I once waited for more than four hours and 26 minutes for a call back from my ‘service’ provider to fix a technical glitch that rendered my internet as good as dead. Sound familiar?

Turns out I’m not alone (surprise!). Consumer NZ surveyed 8,500 Kiwi internet users in February this year and found 65 percent experienced lengthy waits. That helpless feeling at the hands of an internet provider – the only ones with the power to fix the bug, or broken line, or whatever - so your business, milking shed live feed, school, tv programme or social media search can continue can be frustrating, money and time wasting and can potentially put lives at risk.

It’s an irony alright, that the very componentry giving you so much potential and freedom, chains you to a provider that brings all that to a grinding halt if you’re kept waiting, or their customer service staff lack the right skills.

With all this in mind, it may come as a surprise to find that Consumer NZs February survey found 60 percent of respondents had been with the same provider for five years or more. The primary reason found for not switching was the difficulty in comparing providers. The good news is, that’s getting easier. You don’t and shouldn’t have to put up with poor service. Most operators will offer deals outside of fixed terms so you won’t get stung if you make the move. Some of them offer sweeteners, and may even absorb the break fee if you are locked into a contract.

There are dozens of smaller providers out there who will often go the extra mile to keep your connection robust. You’ll need to do your homework on providers’ coverage zones, and their pricing and plans of course, but don’t overlook asking them for data on their average customer response times and any customer satisfaction surveys they may have.

Wireless Nation, a Kiwi-owned internet provider specialising in rural broadband reports the following customer wait times: new customer enquiries: 40 seconds; customer support: one minute 11 seconds; account enquiries: 26 seconds. Enough said.

Back to that gold nugget – independence, here’s something good: Wireless Nation have just designed a bespoke wireless system for the NZ Motorhome and Campervan Association whereby all 65,000 odd members can have wireless internet on the road, within coverage zones, 24/7.

One user of the new wifi campervan service said ‘it has completely revolutionised my life.’ Mr C drives the length of the country offering survey and pre-purchase inspection work for rural and marine industries. ‘Signal strength is great! Now I get to do all my work and not worry about anything’.

Mrs H says ‘after selling their house and starting to live full-time in the motorhome, it’s great to be able to stay in touch with family and friends and do internet banking.’

This is a good example of how a smaller company, with some good number eight wire thinking, can provide a solution that brings huge benefits.

So if you value independence more than irony and you’re all out of patience with your current provider, don’t hang around with it. Check out some of the many providers out there, and make sure one of the first things you ask when selecting a new one, is their customer satisfaction record.

-  Written by Penny Hartill, communications advisor to Wireless Nation