In a complaint filed in Los Angeles state court, Patricia Allen of Santa Monica says that a Verizon sales rep talked her into switching from a $24.99 to a $34.99 DSL plan that was supposed to deliver internet at the speed of 1.5 Mb per second.
Allen claims, however, that her connection only ever reached half that speed and that when she complained to Verizon, a technician told her faster speeds were impossible because she lived two miles from a Verizon service center. She adds that a rep told her to downgrade because her line could only accept speeds of up to to 768k per second.
The way DSL service works, customers who live too far away from the central office of the telco face diminishing speeds as the noise on the copper lines that provide the service increases with distance. Thus, customers who live closer can get the top speeds advertised, while those a few streets away will find themselves surfing along at speeds reminiscent of the late 90s.
Allen also says the company refused to issue a refund.
Allen is suing Verizon on behalf of “all persons and entities in California who are located a certain distance” from a Verizon office.” The lawsuit is based on breach of contract and California consumer protection laws.
“We believe the lawsuit is baseless and without merit,” said Verizon spokesman Rich Young.
The fight over advertised speeds and actual speeds is an issue that’s gaining ground as users spend more time online, and are attempting to use services that require faster speeds. You can’t watch Netflix at 768k, or even conduct a good Skype video chat. The FCC is investigating the disparity as well, and has sent out routers to hundred of customers that report back on broadband speeds and conditions to the agency.
This is the second time this month that Verizon has found itself in hot water over its DSL service. Last week, the company caused a stir by saying that new subscribers will have to purchase an old-fashioned land line if they want access to Verizon’s DSL connection.
Here’s a copy of the lawsuit: