ISP, ViaSat, accused of shady business practices (PT:1)

Editorial Note: This article is not intended to act as legal advice. It is purely based on the research of “War on Corruption, LLC,” to bring awareness to a situation that seems to be rampant within the ViaSat corporation.

The internet age has allowed us to communicate on a global scale. Through the internet, we are able to call, video chat, and even conduct business that would otherwise be impossible. But, as with all things, it has a dark side to it. Just as honest people have found an avenue for discussion, socializing, and so fourth, this remains true for those who are not so honest. But what happens when the dishonesty comes from the very company who has provided you this global access? That’s the question that has lead to this article.

Viasat is a global internet company. Through the use of satellite technology, they provide the same service as any other ISP. However, unlike what you find with most ISP’s, the amount of complaints against this one is alarming. From misrepresentation, shady business tactics, and a lot of the in-between,  Worst yet, every business review site, including the BBB, reflect this.

Though its rating varies from site to site, we’re going to look at the BBB. According to the site, Viasat has a rating 1.04 out of 5. For a company that prides itself on providing internet service, this score is extremely low. Upon looking into the reviews, however, it quickly become apparent as to why.

The main nature of my complaint is the willful misrepresentation on the part of their sales personnel at the time we were investigating switching to a satellite provider. As with so many, we live in a rural area and had endured unusable DSL for years from ******** **************. We needed something better. We knew that ViaSat was not going to be perfect, but we were discussing going from a monthly fee of $78/mo for intensely unreliable service to $179/mo for service described as ‘variable once our data cap had been reached’. We GRILLED the salesperson as to what that meant, because what we had been enduring were speeds between 0.1 and 1.0 mbps. Anything under 0.8 and our internet becomes unusable and believe me I have learned a lot of tricks; everything from extensions that play videos only once they are fully buffered to tab suspenders to features on my gaming computer that allow the entire resources of my computer to be used only for one browser tab. We were ASSURED up, down and sideways that it would never, ever be worse than 5mbps at the very, very worst. With this fear assuaged, we signed up. So once again last night our data cap ran out (we pay for the highest tier; we cannot purchase more data and we have tried) and at 7pm I was confronted with a Zoom meeting and a 0.2 mbps connection. When I contacted customer service the next day to tell them that this was unacceptable and that they needed to do something, she figuratively threw up her hands and could only say ‘this is how ViaSat works.’ I told her that this apparently translated to their sales personnel lying as much as necessary to sign people up and then abdicating all responsibility once their customers were stuck in contracts. I gained the sense this was hardly the first time she had heard this. I would not mind being slowed down. I mind having totally unusable Internet as I am sure almost everyone here does. I mind even more that I was bait and switched; I don’t like liars. What this company does would be illegal in Washington state. I wish I lived there and I hope the day comes when their ‘business plan’ dries up because **** **** and ******** put them out of business. When that service comes online, I will be out the door faster than you can say ‘speed test.’

The above comment is one of the most common ones that we’ve found, in regards to the shady business tactics. The fact that their sales representatives knowingly and willfully provide false information to potential customers, falls into the category of “misrepresentation.” Misrepresentation, in the legal sense,  is defined as: Getting into a contract with a person or a company on false grounds by making statements that are not in accordance with the facts.

What this means is that if the company misrepresents itself, its provided services, or information pertaining to the contract, that contract can be classified as void. All the consumer would have to do is prove it. Sadly for Viasat, there are hundreds of reviews that establish the claim of deceit against potential customers. But Viasat is accused of doing more than misrepresenting their service and plans. In at least one instance, they tricked a potential customer into signing a contract. A contract that they were completely unaware of until they attempted to cancel the service.

In response to a callout that we did, via Twitter and Facebook, one of their current customers sent us the following statement:

I have been with Viasat for a little over a year. During this time, I have never once gotten decent service. In fact, even when my service renewed, it still registered that I had used more data than what I was allotted. After months of dealing with this, I decided today was enough; I attempted to terminate my service. Now, before I continue, I need to backtrack. When I first signed up, I paid, as shown in the image provided, the entire equipment lease charge. I did this under the impression that by doing so, I would not be under a contract and that I would own the equipment. So, back to my termination attempt.

They tell me that I am under contract and that I do not own the equipment. I explain what I was told on the phone, only to get into an escalated conversation with the representative. I end up putting my service on a hibernation, which means they’re still going to take money out of my account. The company lied to me about being in a contract, they lied to me about the service quality, and now they’re trying to dupe me out of more money. This can’t be legal, is it?

Well, let’s go ahead and answer this one. No, it is not legal. In fact, with a good attorney, you might be able to make a fraud claim. Fraud is defined as: wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. Clearly, by informing you that you were not in a contract, when you were, they defrauded you. They defrauded you because they knew that if you attempted to cancel the service, you would be liable to pay an ETF for the remaining contractual months; this is where the personal gain comes in.

We’re still deep diving into this company. Because of the large number of complaints, we simply cannot cover it all in one article, there will be a PT: 2 in the near future. This company demonstrates the “why” people need to conduct a through investigation into any company to which they intend to conduct business. It’s unfortunate that so many people have learned this, after the fact. However, we’re going to do our part in preventing this from happening to other consumers.

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