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My Thoughts on Clear Internet (Clear.com)

Last month, I moved away from the place I’ve called home for the past decade. My new home is a small apartment behind the home of a family from church and my apartment doesn’t have its own postal address.

This causes a problem with Internet providers, it turns out. Since I don’t have my own address, the Internet providers can’t figure out what address to activate the Internet at, and so I’m a bit out of luck. Wire line DSL and cable Internet are both unavailable at the apartment.

I thought about trying to use a wifi router to connect from my apartment to my landlord’s house, but I really don’t want to bother them with my need for Internet.

Enter Clear…

A few days after moving in, it dawned on me that I could activate a 4G connection from Clear Internet. They offer a pretty good connection speed-wise, and they don’t have a bandwidth cap each month.

I stopped by my local Best Buy, grabbed a home wifi router for Clear, and brought it home. Within about 10 minutes, I had a real, live, high-speed Internet connection at my apartment. Woot!

A few days later, I added two portable hotspots to my plan (one for me and one for my parents to use with their iPad). The price was definitely right (about $85/mo for my house and two wireless hotspots).

I’ve found the coverage to be pretty good (although it’s a little spotty when I leave heavily populated metro areas, and it’s totally non-existent for the 6 hour drive I just took from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back). I get about 8MB download speed most of the time, the latency is good, and my connections stay alive very well.

Awesome!

Except for that darned return.

Last week, my parents called me and said their hotspot was flashing red instead of a solid green light. I told them they were probably in an area which Clear had no coverage. They insisted that they checked Clear’s map and it said they should be good, so I stopped by a few nights ago.

Sure enough, their personal hotspot device wasn’t working. I called Clear and got them to send us a new one. It was a pretty painless call, although it did take some time (about 30 minutes) to get through all the steps that the kind outsourced fellow made me go through.

It was good until today, that is.

I sat down at Starbucks to do a few hours of work this afternoon. In my normal routine, I plugged my Clear hotspot in and started to do some work. Except that I couldn’t get online. Instead, I was redirected to a Clear website which told me to call Clear since my account had trouble.

Uh oh.

The number they gave me was a phone tree, and I had to call a few times, trying different options on the menu each time, until I finally got through to a department that was actually open. They told me that my hotspot was marked as defective. Apparently, when I called last week to replace my parents’ hotspot, the customer service guy replaced my working hotspot, not their broken one. The lady today got that all squared away, but by then I was frustrated with the entire experience.

When I got off the phone with Clear, I realized that I was paying for my iPhone tethering plan on top of my Clear hotspot plan just so I could have 3G and 4G coverage. I also realized that I was frustrated with my experience of their technical support, and the fact that I’d get redirected to a Clear.com message page every week or two for no good reason, and it all came to a point today when I decided that I was just tired of them.

I know, they really didn’t do much wrong, and I made an emotional decision that I was over them, but that’s the way it is.

Today I went back to Verizon, re-activated my Mifi plan that I had canceled in order to get Clear, and I’ll be canceling my Clear hotspot plan tomorrow (once their billing department is open).

I’ll be keeping my apartment’s Clear router (since it seems to work pretty well, and I don’t really have any other options). And I’ll be keeping the hotspot for my parents since it’s the only 4G I can get for them and not be vulnerable to them hitting any sort of bandwidth caps.