Alan Sbi is fed up with his broadband satellite internet system often having problems every time he wants to use the Zoom application to meet online, broadcast livestream video at his home. So in February 2021, Sbi, who lives in the mountains of North Carolina, paid a $100 deposit for a set of SpaceX Starlink satellite links.
But since he paid the deposit, he hasn’t heard from Elon Musk’s satellite internet company and hasn’t received his set of internet links. And to make matters worse, Starlink just raised the price of its products across the board – even for customers still waiting to receive their hardware.
In March, SpaceX told its customers it was raising product prices because of inflation, among other reasons. The price of a Starlink internet connection kit has increased from 500 USD to 550 USD for customers who have deposited, and from 500 USD to 600 USD for new customers. The monthly Starlink subscription cost also increased from $99 to $110 for all users.
At the end of March 2022, Sbi requested a refund of his Starlink suite deposit due to inflated prices. But the process has been consistently plagued by regulations and procedures.
“I feel like I have been scammed by Starlink”, Sbi said. “This is unfair business. The company has taken my money for over a year, I need to return it, there shouldn’t be any conditions on how I get my money back.”
Sbi isn’t the only customer frustrated with Starlink’s delays, price increases, and apparent lack of customer care.
Rich Kecher, who lives in southern Virginia, said he had a hard time getting his Starlink deposit after about a year. His reasoning was about an “outrageous lack of communication” from Starlink, as the company pushed back its scheduled start date of operations in the region from November 2021 to the end of 2022.
Kecher says: “The price increase is the last straw.”
After ordering Starlink in April 2021, Denise Elise said she received two emails from Starlink. One email confirmed the payment, the other about the price increase.
She said: “I don’t want to cancel my order because I live in a rural area and need an internet connection. I really want to try this.” However, she said she was not satisfied that Starlink raised the price before she received the kit, adding that Elon Musk is “make money from our money.”
Elise said Starlink has not responded to any of her emails.
Tim Nash, of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, received his Starlink kit in February 2022. A month later, he is still affected by the price hike of the Starlink service.
Despite paying more than he initially expected, Nash says Starlink is “well worth it” – but complains about customer service that is “virtually non-existent.”
If your Internet is not working, how do you get help?”, Nash said. “This model is weird.”
Lluc Palerm, an analyst at Northern Sky Research, said Starlink customers have reason to be angry when affected by price increases for products they have not yet received. He said Starlink has “don’t put resources into customer services so it’s only natural that you get complaints like that.”
“They’re a startup, and their main focus right now is on satellite systems and development, so it’s not surprising that their customers get little support,” he said. Paler said.
He also suggested that the Starlink terminals are in fact worth much more than their inflated cost, as the industry is calculating the value of each terminal should be around $2,000. .
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.