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Scary Terry

3:50 PM -- Here's a nice anecdote about how far Internet access prices have dropped and, if you like, how customer service has deteriorated right along with it.

A guy called Terry Burt from MCI phoned yesterday to say he wanted to come and pick up MCI's Cisco 2500 router. MCI had provided it for an Internet access service I discontinued more than six months ago. In fact, it was so long ago that I'd given up expecting anybody to retrieve it and had lent it to a Light Reading tech support guy.

Burt told me MCI would hit me with a big bill if I couldn't give it back. Luckily, I can (and will).

But, first, I should point out that the Internet service I discontinued provided me 64 kbit/s (yes, kbits!) of connectivity for $600 a month! And MCI tried, on several occasions, to double charge me for the service. Given that old Cisco 2500 routers are for sale on eBay for between $65 and $70 apiece, it's worth asking why MCI would bother going to so much trouble to retrieve it.

By the way, I stopped using MCI's $600-a-month service (complete with a managed router) when DSL arrived in my village, giving me a 15-fold increase in bandwidth at one tenth the price.

If such economics make you wonder whether MCI's Internet access business is working on all cylinders, consider that Terry Burt is chasing after $65 routers from a customer who stopped service six months ago.

I would point these things out to Mr. Burt, while sending back the router, but neither the phone number nor the email address he left for me works.

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading

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