By: Omar Metwally, MD
Objective: To illustrate ViaSat, Inc‘s predatory business practices and warn other potential victims.
Hi ViaSat. You stepped on me thinking I was a tiny ant, like all the other tiny ant customers you are stepping on. The truth is, I’m a barbed hook.
July 2020: The pandemic is striking with full force, and I am working 100-hour weeks volunteering in COVID-19 medical units overflowing with very sick patients while completing a Federally-funded research project. Fast forward to March 2022: the world is recovering from the pandemic, and I am getting harassed for the first time in my life by debt collectors trying to collect bogus debt on behalf of ViaSat, Inc.
During my last few months as Principal Investigator of Logisome, Inc’s Federally-funded research project, I signed up for a satellite internet service called ViaSat back in July 2020. The satellite dish was installed on the roof of my home, where I was conducting my responsibilities as PI and volunteering as an Internal Medicine Physician in overflowing COVID-19 medical units.
A technician arrived on Thursday, July 16th, 2020, and installed the satellite dish and equipment. I asked the technician to stay and make sure that the internet connection worked before leaving, but he insisted on leaving immediately. The internet speeds were initially so slow that it felt like a blast back to the 1990s. They were too slow to even load ViaSat’s homepage to look up their customer support phone number — and far too slow to conduct any sort of telemedicine.
I called ViaSat’s customer support in order to solve this internet speed problem and was on the line for nearly 2 hours after the installation trying to troubleshoot extremely slow speeds. The ViaSat technical support person remotely reset my modem, after which point I immediately and permanently lost all access to the internet.
After several hours waiting on hold, escalating emails to ViaSat’s management, and a complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau, they finally agreed to cancel service. I received written assurances that all fees in the contract had been waived and that my service was canceled. They sent me a UPS return label, and I sent back their equipment.
Now I’m receiving text messages from a debt collector saying that my ViaSat account has been sent to a debt collection agency called Halsted Financial. ViaSat did not send me any communications at any point claiming any debts owed to them. Here is one of numerous texts I’ve received from a party claiming to be a debt collector.
Why is the U.S. government (FCC) funding a predatory company that does not deliver what they promise, that wastes people’s resources, and that inflicts harm on hard-working individuals with better things to do than deal with bogus debt and the financial and legal damages resulting from these disreputable business practices? How is this company still in business???
ViaSat touts itself as a reliable internet solution for hospitals and the military. But if you can’t trust the company for submitting your kids’ online homework, why should ViaSat be trusted with people’s lives, health and safety? If you are considering signing up for ViaSat, chances are you live in a remote or undeveloped area in the United States. If you have any other choice of internet service provider, be assured that these alternatives are likely better options. If you have to decide between ViaSat and having no Internet connectivity, then be assured that you are probably better off without Internet.
ViaSat is not a legitimate company that earns a livelihood by selling useful services to customers. Rather, it is a shell of a company hiding the scam that it is: crooks that make money buy fooling people into contracts, breaking their own agreements, and inventing bogus debts so that debt collection agencies can do their dirty work. It is a disgraceful farce.
If you are one of countless victims of ViaSat’s fraudulent business practices, I urge you to call a lawyer and take legal action. A class action lawsuit is ripe for filing. Do not trust a company that lies to resolve BBB complaints, only to spin up bogus debts and send innocent people to debt collection agencies years later. Let’s use all legal means available to us to show this sham company that we are here to collect and make them shed what they owe.
Update on 3/14/2022:
Despite the fact that the service agreement (signed by Cody Catalena of ViaSat’s Global Business Solutions, excerpt above) was between ViaSat and Logisome, Inc, ViaSat is fraudulently attributing fictional debt to me as an individual. This was an agreement between two companies. At no point did I conduct business with ViaSat as an individual or enter any agreements with them as an individual. Yet despite these facts, they are damaging my personal credit.
To: Omar Metwally
Date of Correspondence: April 25th, 2022
This ticket (#5338127) has been updated.
Here is the response we received from your carrier.
FCC Consumer Complaints
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Government Affair Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington D.C. 20554 Response via FCC Electronic Response Program
Re: Omar Metwally, Complaint Ticket No. 5338127
To Whom It May Concern:
Thank you for bringing Mr. Metwally’s complaint to our attention.
The Customer Agreement, signed by Mr. Omar Metwally on July 16, 2020, advises that customers are responsible for returning Viasat’s modem and transceiver within 30 days after disconnection. Failure to do so will result in an unreturned equipment fee of $300.00, not including taxes. Viasat supplies customers with a UPS box, prepaid return shipping label, and illustrated instructions within a week after disconnection.
On August 20, 2020 a bill of $159.00 for an unreturned transceiver generated. No payment was processed resulting in a past due balance.
Mr. Metwally contacted Viasat inquiring about his bill on September 7, 2020. A Viasat Business representative advised Mr. Metwally we had not received his transceiver.
On September 8, 2020, Mr. Metwally’s account was sent to collections due to its past due balance. As Mr. Metwally’s name was the one on the Customer Agreement, it was his contact information that was used in order to deliver the notice of collections.
As a resolution to Mr. Metwally’s complaint, Viasat has waived his unreturned transceiver fees as of March 22, 2022. Please note it can take the collection agency a minimum of 30 days to update their records, Viasat is unable to expedite this process.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
Viasat Satellite Service
Consumer Affairs Department
CC: Omar Metwally
From: Omar Metwally
Date: May 24th, 2022
Please keep this ticket open, as ViaSat has once again failed to keep its word. I received another collection letter in the mail today, attached.
Furthermore, please note that ViaSat’s response on 4/25/2022 states that “customers are responsible for returning Viasat’s modem and transceiver within 30 days after disconnection.” This statement is inconsistent with ViaSat employee John V’s email dated 07-30-2022, which refers to a “VoIP phone” and “routerboard” but has no mention of a transceiver. ViaSat provides contradictory and inconsistent instructions to customers, and they obviously don’t know what equipment they want returned.
ALL REQUESTED EQUIPMENT WAS ALREADY RETURNED ON TIME.
ViaSat are liars and criminals. Please hold them accountable for their predatory business practices and make them stop terrorizing innocent, hard-working people.
Omar Metwally, MD
Let it be known to all humans, past, present, and future, that ViaSat are liars, criminals, and terrorists.
Updated 3 August 2022:
SHA256 checksum: a19581e72b2f2399aca14486d14c0e260ffda39d684dc5f9df04eaa4619d425c