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Why Do ISPs Lie To Their Customers?

I have a fairly turbulent history with Telkom and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in South Africa. I know as customers we expect a lot. And it is difficult with the competition in the industry for ISPs to undercut one another. But why do they need to lie?

Why are customers upset?

Well it is all about managing expectations. If you over promise and under deliver, you piss off people. There is also the elephant in the room, Telkom. Telkom has such a bad reputation ISPs often get away with providing a shitty service by saying that it is a problem on “Telkom’s side.”

Lets have a look at some examples.

Afrihost started out really well. The customer came first and they were open and transparent when they had issues. I was their biggest supporter and got all of my friends and family to sign up. Then they became evil inc. and put their billing and profits ahead of everything else. A colleague of mine has been having issues with Afrihost. High latency and low speeds. For months they have been blaming Telkom and he gets Telkom out and they find nothing wrong. He tries a different ISPs account and he suddenly has full speed again. So it would appear that Afrihost throttles their capped accounts or just doesn’t buy enough bandwidth for all their customers. This is not an isolated problem. You hear this same story over and over again. So why does Afrihost just not buy enough bandwidth for their customers? Money.

VOX Telecom also started out well. I got 1TB free data with my Samsung Smart TV. I went to the ends of the earth to get that package activated but they seemed like they were trying hard, and hey, it was free! Besides them claiming that my data was unshaped but it showing up in my admin panel as “less than best effort” it performed well. Their prices were good so I migrated my line to them and it was less than smooth. Their service centre is a mess. You can’t contact the same person twice. They don’t reply to emails. I think they out sourced support to the kids who took the short bus to school. I got so sick and tired of VOX I’d actually call Telkom for support and they would fix it before VOX even replied to my email. I’m trying to cancel my month-to-month service with them and they said to me over the phone that it would be cancelled immediately. I just got an email saying it will actually be cancelled from JULY. So much for month-to-month. Eat shit VOX.

RSAWEB provides fibre internet to a place where I use the internet fairly often. Their international bandwidth is so shitty (2mbps on a 30mbps fibre connection) you are better off with ADSL. (Actual tests I did myself constantly saw a 4mbps home ADSL connection out performing RSAWEB business fibre on international bandwidth) This is meant to be a guaranteed service with a speed and uptime SLA. When the problem is reported they send a very technical explanation about concurrent TCP/IP connections. (Thanks for that!) Unfortunately that doesn’t relate to this problem. Nice try pet. I’m sure most people will buy that excuse. Not me.

TelkomSA is the ISP branch of Telkom. Funny, I’ve never had a problem with them. Weird. Downright fucking strange.

So why all the lying? I know this isn’t a South African problem. I spend enough time on Twitter to see my American friends bitching and moaning about Comcast, Version and TWC. I honestly think it is because they can get away with it. Because WE don’t hold them accountable they never have to change. They just bill us and bully us into staying with them with fake month-to-month contracts and threats.

I personally admire the guy who didn’t get his money back from WebAfrica and reported them to the ASA for false advertising. He won by the way. They refunded his money and have to remove the message saying they offer a money back guarantee.

So don’t let your ISP tie you down to a 24 month contract. Don’t let them give you shitty service and shitty speeds. Drop their asses. Move to the new guy on the block (whoever that is at the time) and make them work their butts off to give you good internet. Then ditch them when they start wavering. Loyalty is nothing when it comes to business. Your ISP stops working for you when you stop paying. So why carry on paying when it isn’t working for you?

If you have any (awesome in hindsight) stories about your ISP troubles, leave them in the comments below.



  1. Totally agree! Can I ask about the RSAWeb connection? How many people are using that connection and do they limit bandwidth to each user so that 1 person does not steal all 30Mb?

    • About 30 people are using it. All the tests I did where when no one else was in the office. They don’t think they are limiting individual connections. The slow international speeds appear to be shared too!

  2. Kk cool. Just from experience in the IT industry we would usually limit speed per person when it comes to fibre connections and even using ADSL connections when it’s shared amoung a lot of people. If each of those people got the same speeds while they were all using the connection, then it probably is limited. It’s very hard to run true tests without taking many many factors into consideration, but I totally know what you are saying. ISPs do lie A LOT!

  3. Thank you!!! I Love this article – as true today as it was last year when you wrote it.
    Apologetic in Upbringing South Africans find it ssSSOOoo hard to complain … also because Users are not “In the know” and so they have to trust service providers to be honest … Roar with Laughter! … or educate themselves about the service they pay for … Fall off your chair laughing! We are too busy trying to make our lives work and expect Service Providers to be just that – Service Providers. At least – on the positive side – hopefully it inspires us to improve the services we render and to be honest about our shortcomings.

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