. I figured if they can be that bad to a future customer the service could only get worse.

    We went with Air Speed the only other option for our area other than dial up which I used up till 9 months ago at 28k never could get 49 so very very slow 20 min to just log on to my banking site. Air Speed has been so very helpful and right on top of thing for me. Trust me I put them through their paces. Worse that a 3 yr old asking questions. Don’t know what their system is or if they have something like this any where else. I am glad they are here.

  13. Hey, Jack. Don’t know if it’s available on iPhone, but I have started using PDAnet and is works really well. You have to install a driver on your PC and it is generally better to hook up a USB cable to the phone, but you don’t get dinged for tethering. It is quite good for answering emails when no other option is available.

    Search your market for PDAnet by June Fabrics Tech. I have tried other methods even jailbreaking/rooting my phone, but PDAnet just works without having to jailbreak or root anything.

    Drew

  14. robertdseals

    I get the same thing. Also, do you have problem with upload/download limits? We hit ours a couple of times and they really slowed our service until it “rolled over” at 30 days. Sux for sure!

  15. Raymond "Shorty" Butler

    Hughes Net and Wild Blue both, I had no idea they were one and the same, used one after the other – worst 6 months of my internet career -lost money and time all the way around, that’s how they stay in business.

  16. I just finished helping a wild blue customer get away from the tyrany. Got any neighbours within a couple miles that have a wired connection that would share with you? 900mhz wireless gear can go thru trees decently. wild blue just got purchased by ViaSat who obviously doesnt care aboutthe customers.

  17. Jack! I have had to resort to using wild blue since 2006, both at the previous ranch and we moved just as DSL was being installed and now at the new home… we are rural enough that we had to go with wild blue again… We have been forced to pay the maximum plan for all these years and over and over, they cut off my bandwidth to nothing… always right in the middle of doing website overhauls, moving to new hosting, etc… mission critical times… I HATE their business model, terms of (rapacious) service, and everything about them! …and they were recently acquired by another company so expect the service to go down farther, and the squeeze on you, the customer, for additional profits to continue…

    So, you would do yourself a service, to really find other means of connectivity, than wildblue… they are truly horrendous service, and ridiculously expensive.

  18. Great PSA!

  19. Jack I dropped Hughes.net for a cell phone modem and external antenna. It works great here in the East Texas sticks. The limits are bigger also, I get 10 gigs a month and if I go over its $10 a gig instead of just getting cut off as with hughes.net

    Here is my setup and links.

    Pantech® 4G LTE USB Modem UML290
    http://www.verizonwireless.com/pantech-4g-lte-usb-modem.shtml

    Cradlepoint MBR95 Wireless N Home Router w/ WiFi as WAN
    http://3gstore.com/product/3029_cradlepoint_mbr95.html

    Wilson Tri-Band Yagi external antenna
    http://3gstore.com/product/2792_yagi-triband-antenna-wilson-304411.html

    This provides internet for my whole house network either wired or wireless. I am sitting out on my back porch with my laptop listening to your show now.

    RobertVB

  20. Jack,

    Regarding Hughesnet v Wild Blue, I’m highly familiar with both systems (they’re not the same). I deal with both on a regular basis, and can tell you Hughesnet is simply better across the board. Please let me know if there’s anything I can help with; I probably have some resources to throw your way. Considering your situation it wouldn’t be a bad idea to learn how to service your owninternet system (ain’t rocket science if i can do it!). 90% of issues are caused by a substandard initial install, which then leads to being tied up in the crappy customer service. The technology for what you need is there, the trick is to not let poor customer support trip you up. I’m an avid follower and would be happy to help.

    • Modern Survival

      @Todd, I am pretty sure I could get up on the roof and re home the dish, should something go wrong though it will leave me “holding the bag”. Let me also say, yes Hughes is the same as Wild Blue. Wild Blue is the back end of Hughes, different people may answer the phone but he same installers and techs do the work and the service is on the same network. Glad you got better results dealing with Hughes but as you can see in the comments your results are not typical. I don’t think there is anything you can do unless it involves speeding up WB response time.

      Keep in mind in my past I built Cable TV head ends including installing both digital and C-band dish arrays. I know how all this stuff works but I am not about to mess around with leased equipment in anything short of an emergency.

      • Modern Survival

        FYI the source of my information that WB is the backend provider of Hughes is Wild Blue themselves.

      • Yeah, I’ve certainly got the crowd against me here. Jack, I’m not one to “post” or chime in much on stuff like this very often… just thought I would see if I could help out. My livelihood for the better part of 5 years has dealt with WB & Hughes, and from where I sit the two are night and day. Believe me, I get how frustrated your situation is. Once you get caught up with those fucks in “tech” support you’re pretty much guaranteed to be pissed.

        One last question and I’ll leave you alone; Was the system installed by a local mom & pop or a larger Home Services rep (Dish Network or DirecTV)? If you can get ahold of that local company, ask to talk to one of their WB techs. There’s so much stuff they can troubleshoot that typical tech support doesn’t know dick about.

        Well, good luck, Jack. Thanks for such a great show!

        • It looks like your install was out of Little Rock(via DirecTV Home Services). As soon as they see the service call, you should be hearing from them. It shouldn’t take till 4/10, Wild Blue doesn’t know shit. Once they farm out the work order, it’s up to the HSP to schedule. Keep me posted, Ill try to help expedite.

  21. Ditto the poor Wild Blue experience here. The folks were pleasant enough, but there was no sense of urgency to react to customer issues. The technology also seemed flaky…my Direct TV and Wild Blue dishes had the same sky view. Unless the dish was completely snow covered Direct TV worked…rain and heavy fog seemed to disrupt Wild Blue (they concurred).
    Unexpected upside to having your rural community devastated by flood: The destroyed phone switching equipment was replaced with current gear, and DSL became available!!! Good riddance Wild Blue!

  22. Sheri in Virginia

    Interesting, I have the same problem (I think mine started last week) and I received the same response. I didn’t ask how long it would take to get the tech out here because I did ask if there was a charge and was told it would be $49.95. We previously used HughesNet. We got both ISP’s through DirecTv. DirecTV dropped HughesNet for Wild Blue, now they no longer use Wild Blue but different carriers depending on your area. We’ve had techs out here before to adjust the dish and do whatever else it is they do and I don’t think we had to pay for it before. We are considering pursuing other options although I don’t know what they might be; don’t think we have many, perhaps Verizon wireless but our rooms are hard-wired and I would prefer that to wireless.

  23. The Other Guy

    Is dial-up an option for you in the short term? It’s what I use everyday for email/browsing (just remember to turn off graphics).

  24. Looks like both options suck with Hughes net / Wild Blue – not too many options without good communications. Maybe a cell phone range extender that does not require HS internet?

    One option I was looking at was http://3gstore.com/product/1627_wilson_electronics_soho-kit-rvpanel.html to boost fuzzy cell phone reception. At the time the land line would support maybe 2400 on a good day. Hughes was going out every few days (over sold), and when you got FAP you wish you were back on dial up service.

    For some reason – after the 2 year service contract the Hughes would say an equipment upgrade was needed….after saying it’s time to cancel – the service would go back to normal for a week or two.

    Maybe going to http://www.dslreports.com might be worth while to help research options in your area.

    Good place to start http://www.dslreports.com/forums/all

  25. My uncle has wild blue/Hughes net and has had similar issues with it going very slow due to bad weather and various other problems. I personally refused to use there service because of what I saw with his service. I wish verizon offered more than a few gigs of data trough a wireless broadband card or even another company even. Since none do they lose out on a lot of potential customers like myself. The only option I can give is IF and a big if you have sprint /virgin Mobile service if your area try there wireless card last I checked they were the only one with a big wireless data package (VM piggy backs on sprints networks if I remember right).. America is behind the times in bringing people in rual areas high speed Internet… Why?

  26. This is why TSP is so true in its call for common sense. Three cheers to Jack for sticking it to the man, Kinda.

  27. krispycritter

    Jack, got some flyers for this service, http://www.viasatresidential.com/ recently and when I went to the homepage they list both WildBlue and Exede on there. I’ve had Hughes before, it was a PITA, but until DSL showed up, it and WB were the only thing available. All the neighbors have tried WB and dropped it within months. Not sure if ViaSat and Hughes are linked. Exede gets pretty high marks but don’t know if they use different equipment than WB or Hughes. Good luck.

  28. Jack,

    I have local contact info for you on that Wild Blue repair, you should be able to reach out to them directly to expedite. FYI… there are installs scheduled in your neck of the woods well before 4/10. Let me know and I’ll get you the particulars.

    Todd

  29. Hey Jack, I have a bunch of Verizon 3G USB cellular internet modems with long range mobile antennas and antenna adapters that are pay-as-go with no monthly fees (great for back-up internet service).
    The modems have a built-in antenna and a port to allow the attachment of a mobile antenna or a fixed antenna for home use.
    Verizon is known to have excellent 3G coverage in most areas of the country, but I would check your area ahead of time.
    I will gladly donate one or two of them to you in appreciation of the the good work you do, just let me know.

  30. My wife & I have used Hughesnet for the past 2 years and haven’t had any problems a reboot won’t fix. Dial-up is our only other option and we don’t get a cell phone signal where we live, so we can’t go that route, either.

    The Hughesnet is good for what it is. It doesn’t work in bad weather, but I can live with that. Hughesnet used a small privately owned satellite-type company in our area to do the install and after shootin the breeze & offering food & beer to the guy along with helping him with the install, I was able to score his business card that he said I could contact him directly if we had problems (bypassing Hughesnet customer service)…..just fyi, befriend the installer & they might help you out if you ever need it.