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Plea to AOLers: Don't Sign Up With Us!

By Captain_Tenille in MLP
Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:48:36 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

There's an interesting link to the sign up page of flex.com, an ISP in Hawaii that caters to experienced computer users. Basically, it tells AOLers not to bother signing up with their service, because "We are incompatible with your computer system as screwed-up by AOL configuration software and You." It also asks people who are "computer newbies" to please sign up with someone else, so no one's time gets wasted and there won't be any hard feelings.

Is this a good thing? As more and more people sign up for AOL's services and flood the Internet, should more companies take this approach? Would you sign up for a service that won't waste your time trying to hold your hand that also bluntly tells people that can't use their computers by themselves to shove off?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Would you sign up with these guys?
o Yeah! 17%
o No, it insults my sensibilities. 7%
o I am so l337, I tap out TCP packets with my teeth! No ISP for me! 12%
o I would, but I don't live in Hawaii. 46%
o Huh? This "Internet" you speak of...? 3%
o Mail complaints to: Inoshiro@aol.com 12%

Votes: 95
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o sign up page
o flex.com
o Also by Captain_Tenille

Display: Sort:
Plea to AOLers: Don't Sign Up With Us! | 23 comments (23 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
this is different than installing linux, how? (4.12 / 8) (#1)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:11:24 PM EST

Would you sign up for a service that won't waste your time trying to hold your hand that also bluntly tells people that can't use their computers by themselves to shove off?

Well, things aren't as bad as they used to be. Many modern distributions pick up a lot more than they used to during installation. But given the majority of responses to clueless people attempting to install Linux and going to usenet for help, I don't see how this is a whole lot different.

Oh, and the perl newsgroups treat clueless folks even worse.

exactly (2.50 / 4) (#9)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:35:24 PM EST

...which is why I don't run Linux anymore, rarely use Perl, and am not going to become this ISP's customer. =P

[ Parent ]
See? It works (3.50 / 4) (#12)
by fluffy grue on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:44:50 PM EST

Since you're not part of their target audience, you're not going to sign up for their services. Sounds like they were successful in implementing their policy.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

elitists (3.33 / 3) (#16)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:10:01 PM EST

Hmm, I'd consider myself fairly technically competent. I've certainly never called an ISP's tech support number. The main reason I'd avoid them is that I don't like these sorts of attitudes. "I AM T00 L33T F0R J00 A0L F4GG0TZ" is not something I want to hear my ISP shouting.

Plus it looks like this ISP is less than technically competent themselves. Their solution to "problems with dial-up users from Maui?" "If you're in Maui don't buy our service." Great.

No tech support for user-type problems is fine, but there should be a way of contacting someone when the problem is on the ISP's end.

[ Parent ]

it's cost effective (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by jovlinger on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:34:00 PM EST

One of the biggest costs for an ISP is tech support. I think.

Newbies use more of it that old-hats. Think about it; what with equipment, health insurance, taxes, I'm sure that the cost-per-call to tech support is probably in the $20 range -- enough to wipe out any profit the ISP would have made from that customer that month.

So if the ISP can discourage newbies in favor of techies (who will assume that the tech support person will be geared to their required level of support), then everyone is happy.

'Tisn't elitist, just plain 'ol economics.

[ Parent ]

aol (2.50 / 2) (#18)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:08:50 PM EST

Of course AOL has one of the biggest tech support burdens of any ISP and is also the most profitable ISP, so tech support can pay for itself and more. People are willing to shell out $22/month for an expectation of support.

[ Parent ]
subscriber fees aren't AOL's only revenue (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 10:41:14 AM EST

Given that this podunk Hawaiian ISP probably doesn't do extensive profiling of its clients to sell to other companies, doesn't run multiple ads in every conceivable format every time its clients connect to the service, and doesn't habitually spam its own customers, it likely only has subscriber fees to earn a profit from.

If you think that AOL could offer as much hand-holding as they and still make as much profit as they do simply from subscriber fees, you're off your rocker.

[ Parent ]
Dialup from Maui might be a Phone Company problem. (3.33 / 3) (#20)
by MechanicalEngineer on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:49:47 PM EST

Plus it looks like this ISP is less than technically competent themselves. Their solution to "problems with dial-up users from Maui?" "If you're in Maui don't buy our service." Great.
When I saw the warning about Maui service I assumed that the problem was with phone service in that area. Bad phone lines lead to poor Net connections. If the problem is something that they can't fix quickly, or that they have to lobby the lovely phone company to fix, they are being responsible in notifying customers and potential customers of the problems which exist.


Want to know what it's like to start work at a big company as a recent college grad? I'm tracking my experiences in my diary.
[ Parent ]

This is great (3.85 / 7) (#2)
by Flavio on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:16:46 PM EST

I once wanted to move to Hawaii just to be this ISP's client :)

Some companies has a similar policy even though they don't scream it at potential customers. Flex.com's coolness lies on the fact they have no tech support and a minimal staff. I don't even think they have employees. Everything in the ISP is automated and the user's on his own.

My dad's ISP has an nice option which gives you a discount by removing any rights for tech support. If you ever need tech support you have to pay extra.

My ISP, on the other hand, is the opposite. When I made the mistake of signing up for their ADSL plan I was even offered a technician to come to my house free of charge and install everything, including the hardware. I didn't like the offer precisely because it was "free".


CYA (3.50 / 6) (#3)
by ism on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:19:07 PM EST

I had seen this ISP before some time ago and thought it ingenious. It's an example of CYA - cover your ass. The ISP assumes no responsibility on technical problems, thus cutting down on tech support costs. I just hope they don't abuse this policy when the problem is on their end.

For some people, this ISP would be a cost-effective solution. It would be for me, if I was still using dialup. There is a much more limited market, so I don't expect too many ISPs to follow suit. However, I can see some ISPs offering simlar plans - with tech support as an additional service. Many software companies already do this, although the cost of software hasn't exactly gone down.

Is this for real??? (4.28 / 7) (#4)
by GreenCrackBaby on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:20:19 PM EST

I can't believe these statements!

"Remember, FlexNet does not have a technical support department."

"As a general rule, America Online users are not computer savvy or it seems, capable of the level of technical sophistication necessary to operate a computer outside of an AOL environment.

"We don't have the time to baby or pamper you."

"We are having massive problems with our Modem Dialups on the island of MAUI. Do NOT sign up if you are on MAUI, or are planning to access our system mainly from MAUI. You have been warned!"

Since I almost belong to their target market ("experienced" internet user but don't live in Hawaii...yet), I've gotta say the wording of that statement bothers me to no end. While I understand what they are trying to do (cut costs by cutting support department), and why they are targetting experienced users, the wording of that thing made no sense to me. It essentially says to me, "We can't be bothered to worry about your problems. Sign up with us and we'll grab your money, but don't ever expect us to answer our phones. We'd like to make you feel a valued customer, but why bother lying to you"

The "no refund" thing is also amazing (and I think illegal?). What if those problems that they are having with people living in Maui start happening to others. Too bad...no refund.

Truly amazing.

Yay! How 'bout this!? :-) (2.20 / 5) (#5)
by MeanGene on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:25:09 PM EST

Experienced Internet users should be familiar with Unix directory structure, the concept of home directories, ftp'ing files back and forth, the concepts of file permissions and stuffs like that.

We don't run Microsoft stuffs (like FrontPage, IIS or Access) and never will.

[ Parent ]
we are too l33t for j00! (1.75 / 4) (#8)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:33:49 PM EST

Yeah that statement seems a bit odd.

"We expect you to know what you're doing so we have no tech support people, but on the other hand we don't know wtf we're doing so modem dial-ups from Maui don't work. And since we're too busy waving UNIX flags everywhere to fix it just don't bother signing up if you live in Maui."

[ Parent ]

Out of context (4.00 / 4) (#13)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:44:52 PM EST

Scroll down to the bottom of this page. They do seem to have good tech support (and a page on network outages, which most places don't), just not of the basic variety. They apparently want to keep to their side of the bargain.

Remember, here at Kuro5hin, newbies get flamed just as badly, except there is an entire community doing it. ;)

[ Parent ]
Seen it before. (4.14 / 7) (#6)
by Seumas on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:31:46 PM EST

In the Portland area, Computer-Bits magazine used to carry an advertisement from an ISP that called themselves "expert friendly". Sounds good -- no newbies and no idiots. Unfortunately, it also usually means no technical support. Even experts need someone to be responsive when it's the ISP at blame (servers hosed, configurations wrong, provided you the wrong information on sign-up, etc.)

I just read K5 for the articles.

Another Example: DynDNS (3.50 / 6) (#7)
by recursive on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:33:16 PM EST

DynDNS does basically the same:
We are a no-nonsense Dynamic DNS provider. Our goal is to provide a technical user base with a reliable and simple service. [. In the past we have had to deal with a large customer base that largely didn't understand what Dynamic DNS was or how it worked. We want to avoid a return to that situation. This is not a service for everyone.
The message is clear: if you don't undertstand this, this service is probably not for you.

-- My other car is a cdr.

Tropical shirts & a bad attitude. (3.71 / 7) (#10)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:35:24 PM EST

Well, this would have interesting implications: It is possible to target intelligent/experienced locals and still do very well. A case study of using automation to reduce the human overheads slower corporations need.

Funny thing is, last year I met someone who was doing pretty well in Hawai'i doing webdesign contracts for an ISP (I don't recall which). Must be one killer market there.

Hmm, interesting... (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:54:28 PM EST

I'm in the process of reading they emails. At this link under #8, the admin mentions that they make no income locally, with their dialup access. Apparently they do consulting; and I get the impression my friend worked with Lavanet instead of with them.

[ Parent ]
Awesome! (4.40 / 5) (#11)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 02:43:35 PM EST

Yes, I would definitely use this service, if it was cheaper. Some may see it as a bad attitude. I see it as humility: they know they can't help you and they aren't blunt about saying so.

Actually, I already DO use a similar service. They aren't quite so raw about it, but fastdial.net charges me only $8.50/mo. When I signed up it explicitly said that they kept costs down by not providing much technical support and supplying NONE over the phone (except in absolute emergencies). I must say that I've found their service nearly flawless (the only real problem is that I can't get NNTP service--news on the web only).

Play 囲碁
What I'd like to see... (4.40 / 5) (#15)
by eventi on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 03:17:12 PM EST

How about a service that would listen to you when you tell them what's wrong:

TECH: Thank's for calling blahblah.com, how can I help you?

ME: I'm getting a "Cannot process From lines" error, can you chop the first line off my spool file?

TECH[typing]: vi /var/spool/mail/eventi^MddZZ
TECH: OK, that should do it.

ME: thanks<click>

Skip all the BS

How to remove the AOL "evil connectoid" (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by pin0cchio on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 07:41:49 AM EST

If you decide to add or use another dialin configuration after agreeing to let AOL to do this to you, your only hope is to reinstall Windows.

It doesn't have to be that drastic, thank Gosh. I used to be a regular on the newsgroup alt.aol-sucks, where we came up with this method to get rid of the AOL 5 "evil connectoid" on Windows 9x systems:

  • Remove the AOL client software using its uninstaller.
  • The uninstaller may leave behind an "AOL Adapter" in Dial-Up Networking. Remove it.
  • In Add/Remove Programs, uninstall Dial-Up Networking, restart the computer, and reinstall DUN.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for the advertising! (3.00 / 4) (#21)
by Pseudonym on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 08:57:29 PM EST

I'm serious. Thanks. Our family is moving to Hawaii in about a year's time and we were wondering where we could get good broadband service.

Thanks for the advertising. They've just got another customer.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Plea to AOLers: Don't Sign Up With Us! | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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