'Scammed by Starlink': Customers are frustrated with price hikes for uplink kits they still haven't received months after paying $100 deposits

Advertisement
'Scammed by Starlink': Customers are frustrated with price hikes for uplink kits they still haven't received months after paying $100 deposits
Elon Musk's SpaceX raised Starlink prices for all customers in March.Nina Lyashonok/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME
  • Starlink customers told Insider they're frustrated with the price hikes announced in March.
  • Two said they'd had trouble getting their $100 deposits returned for uplink kits they haven't received.
Advertisement

Alan Sbi was fed up with his satellite broadband provider because Zoom meetings, live-streaming, and other basic internet services just wouldn't work. So in February 2021, Sbi, who lives in the mountains of North Carolina, paid a $100 deposit for a SpaceX Starlink uplink kit.

Sbi told Insider that since then, he'd heard nothing from Elon Musk's satellite internet company, and hadn't received his uplink kit. And to make matters worse, Starlink has just raised its prices across the board – even for customers still waiting to receive their hardware.

In March, SpaceX told its customers it was raising prices because of inflation, among other things. The price of a Starlink uplink kit rose from $500 to $550 for customers that had already paid a deposit, and from $500 to $600 for new customers. The monthly Starlink subscription cost climbed from $99 to $110 for all users.

Complimentary Tech Event
Discover the future of SaaS in India
The 6-part video series will capture the vision of Indian SaaS leaders and highlight the potential for the sector in the decades to come.25th Aug, 2022 Starts at 04:00 PM (40 mins)Register Now
Our Speakers
Dan Sheeran
Sandeep Gupta

At the end of March 2022, Sbi requested a refund of his Starlink deposit because of the price hikes – but has had trouble getting his money back because he can't get hold of the company.

"I feel I was scammed by Starlink," Sbi said. "This is not fair business practices. The company had my money for over a year, I need that money back, there shouldn't be any conditions on how to receive my money back."

Advertisement

Sbi isn't the only customer frustrated with Starlink's delays, price hikes, and apparent lack of customer service.

Rich Kecher, in south Virginia, said he'd had trouble getting his Starlink deposit refunded after about a year. He told Insider of an "outrageous lack of communication" from Starlink, which had pushed back its expected start-date for service in his area from November 2021 to late-2022.

"The price increase was the final straw," Kecher said.

After ordering Starlink in April 2021, Denise Elise said she received two emails from Starlink — one a payment confirmation, the other about the price hike.

She told Insider: "I don't want to cancel my order because I live in a rural area and need some kind of internet. I really want to try this." However, she said she was unhappy Starlink had increased prices before she'd received her uplink kit, adding that Musk was "making money on our money."

Advertisement

Elise said Starlink hadn't responded to any of her emails.

Tim Nash, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, received his Starlink kit in February 2022. One month later, he was hit by the Starlink service price hike.

Despite paying more than he initially expected, Nash said Starlink was "well worth it" – but complained of customer service that was "nearly non-existent."

"If your internet isn't working, how do you get help?" Nash said. "Weird model."

Lluc Palerm, an analyst at Northern Sky Research, said Starlink customers hit by price rises for products they hadn't yet received "obviously" had "something to get angry about." He said Starlink was "not putting resources into customer services so it's natural that you get those kind of complaints."

Advertisement

Palerm said: "They are a startup, and their main focus now is on the constellation and development, so it's not surprising that their customers have recieved very little support."

He suggested Starlink terminals were in fact worth much more than even their inflated cost, with the industry putting each terminal's value at around $2,000.

Insider verified the four Starlink customers' complaints about the company through proof of purchase emails and correspondence they sent to SpaceX.

SpaceX didn't respond to Insider's request for comment.

{{}}