Subtitle this: Setting up new Internet service shouldn't be this difficult.

People with home offices just get no respect from their internet service providers (ISPs).

Here's my tale of woe.

I moved last week, which meant my home office got moved too.

I've used a cable modem happily for almost eight years. When I originally set up that account back in 2000, DSL was more expensive and had a reputation of frequent technical difficulties. I took a pass and never regretted it.

However with my new home office, the phone outlet was closer than the existing cable outlet. I have many friends and colleagues who are happy with DSL. What the heck, I said. Let's give it a try.

Big mistake.

I won't mention names (I don't kiss and tell), but I called a telco that offers DSL service in my new 'hood, set up an account and was told I would get a self-installation kit within a few business days by mail. No problem. I did all of this a week before my move date.

A week came and went and the kit didn't arrive. I moved last week and was frankly too busy those first few days to even think about going online. Thursday came and no kit in the mail. Oops! That was a problem. I needed to blog on Friday.

I called the telco that was to be my DSL provider. While on hold for over 30 minutes waiting to talk to a human being, I called my local cable company on my cell phone and asked how long it would take to get me online. I was told it could happen that day. I just needed to drive over to their nearby offices and pick up a modem.

By the time the DSL folk stopped the elevator music and picked up, I asked for the supervisor. I explained the situation. She said they'd lost all records of my account request (although they processed the order for a home phone line in that same phone conversation more than ten days ago). She apologized and said it would take A WEEK to get me online.

I told her my cable company could do it that day and I actually believed them since they had, so far, kept their promises of delivering prompt new services when they installed my cable television earlier in the week.

I then asked if she were me, what would she do? She had to agree, she'd go with the cable modem and couldn't compete with their timing to get me up and running.

How sad! How pathetic!

She did not offer to rush a self-installation kit overnight via FedEx. She did not offer a few months of free service to make up for the wasted time. She offered nothing, except a polite apology and wished me well with my cable modem service.

Walkaway points I'd like to make from this cautionary tale of loss and redemption:

- In this day and age, any internet service provider that takes a whole week to activate a new account needs to stop being an internet service provider and stop torturing would-be customers.
- In any day and age, any company that so willingly lets a potential customer go to a competitor admitting that can't match their service should hang their head low and fire whoever supervises all the account managers.

The debate over cable broadband versus DSL broadband high speed connections continues to rage, especially for home offices and smaller businesses. Cable companies traditionally have focused more on residential customers and left businesses to DSL and T-1 lines, etc. However, over the past year or so, they've become more aggressive of going after the biz crowd.

Which is better? Which is faster? Which is cheaper? Which is more reliable? These are the factors weighed and debated over and over again.

What I've learned is this. Forget who's faster or cheaper. Who has a local office with a human face that has to talk directly to your human face and earn your business? It is easy to dole out bad customer service by phone. It's a little trickier doing it in person.

Your local cable company may actually be a huge cable operator like Comcast or Charter, but there's a store front in your area with a fleet of technician vans out back. They are organized to mobilize and send out a live body to the homes and offices of customers on a dime. They also have a public lobby with human reps manning the front desk.

You can't say that about most DSL providers.

Big difference. Think about it.