How to Score a Refund From Your Terrible Internet Service Provider in 12 Emotionally Complicated Steps

1) Decide after months of mind-numbingly slow Internet that it may be worth it to upgrade to the slightly faster version.

2) Call your Internet Service Provider to learn that the slightly faster version is only $6 more a month! Make a bunch of salty snacks in anticipation of getting to stream season three of Breaking Bad without random jumps and pauses in the connection.

3) Three weeks later, when your bill comes and it is $38 higher than expected, get disproportionally angry and call your Terrible Internet Service Provider in a huff.

4) Two and a half hours, and three transfers into your call, verify your account number for the fourth time and confirm your “favorite singer” to a tired-sounding woman in Indianapolis. When she pulls up your overcharged account she will exclaim, “Well this can’t be right!” Agree. She will make keyboard clicking sounds and tell you to expect a refund on your next billing cycle. Believe her if you like. 

5) When the next bill comes, repeat step four, this time, with a fast-talking man in Philadelphia. Tersely explain your problem. Verify your account number. He will pull up your last two bills and exclaim, “This can’t be right!” in the same incredulous tone as the woman in Indianapolis. Agree. Attempt to extort an immediate solution from him with what you think of as your signature blend of “firm charm.” Fail. Demand to speak to “a higher up.” Fail. Warily believe him when he tells you to really expect a refund on your next billing cycle.

6) During the next three still-$38-higher-than-they-should-be cycles, up your calling regimen to twice a month, tag-teaming with your husband in a version of good cop/bad cop in which he plays the “Personable Southerner” and you play the “Aggrieved Harpy”. Verify your goddamn account number. Use your mean voice. Use your “unacceptable” voice. Threaten to cancel, knowing full well that they’re the only high-speed Internet provider in your pocket neighborhood. Know that they know this too. Use your pleading voice. Begin to see your failure to obtain this refund as a reflection of your general insignificance in the world.

7) Have a revelation. Search out your Terrible Internet Service Provider’s Twitter handle.

8) Tweet at them.

9) Receive an immediate reply.

10) Six minutes later, answer your phone to a serene, beautiful sounding woman named “Kate.” She’ll ask you how your day has been in a voice that will make you feel like the two of you have spent the last five months together in a tropical hideaway. Is that a waterfall in the background? Kate already has your account number. Kate just needs to confirm the name of your favorite singer. She will compliment you on your music taste. Then she will refund your five months of built-up overcharges with the customer service equivalent of a toss of her luscious brown hair. She will ask if there is anything more she can do to help and she will give you her personal line at the company headquarters. She will wish you a great rest of your day.

11) Ten minutes later, after you find the refund sitting placidly in your account, come up with a really snarky tweet about the power of public complaining,

12) But find that you just can’t bring yourself to do that to Kate.


Annie Nilsson’s Internet is still slow, but that doesn’t stop her from Blogging and Tweeting. Photo: Flickr/NeilsPhotography


35 Comments / Post A Comment

oh step 10 made me laugh so hard i started crying. or was it cry so hard I started laughing? one of those.

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@redheaded&crazy I banged my head against the wall so hard I started laughing. But that might have been from the concussion…

(also: hi from Hairpinland! I’m paperbuttons there)

jane lane (#281)

I really don’t understand why cursing at the cable company on twitter seems to be the only way to get things done.

@jane lane It must be something about public shaming slash potential PR fiasco.

@jane lane publicity. No one’s listening in on your phone call to them, but the whole world can see what you Tweeted about them. Hooray for public shaming; the only way to put the power back into the hands of the customer.

RosemaryF (#345)

You’re referring to U-Verse, right? Because except for the twitter part, this is my life with those a-holes.

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@RosemaryF Tweet at them. They are demon spawn. Except Kate, of course.

@RosemaryF U-Verse? What’s that? I thought for sure this was directed at Comcast. Guess that goes to show that one ISP is as bad as another. No hope.

elizabeast (#629)

In all seriousness, I’ve solved all of my office’s Verizon issues via Twitter. It’s 100 times faster and easier than calling them.

Comcast, however, is a different story. I think they quit twitter?

riggssm (#297)

@elizabeast I’ve wondered if they haven’t myself lately. Though, to be fair, my tweets at them are generally a stream curses.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@elizabeast I’ve found Verizon so incompetent that I literally cannot even get them to provide me with service when I offer to pay them money (this has happened twice), and I STILL think Comcast is a worse company to deal with. Telling them to shove it was one of the most satisfying moments in the history of my consumer-driven life.

elizabeast (#629)

@MuffyStJohn I don’t really have much of an opinion about Verizon, but I’ve always assumed we get preferential treatment for being a business and not a residential account. However, when I deal with them via twitter, they don’t always know I’m working with a business account right off the bat.

I’ve never had the problems with Comcast that other people have. Their prices are god awful, but the only real issue I’ve had is a service tech showed up late once.

Maladydee (#909)

@MuffyStJohn @MuffyStJohn the problem with Comcast is they have a bunch of crappy infrastructure in some places, and good infrastructure in others, becuse of having bought it up over time from other companies who may not have kept it up before getting bought out, and they cover such a wide area – they are too big in some ways. So some areas are legit terrible for service, and some areas are not, but each region has its own policies and budget so when texas is doing fine it’s not like their profits get shuffled over to Louisiana to fix their lines after hurricaine season. Also the companies they outsource to don’t have a lot of resources to get the job done when things get fucked up, so if for example your tech is a no-show, when you phone them, you may reach an outsourced call centre that doesn’t have any way of actually reaching their dispatchers to tell them. (Ok, that only happened once…. that I know of….)

nf (#949)

Reading this made me so mad. Is there a reason not to name the company in a post like this?

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@nf Well, most providers tend to behave this way I think, but in this case it was AT&T U-Verse, who seem to be just a little bit nastier than the other guys. This was actually one of the least terrible issues I’ve had with them. Avoid if at all possible.

nf (#949)

@AnnieNilsson Yeah–I’m sorry, my comment came off kind of harsh–I get that the specific provider isn’t the point of the piece and they all act like this, but at the same time I feel like if they aren’t named they’re Getting Away With It.

This works with UPS, too. Breaking into tears at the UPS pickup depot because they reject the ID that expired a week ago, the only one you have? Nothing. A five-second tweet? Instant redelivery of packages to a new address.

fierce_pierce (#950)

I went through this same thing with Comcast. If anyone ever needs the Director of The Mid-Atlantic Customer Service Division’s direct line, email and mother’s maiden name – as well as that of his wonderfully helpful assistant – hit me up. The Mean Voice combined with the Charming Voice combined with Twitter can be AMAZINGLY productive.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@fierce_pierce You. I think I like you. Keeping this in mind…just in case.

sox (#246)

I’ve held off this long on joining the twitterverse, but lately I’ve been wondering if I oughta just hop on that train and this post has pushed me very swiftly toward the YES end of the spectrum.
Cellular and internet providers are THE WORST.

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@sox Yeah, Twitter’s a weird thing, but it has its uses.

@sox I feel the same. Been avoiding Twitter like the plague, but if this is the only way to acheive a resolution to customer service problems, then so be it. (Ironic that we need the internet to get a resolution from our Internet service providers. Hmmm.)

Is it Beyoncé? I bet it’s Beyoncé.

e (#734)

Back in the day before twitter I had a very bad IKEA experience. It involved driving two hours to the store for furniture twice, and not getting the furniture, despite using the site to check that it was in stock before we left, then coming home with a bed frame with two left bed posts. At which point I insisted to customer service that there was no way on earth I’d drive back there to pick up my part- that they should ship me the right bed post for free, given the time and lots of money I’d spent. I’d worked my way up 3 supervisory levels, I would call with my case number and the names of all the people I’d talked to, when in my desperation I got on the internet and found their press office. I called those guys up and said, “I sometimes write for my school newspaper, and I’m thinking of doing a piece about the bad experience I’ve had- anyone want to comment?”

Well… I was in class that day, and my phone just started buzzing and buzzing and buzzing. They shipped me the leg, and a spare, and they overnighted it.

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@e That was so industrious of you! Bravo.

But man, those worthless “case numbers” they give you? Somehow that just puts me over the edge.

allreb (#502)

Man, all I’ve ever been able to accomplish by tweeting at Time Warner is for them to DM me the customer service number, which I had already called twice.

My favorite singer is account number! D’oh! I mean Meatloaf. My favorite singer is Meatloaf. Can I get that refund now?

Your favorite singer and food should not be the same thing.

AnnieNilsson (#406)

My fave: is Cinnabon Iver

Al Greeneggas&ham

@AnnieNilsson Macaroon 5?

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@Jared Fowler@twitter James Brownie

yankeepeach (#276)

Bank.Of.(Friggin)America on Twitter. Seriously. There was once an epic error (Theirs. So Totally Theirs) that threatened to derail my entire financial house of cards. In sheer desperation I tweeted BO(F)A and the problem was solved within a week and at their expense — they sent pre-labeled FedEX envelopes to mail documentation in. This was a few years ago, so I can’t say if they still have top notch Twitter service or if they abandoned ship like Comcast did. Also, I am now with a credit union. (Once bitten, etc. etc.)

Ah, but what’s your Klout score?

(Seriously, though, this whole “you get reasonable customer service if and only if you use Twitter” is utterly classist and horrible.)

3jane (#645)

Right after this was posted, I opened up my nearly $300 cable/internet bill (I added cable last month).

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