JUNO Review

Once, while teaching a group of teenagers I held up a $20 bill and asked, "Who want's this?" A few eager hands went up. "Julie, come and get it, it's yours." Well, Julie hesitated, looked around at her friends and giggled nervously.

"What's the catch?" She asked. "What do I have to do?" It took me 15 minutes to convince Julie to come take the $20 out of my hand. And even then, I think she thought she had to name her firstborn after me.

Free Internet. What's the catch? What do I have to do? There seems to be a big amount of scepticism surrounding the word "free" these days. Unless it's Aunt Bertha with a pack of "fat-FREE" cookies - watch out!

Founded in May 1995, Juno wasn't always free. The company charged for Internet Service up until December 1999. The idea was to have enough advertising to pay everybody up top, while making the common folk happy with one less bill to pay. What they got was a whole bunch of people with love/hate feelings for them.

I lived in a lot of apartments in my single days, and I learned a lot about the importance of having a good landlord. It never mattered how nice my apartment was, if my landlord wasn't happy or didn't do his job, my life was miserable. Once, I called my landlord and told him I had mice in my apartment. His response? A smug, "Well, there weren't any before you moved in, so you must have brought them with you." And when the toilet upstairs overflowed into my bedroom carpet, he came and sprayed disinfectant everywhere and said it'd be fine. I deny any knowledge of whoever may or may not have toilet papered his house the next night.

Choosing an ISP is much the same. No matter how great it seems, the real test comes when you have trouble, and need to contact customer service. With this in mind, let's look at Juno.

To contact Juno, you have two options: by email, or by phone. If you need to email them, and you only have the free service, your only option is to work with an auto responder. You pick on the category which closest describes your predicament, and you get an instant cute little email that tells you just about nothing.

In short, customer service at Juno has the moral equivalence of a slumlord.