Address.com appears to have everything a free ISP could need: a memorable domain name, nationwide access and a variety of additional services to add value to the overall customer experience. However, in spite of appearing to be capable of great things, Address.com's service is noted as being below par and even useless to some extent. It seems that the promises and the actual delivery are a fair distance apart in terms of quality.
Address.com offers a relatively comprehensive ISP service, at least by self declaration. Fast, reliable connections, thousands of access numbers and full availability throughout the US and Canada are just three of the features they claim are standard with their Premium Internet Access account. Alternatively, prospective customers are invited, or rather forced to take part in monthly offers if they decide to take up the ISP's Free Internet Access scheme.
The majority of Address.com's service is standard and truly have no competitive advantages. After all, it looks like there are more cheap ISPs than internet users at the moment, so there is probability of Address.com sinking into the crowd. Admittedly, their pricing seems fair and they offer everything the casual internet user could need: unmetered internet access, email and numerous access numbers, but Mac (let alone Linux) is not supported.
In terms of access provision, Address.com offers two separate schemes, both of which have already been mentioned. One is paid for directly with a credit card or bank draft, while the other is financed by the aforementioned forced offers. Subscribers are basically forced to `trial this' or `purchase that'.
Other services on the site are particularly underwhelming. There is a White Pages link that carries more advertising than the Superbowl, and is simply imbedded from InfoUSA.
Another stunning attribute is the amount of free software you receive with the Address.com installation. Spyware, adware, you name it, is included, with over a dozen separate programs that you simply do not want to have on your computer. The FBI watch over people's computer use with less software, so why is it of paramount importance to install what amounts to several megabytes of code simply to connect to the internet? The uninstall option is welcome relief, until you realize that it has succeeded in removing shortcuts and the add/remove software option. Everything else remains, meaning that if you have had the Address.com software on your machine at any point, chances are they still know what you're doing.
Admittedly, the site isn't all bad. The member area is a nice touch, offering those who sign up a degree of exclusivity.
The support page on Address.com is possibly the most detailed area of the site, something which is commendable.The staff make it clear that the support helpline is for Premium Service only, taking care to include the stark warning message in bold red: `FREE ISP and Email Users: PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE TOLL-FREE PREMIUM SERVICE HELP NUMBER! They can not help with our free services'. It is true that most free services do not offer extensive, if any support, but the 'PLEASE DO NOT CALL...' line seems to be somewhat unbusinesslike.
From a design perspective, small text and a generally shoddy layout mean that the support section is not a pleasure to use, but one where most users are likely to end up.
This article opened with `Address.com appears to have everything that a free ISP could need,' and it does. Unfortunately, perceived quality and actual quality are two different things.
The hosting page advertises an uptime guarantee of 99%. The connection availability for the ISP is nothing near this, with many users reporting a complete inability to connect, either through number busy or 'number not recognized' messages. Adress.com's spyware clogs your machine to a degree of it being unusable, and last I heard subscribers were gunning for the support team to be held up on charges for 'crimes against humanity' and rightly so. Restricted performance, annoying pop-ups and relentless emails are just some of the complaints.
As unbiased as this article is, it is difficult to build a counter argument. There is little positive to be said about the connectivity as it is inferior to almost all competitors. Support numbers can ring out for hours on end, and the PC running their software encounters the computing equivalent of a car wreck.