For the vast majority of consumers, choosing or changing Internet service provider (ISP) is a haphazard decision, according to a recent report.
Market research company Inteco found that most consumers' choice of an ISP was not a well researched decision. The top three factors affecting home Internet subscribers' choice were free trial disks, followed by magazines and word of mouth.
Despite many opting for free trials, a large number of consumers had experienced or heard about problems with cancelling the subscription at the end of the trial period. Others were dubious about giving out their credit card details.
Although free trials stood out as the easiest route to an ISP, consumers actually thought their value was minimal in comparison to reliability of service and overall subscription price. They were also convinced their subscriptions were being used for extravagant marketing campaigns and consequently quality of service suffered.
Well known names were important for the less technically competent consumers, but confident Net surfers did not have a problem with switching to a non-brand ISP if it offered services that catered to their particular needs.
The ?Internet churners?, those who had changed their home ISP, had primarily switched because of negative experiences - mainly slow access, engaged lines and poor helpdesks.
Inteco found, however, that there was an astonishing inertia among consumers in the face of poor service. The vast majority opted to stick with the ISP they had, even if there were problems, basically because they thought all ISPs were essentially the same and changing accounts was a ?big hassle?.
Supermarkets, like Tesco, becoming ISPs met with positive responses. Though some said that an email address ending in @tesco.net was "a bit naff", consumers had an expectation that the service would be good value for money and reliable.
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