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June 2, 2012 » 2:56 pm

An Ode to Sonic.net’s Customer Service

Several years ago, I was voicing my ongoing frustration with AT&T to my friend, Jason. Jason recommended that I look into Sonic.net. I did some research, and made the switch soon thereafter.

Overall, I’ve been satisfied, although I haven’t been thrilled by the speed or the uptime. Uptime is critical for someone who works from home and hosts a lot of teleconferences. While I haven’t had any major outages (unlike AT&T), I’ve had several intermittent outages, some at inopportune times. I know that some of this is out of Sonic.net’s control, but that doesn’t make me any happier when I lose my Internet access while making a presentation. I’ve also had multiple modems fail, including another one this morning. Recently, I’ve been pondering a switch to cable.

What’s prevented me from making the switch has been Sonic.net’s incredible service. It’s a joy to talk to their customer service people. I always get a human being who isn’t reading from a script, who doesn’t patronize me, who goes out of his or her way to solve my problem, and who is friendly and knowledgable. It reminds me of the good ol’ days fifteen years ago when most ISPs were mom-and-pop shops where everyone knew what they were talking about.

This morning, I woke up to discover that my DSL modem had failed, which was super annoying, considering I was planning on working all weekend. I looked up the customer service number on my phone and saw that the call wait was over 30 minutes. On the one hand, that made me grumpy. On the other hand, it was cool to be able to know the wait time before I even called.

So I called, waited a few minutes, and then was given the option to leave a call-back number. Why doesn’t everyone do this?! I left my number, ate a leisurely breakfast, and relaxed. Someone from Sonic.net called back about 45 minutes later. I explained what had happened, he saw that I still had 15 days left on my warranty, and said he’d send out a new modem right away.

I asked how long it would take, and he said two to three business days. Again, that made me grumpy. It meant that I would not have Internet access until Tuesday at the earliest. I expressed my annoyance and asked if there was anything else he could do. He thought for a second, asked me to hold, then said I could swing by the office in Santa Rosa to pick it up myself.

Santa Rosa is over an hour’s drive from San Francisco. It would not be convenient. But, it was better than not having Internet for five days. Plus, there are many worse things you can do than take the beautiful drive up to Santa Rosa in a sunny Saturday afternoon.

So I drove up and met the guy at the Sonic.net offices. He gave me my new modem and asked whether I was heading straight back. I said that I thought I’d find a coffee shop somewhere and camp out for a while. He suggested I go to Flying Goat Coffee nearby. And so here I am, at Flying Goat Coffee (which was an excellent recommendation), sitting outside enjoying the wonderful weather.

I woke up this morning frustrated about my modem. Replacing it was going to be inconvenient no matter what, but if I was going to be inconvenienced, this was the way to do it. It’s yet another reminder of what a difference great customer service makes.

I love the fact that, even on a weekend, I’m going to get someone good and friendly on the phone who will take care of me. I love the fact that, even when the call queue is long, I won’t have to wait on the line, because there’s a callback service. I love how, when I mention Sonic.net on Twitter, the company’s CEO, Dane Jasper, often responds. I wish I had better uptime and faster speeds, but I’ll take the great customer service any day of the week.

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2 Responses to “An Ode to Sonic.net’s Customer Service”

  1. I too have made the switch from Comcast to Sonic after a friend of mine told me how he is able to upload all his video to JustinTV, when I mentioned a cap being on Comcast. I was shocked that there was an unlimited internet provider left, and jumped on it. 3 modems later (One didnt work, so I thought. Another randomly died on me, and the third is humming along), one change from Dynamic to Static IP, and many calls to Customer Service just for my own piece of mind to understand how DSL works and what I can do so I dont ever have to call in (surprisingly a lot of downtime is easy to turn into uptime)… I couldnt be pleased more. Unless of course Dane and his crew brought Fiber to my house.

  2. I loved Sonic. I switched away because I couldn't get reliable connectivity, but that's not their fault – our wiring is bad, and the runs out to the CO are far longer than the geographic distance. AT&T didn't even try to hook us up. So I switched to Astound, which is a cheesy name for a cable company, but they're trying to live up to it. In my head I think of them as the "Sonic of Cable". Again, there are things about the service that aren't ideal (but fortunately, I don't care about TV so a lot of those are mitigated) but the customer service has been good – which, compared to the 'piss poor' rating I'd give AT&T or Comcast, is a huge difference.

    Still and all, if I get a chance to switch back to Sonic (by moving, say), I'll probably do it.

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