Elon Musk’s Starlink still doesn’t seem to respond to basic customer support emails

of not so innovative department

We’ve noted for some time now that Elon Musk’s Starlink low-orbit satellite broadband service won’t have the impact that many think. For one, the service can currently only provide service to a maximum of around 800,000 subscribers. worldwide. For context, approximately 20-40 million people in the United States do not have broadband and 83 million live under a broadband monopoly (usually Comcast).

Even if everything works perfectly, we are talking about a service that will only make a very small dent in a very big problem. And Starlink, as a company, doesn’t work perfectly.

Lack of capacity (along with some supply chain issues) has severely limited overall subscriber numbers, forcing most Starlink users onto a waiting list that for many can last over a year. . Many users on said waiting list have tried to get refunds after a recent series of price hikes on a service they have yet to receive, only to find a company that simply can’t or won’t. will not respond to customer support and refund requests. :

At the end of March 2022, Sbi requested a refund of its Starlink deposit due to price increases – but struggled to get its money back because he can’t get his hands on the business.

“I feel like I was scammed by Starlink,” Sbi said. “These are not fair trade practices. The company has had my money for over a year, I need this money, there should be no strings attached on how to receive my money.

This kind of problem is not particularly uncommon with Tesla or Tesla solar either (horror stories involving installations of the latter are legend). All three efforts are widely praised for innovation, but can’t meet extremely basic consumer requests for support. Raising prices for Starlink customers already stuck in order purgatory proved the last straw for many:

Rich Kecher in southern Virginia said he struggled to get his Starlink deposit refunded after about a year. He told Insider of an “outrageous lack of communication” from Starlink, which had pushed back its planned start date for the service in its region from November 2021 to late 2022.

“The price increase was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Kecher said.

To be clear, Starlink provides an amazing upgrade for users in unserved areas. But that’s assuming you can get it and afford it. A major problem in broadband access gaps in the United States is affordability, and a service with a price of $710 in the first month will be out of reach for many. many others who can affording it will likely find themselves squeezed out by Musk’s cronies who see Starlink ownership as a status symbol.

Although Musk can be touted as an innovator, he’s not particularly innovative when it comes to customer service. Nor is it capable of overcoming the laws of physics on its own. Starlink’s capacity constraints are likely to result in many more stories like this. And that’s not going to be helped with Starlink beginning to partner with major airlines despite its inability to meet existing pre-order demand.

Eventually, to deal with this lack of capacity, I imagine the service will implement networking tricks that further annoy users, whether it’s limiting high definition and 4K video, or even limiting use and overload.

Even the hype-prone Musk has repeatedly acknowledged that Starlink will have limited impact and may not be financially viable in the long term. The low-orbit satellite broadband space is scarred with the wreckage of similar efforts, which is why many have bristled at the $886 million in grants awarded to the company by the Trump FCC.

Most experts believe that if you’re going to subsidize broadband, it makes sense to spend that money on future-proofing fiber and then filling in the nooks and crannies with 5G and wireless. fixed. Starlink can help a little, but its innovation is severely crippled if users can’t get it, can’t afford it, and can’t get the company to answer an email or pick up the phone.

Filed Under: broadband, customer service, digital divide, elon musk, broadband internet, satellite, space, starlink, telecom

Companies: spacex, starlink

Joseph P. Harris