If you like your Internet service provider to have intermittent blackouts, terrible customer service and even worse infrastructure, you would be excited to learn there is a company that operates in Blacksburg that does exactly that. That company is none other than Access Media 3.
AM3 provides Internet to a large portion of off-campus housing sites in Blacksburg. This is, in part, due to contracts that they have signed with property managers and leasing agencies that either charge a hefty fee for residents to change ISPs, or completely prohibit residents from changing ISPs.
This situation creates, what my friend Julianne Arnold called, “an Internet purgatory,” a situation where we as customers are stuck with only one ISP to choose from.
This situation would not be so bad if AM3 were able to provide any level of customer service.
My roommate and I had a bad experience with AM3, and I have heard countless horror stories from students who are or have been in similar or even worse situations than my roommate and I were in. This begs the question: Why? Why does AM3 have such poor customer service?
Monopoly. And no, unfortunately I’m not talking about the board game. AM3 has a monopoly on Internet service in some areas of Blacksburg.
AM3 does not care that their customer service is virtually nonexistent because they don’t need to. They know they are not going to lose any of their customers to competitors because there are no competitors!
Competition forces companies to innovate, to provide better goods and services than their competitors to attract more customers and make as much profit as possible. Companies like Microsoft, Sony, Google, McDonalds, Nike, and Toyota, among many others, have to constantly strive to provide better goods and better services than their rival companies.
If they don’t, they lose money, which these companies do not want to do, so they keep improving their products. Competition breeds innovation, growth and development, and without it, companies like AM3 are allowed to exist.
The most effective way to communicate with any business is with money. If there were another ISP to choose from, we would be able to show AM3 that if they want our money, they are going to have to provide better service than the other company.
This would mean AM3 would have to either shut down because they lost too much money or improve the quality of their service, but unfortunately, this not the case. Instead, AM3 is able to hold us hostage, taking our money every month.
With the knowledge that they have a monopoly, AM3 are allowed to do whatever they want because they have little to no chance of being stopped. My friend was right when she called Blacksburg “Internet Purgatory” because we’re going to be stuck in this situation for the foreseeable future. The only way out of the situation is for the monopoly to end.