As an internet service provider that's been in the internet solutions business for over two decades now, we know a thing or two about the types of contracts behemoth providers like to offer their clients. Lengthy wording, hard to follow language, and "guarantees" that aren't really guarantees have become so commonplace that signing a contract for service can seem like signing your life away. While a long, wordy, hard to understand contract isn't necessarily a harbinger for bad service, we think it's fair for our clients to expect service contracts that make sense and clearly define what it is they're getting.
Here's some things to look for the next time you ink a contract with a new ISP!
Transparency is important.
This one might seem obvious, but trust us-- you'd be surprised at the number of disgruntled business owners that make the switch to our service after believing they were getting one thing and paying for something else entirely with their previous service provider. Suffice to say that in a field where transparency should be key, it's often not. In your internet service contract, look for terms that clearly detail what it is you'll be receiving in terms of service, speeds, and maintenance. It's important to scan for terminology that could be disadvantageous to you, too-- like clauses giving the provider the right to throttle speeds or network connectivity in specific situations. Most ISP's won't come out and tell you the ugly stuff, so if you decide to go with them anyway, it pays to know what you're getting into as early as possible!
Look for simplicity.
In some cases, your internet service provider may provide you with the full extent of the service you'll be receiving from them-- but it's apt to be jumbled up in really wordy terminology that's hard to decipher. Look for providers with contracts that are simple-- detailing what you'll get, what you'll pay, and any additional terms of the agreement, without all of the fluff. With a clear and easy to understand contract, it's easier for you to make sure you're getting what you're paying for-- and harder for that ISP to pull the wool over your eyes. If your contract is hard to understand, ask for a clear explanation of terms from customer service before agreeing to it. Once you're locked in, you'll quite likely be on the hook for the duration of the agreement, so there's no shame in getting the full scoop beforehand.
When deciding to enter into a service contract with a provider, it's important to look for clauses that illustrate the length of the term and any options you may have for extending or ending it. Many contracts may have fees for early termination, or incentives for staying on board for a longer length of time. If you've decided that that particular ISP is right for you, consider what staying in contract could mean for your business in the long term. Does the ISP offer cutting-edge technology and support? Do their prices constantly fluctuate (or will they?) Are they a large, stable company that you're confident will be around for a while, or a smaller startup that can provide personalized service for years to come? Considering the answers to these questions can help you make a much more informed decision about executing the contract or not.
Choosing the right internet service provider doesn't have to be hard, and contracts don't have to be a burden. By looking for the right things in your next ISP contract, you can be confident you're making a decision that will benefit you and your company for years to come!