Experience with Amnet cable firm leaves a lot to be desired

I would like to take this opportunity to express my unhappiness with Amnet. I have lived in Belen, Costa Rica, for 4 ½ years and my only choice in TV and Internet service here in Belen is Amnet. The poor service and signal delivery issues with Amnet have been well documented both here and in other publications with Amnet holding the proud distinction of having the most consumer complaints filed with the consumer protection bureau in 2011. But it seems that the services of Amnet have gotten consistently worse with time.

In my neighborhood in Belen we have experienced cable and Internet outages that have lasted from hours to four to five days.

One of my neighbors relayed a story that they signed up for Amnet Internet at the lowest connection speed of 1Mbps, but each month and without the customers permission, Amnet would charge them for a faster connection speed at a higher price. My neighbor was shocked to receive a bill for over $100 U.S. dollars for a service that they contracted for at $18.95.

My own personal experience is even worse. I have been a basic Amnet cable customer for years, but in January added the HDTV and Internet service. I chose the Amnet Internet service over RACSA because Amnet offers a feature called ESPN Play that allows an Amnet customer to stream live sports events like football and basketball over the web.

I also purchased the 2Mbps connection speed which both my computer consultant and Amnet told me was an acceptable speed for streaming sporting events.

I have had the upgraded services from Amnet for nearly 90 days. Here are the results from the first 90 days of the new service:

• Had to have the Amnet technical teams in my home eight times after initial installation. Tech teams replaced the HDTV box two times, replaced all the connections inside and outside of my home and the HDTV service comes and goes pretty much at will.

• Stations will disappear from minutes to hours to days in some cases. In order to even get volume on some stations, the customer has to make special adjustments to the setup for that particular station and then readjust the setup procedures in order to receive any other station (no more channel surfing).

• I have had Amnet technical teams in my home six times to deal with the Internet. I have not been able to stream one single sporting event on ESPN Play in the 90 days I have had the Amnet proprietary service without losing the signal or having the picture freeze every 5 seconds sometimes for seconds, sometimes for hours.

• I even stepped up my internet connection speed (at and added cost) from 2 to 3 Mbps and began plugging the ethernet cable directly into my computer (both suggestions from Amnet) to help the connection speed.

• Amnet even offers a speed test on its Web site that allows a customer to check the connection speed of the internet signal that they are receiving. I have done at least 200 speed tests of my connection from Amnet (these are logged on the sites history file) and only 14 percent of the 200 tests show a signal that is even half of the 3Mbps speed that I contract with and pay Amnet for.

Last night when the stream disappeared in the middle of the NCAA basketball game, I did a test and it showed that I was receiving a signal from Amnet of .68 Mbps and I contract and pay for 3.0 Mbps. A funny thing, the speed site grades each test and the score of the .68Mbps test vs. the 3.0 Mbps promised was an F+.

Customer Service:
• I have had an ongoing email conversation with Amnet about my problems. Currently my email string is 137 emails back and forth in 90 days. I have had limited success in obtaining some credits from Amnet due to the multitude of service issues, ( yes, I actually got money back from a semi-monopoly of Costa Rica).

Unfortunately, Amnet even fumbled this part of the problem when they cancelled my service for “non-payment” because the customer service director handling the credit did not communicate the credit to the A/R department and I lost all of my services for 3 days. Of course, I had to straighten out that nightmare, with no help or acknowledgement of fault on the part of Amnet.

The problem has gotten so bad that I contacted an attorney to see if I had cause for an action against a company that advertises services that they can not deliver. Unfortunately, after the attorney reviewed the standard Amnet contract that customers sign, buried in the fine print is a clause that states that all problems must be resolved via an arbitration proceeding at the chamber of commerce. Translated: The customer jumps through a bunch of hoops and Amnet gets a slap on the hand at best.

It is very frustrating to deal with a large organization like the cable or phone company, no matter what country one is in, but here, where a semi-monopoly controls all the available offerings, the individual seems to have no rights at all. A monopoly on any service offering should be treated as a privileged right by the holder and not a blank check to provide poor service and rip customers off. If your readership shares similar experiences with Amnet, I encourage them to take the time to file a complaint with the consumer protection bureau, the Dirección de Apoyo al Consumidor.

The offices are in Sabana Sur, 400 meters south of the Contraloría General de la República in the building of the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio. Phone number: (506) 2549-14-00.

The attorney suggested this option as the only real way for an individual customer to be heard. If enough people stand up, maybe just maybe the service will improve. We all know that just putting up with poor service guarantees more of the same.

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