Nothing But Problems

"We had nothing but problems since [our account] was bought by Cable & Wireless," said Morris Allen, chief executive of Texarkana, Texas-based Internet service provider (ISP) VidcomNet. "I am not sitting here trying to slam them .

"We had nothing but problems since [our account] was bought by Cable & Wireless," said Morris Allen, chief executive of Texarkana, Texas-based Internet service provider (ISP) VidcomNet. "I am not sitting here trying to slam them . . . but when my contract with them runs out I will switch to another provider."

Two factors that made VidcomNet's experience so miserable, in Allen's opinion, are the exit of key employees and Cable & Wireless's falling prestige with its peers in the industry.

Allen's troubles started when VidcomNet decided to upgrade from a 256-kilobit-per-second leased line to a 1.5-megabit-per-second line. The constant change of project managers at Cable & Wireless left VidcomNet without any single account to work with. As a result, trouble tickets went unnoticed for days, representative technicians got sloppy and Cable & Wireless started denying wrongdoing. Allen bought service monitoring software so his engineers could pinpoint the exact location of problems that Cable & Wireless might have within its network and started confronting his account managers over at the telephone company with hard facts instead of complaints.

"I copy all these messages to my attorney, who is now on staff," said Allen, who is considering suing Cable & Wireless over the response his company received. "The last time we had problems with them, we asked for some kind of reduction in charges to compensate us. We lost a good number of our user base because of several glitches," Allen said. "Whatever little bit of credit that was offered to us was so miniature it was not worth our effort."

Jordyn Buchanan saw a similar decline in the quality of service when his former company, BestWeb, ceased being an MCI customer and became a Cable & Wireless account. Most indications were small: increases in latency and some packet loss. But the clincher was that Cable & Wireless couldn't deliver a dependable account representative familiar with the wholesale Internet industry.

"We signed up for a T1 with MCI only a few months before the divestiture. At about this time a Cable & Wireless rep stopped by to assure us there would be no problems. That was the last we heard from that rep," Buchanan said.

The next representative tried to sell BestWeb long-distance services and didn't have a clue about the Internet. "This, more than technical difficulties, was why we decided to cancel our line," Buchanan said.

Cable & Wireless officials said the staffing situation has improved. "Turnover has actually dropped as of late, and we are now hiring up to 150 people a month," said Art Medici, Cable & Wireless' senior vice president of marketing.

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