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June 11, 2007

Embarq DSL Only $24.95: Your Price Until Pigs Fly*

Filed under: Internet,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

Embarq 24.95 til pigs fly Isn’t it nice to finally find a company that doesn’t play pricing games with their Internet service?  So many ads offer a low come-on price for a short period, then the price goes up. That’s what one consumer thought who recently wrote to Consumer World.

Embarq, which is the local phone company spinoff from Sprint, is advertising a fixed price of $24.95 for high-speed Internet service, and says that it is “your price until pigs fly.” [website 1/13/07]  They also say “a price that won’t budge” … “for as long as you have the service.” 

The consumer decided to sign up because he could save money by cancelling his existing NetZero dial-up service, and even cancelling his local phone service since he had a cellphone. He could now get high-speed Internet for less than he was currently paying for slower service.

Of course, Mouse Print* would not be looking at this ad unless there was more to it than meets the (pig’s) eye.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Embarq details

pigs fly 2The fine print above indicates that the company can just cancel the service, which, obviously, would immediately extinguish the $24.95 “forever” price. In addition, their standard terms and conditions page has more fine print than a phonebook, yet seems to be currently missing detailed rules about their residential Internet service. In part it reiterates they can discontinue a service with 30 days notice, but makes no mention of the customer’s right to a fixed price for life. Also, since the fixed bargain DSL service price is linked to local phone service,  local phone service prices could easily go up with regulatory approval where required.

Unfortunately, the consumer did not read the fine print, and Embarq did not direct him to it by means of using an asterisk next to the price. He didn’t realize that the $24.95 price is only available as part of a package of telephone services, that he no longer has. He didn’t know they would add a $10 Internet access charge to his bill. And he didn’t realize to get out of this mess he would have to pay a $99 early termination fee.

There is no happy ending to this story, but a moral. You have to read the mouse print, and know that most phone companies do not sell “naked DSL.”  

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10 Comments

  1. This is very similar to the AT&T/Yahoo DSL service.
    They advertise $14.99 with all sorts of attached services.

    I opted for the $19.99 plan that essentially has no other fees as long as I am part of their local & long distance plan. Since my monthly bill is about $35 plus long distance charges, I really don’t have any complaints (but I don’t make a lot of long distance calls.

    Comment by RS — June 11, 2007 @ 9:54 am
  2. I have had similar experiences. AT&T /DSL will raise your
    price without notice. Once you catch them they are polite
    about reducing your price to the lower level, but you must
    keep vigilant. This has happened once a year for each year
    I have had the service.

    Now to AT&T’s credit I have had excellant service. By that I
    mean no loss of speed, no interruptions of service, reasonable
    service when calling about a bill.

    Comment by JP — June 11, 2007 @ 3:21 pm
  3. I’ve had current experience with both Embarq and ATT DSL services due to a change in location.
    I found Embarq’s practices to be very confusing if not deceptive. Their DSL service is actually $34.95 a month ($24.95 + $10 for internet access fee!)unless you buy their bundled services, in which case DSL becomes a $24.95 service in addition to fees for all those other bells & whistles for your local service. And their DSL service requires a 1 year contract, with a hefty penalty for early termination. We received conflicting information from different agents regarding requested changes to our service and this resulted in some undesirable and confusing service and bills!
    For the same level of DSL service, ATT is only $19.95 a month, no contract, & only need local phone service with no other strings attached. Their service and customer support has been excellent and far superior to my previous experience. All these companies need to publish their services and rates, including all fees, in a clear & concise manner! A chart would be more helpful instead of confusing language. The consumer needs all the facts in order to make an informed decision! Thank you, Mouseprint, for helping us with that.

    Comment by L.L.G. — June 11, 2007 @ 10:26 pm
  4. Section 1.1 of the “standard terms and conditions” that was linked indicates that document is applicable to retail business accounts not residential accounts. Is there any other evidence that Embarq is free to change the pricing after the one year term?

    The price for up to 1.5 megabit DSL from Embarq is $24.95 with a qualifying voice bundle – hence the term “promotion.” Without the bundle, the price is $10 more. Yes, the Embarq website does a poor job of relating this.

    Embarq can choose to stop providing DSL service to any customer, thus ending the price for life. As was quoted in the article, “a price that won’t budge” … “for as long as you have the service.”

    Comment by Joshua — June 12, 2007 @ 11:26 am
  5. I am not in the least surprised part of the mouseprint was ‘not available in all areas’. DUH! If they were
    nearly as available, they’d be nowhere competitive at $25 a month today anyway./

    Comment by Josh — June 13, 2007 @ 3:29 am
  6. Josh,

    While I am not disagreeing with the confusing polices, there are some parts of this that are not Embarq’s fault.

    The “not available in all areas” clause is because of the limitations of DSL as a technology. There are several restrictions to where they can (even if they want to) put dsl service and what speeds of service they can offer at some locations. Restrictions such as: how far (along the line) from your location your “central office” (the place where the servers and D-slams are not the place you pay your bill); if there are any fiber optic lines, pair gains, repeaters, ect; or if they own the lines on your street. If you are too far away from the central office (more than 18000 feet along the wire) they can’t even get you DSL service.

    Some of these restrictions fall in the fundamentals of DSL technology. I have worked as a network tech for Verizon Online DSL and have a better than average understanding of the systems at place. If you (or Edgar) would like some more detailed explanation of some of the technology’s limitations then feel free to contact me and I would be happy to explain them.

    P.S. Yes, your you legal sticklers out there, the UNEP act allows them to use competitor’s networks and wires to transmit DSL service, but they must rent the lines and because of the extra cost, most DSL providers will either not use those lines or not offer promotional rates if they must rent the lines.

    Comment by Chris — June 15, 2007 @ 1:27 am
  7. I guess slightly off-topic, but I received a call early this week from AT&T that in August, my DSL line will be renewing at the $19.99 rate unless I contact them. This was unexpected because it was supposed to go to $39.99 when the term ran out. I guess they’re really afraid of losing their business to Cable and other services like Embarq.
    (However, the call got me wondering if they’re going to start offering the $14.99 to everyone who calls, so I’ll make the call and find out.)

    Comment by RS — June 17, 2007 @ 7:05 pm
  8. I have this type of plan with Verizon and another thing you have to look at in the fine print is the level of service. Mine says something about “up to” a certain speed of DSL service but I have never recorded that level of service from the Verizon speed test page.

    Comment by Trina — July 2, 2007 @ 7:50 am
  9. I went thru the same experience trying to get dsl for a girl friend in Hamburg NJ.. No where in the ad do they tell you it will be 34.95 per month not 24.95.. When I spoke to a rep for Embarq .. she got annoyed when I questioned the ad and hung up on me.. Very deceptive

    Comment by joe r — July 7, 2007 @ 11:29 am
  10. I’ve had the same problem with my cable and internet. I’m so sick of these hidden charges…

    Comment by Fiber Optic Cable Guy — September 2, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

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