KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Many people who live in rural areas of East Tennessee depend on digital subscriber lines for their internet service. An Anderson County man switched his DSL service to a less expensive service a few months ago. However, his bill was more than he was paying under his previous service.
John Chase believed he was going to save about $20 a month with his new service, but the invoice he received was far more than he had been paying under his old service. So, he called the company that provides the new service but he was told he must pay his bill first before anything is settled.
Chase watches TV through the internet. He lives in a rural area of Anderson County and has no cable connection. Currently, his digital subscriber line, a DSL hookup, is with AT&T. But late in the summer, a stranger stopped by and asked if he could put a sign up in John’s yard. No strings attached.
The sign was placed in his front yard, next to this bush. It said Fast Satellite Internet and included a phone number. Chase said he was curious about the “fast satellite internet” so he called the number and signed up.
“I thought I was talking to Hughes Net. The lady told me they would install unlimited internet service to my residence for $55 a month since I was a disabled veteran,” said Chase.
The day after that call he received a text message from Viasat. Chase called the number and was told the service was from Viasat, not Hughes Net. He was sent a contract from Viasat, his name was electronically signed. A satellite dish was installed on the roof of his house a few days later. Then a text came from Viasat, payment for his $96 bill was overdue.
“I was told I had to pay for a hundred megabytes of service every time the TV went out. In order to have it turned back on, I’d have to pay another $96. Then approximately eight or nine days later I got another text message telling me my payment had not been made and they had suspended my service,” said Chase.
He believed he had been tricked. So he called the service whose name was on the sign.
“When I called Hughes Network, they had no record of me. I said, well I have your sign here in my hand. They couldn’t give me any explanation, other than I wasn’t one of their customers,” said Chase.
The text messages from Viasat included a customer service number.
“They wouldn’t let me talk with a human being all I kept getting was a computer. I kept asking to talk to a representative and they would hang up,” said Chase.
So, he has boxed up Viasat’s modem and streaming box and is ready to return it. He is not paying any more money. WATE contacted Viasat. The company said, according to their logs, “Mr. Chase understood the different service plans including different speeds, data and prices.” Viasat said, “ensuring a positive experience for all of our customers is core to Viasat’s values and goals.”
Chase said only one thing will make him happy.
“I want this system removed from my house,” said Chase.
Viasat contacted WATE on Monday saying it has waived all charges for Chase. The company said it would also send a prepaid shipping box so he could return his Viasat equipment.
Chase said two different representatives from Viasat called him today. He said they were sorry and they apologized for any inconvenience that he experienced. He also received a call from Hughes Net on Monday after WATE Hughes last week. He said they also expressed their regrets about any confusion he experienced.