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The Quest to Find Good Internet Service in Guadalajara

Updated: Apr 3

During our first six months in Guadalajara living in Airbnbs, owners took care of basic utilities and internet service. So when we finally landed a place of our own and needed to get connected, we felt like fish out of water.


Choosing a provider. We're a household of two internet users who frequently have 4-5 devices connected at a time, and regularly stream music. Because we use the home internet for work, we were looking for quality tech and very reliable service.


Having limited familiarity with the major internet providers in Mexico, we initially asked the previous owners of our house which service they'd used. They'd had Telcel, but weren't exactly enthusiastic about it, saying simply "It's okay, nothing special."


Next, we took an informal poll of our new neighbors via their WhatsApp group. The majority recommended Izzi, which we'd never heard of.


So I did some quick research and read some exceptionally bad reviews for its poor customer service and lack of reliability.


Finally, I thought back to ALL the Airbnbs we'd stayed in around Guadalajara and recalled that we'd mostly used Megacable -- and rarely suffered outages.


Provider #1: Megacable


We walked down to Plaza Patria shopping center the following Monday morning to visit the Megacable store. We discussed our needs with a sales agent and were told they were running a promotion. Then we reiterated our need for a quick installation due to work obligations.


The agent prepared a contract offering us service for $450 pesos per month for 50 Mbps internet and a cable TV package, which sounded stupid cheap. Our sales agreement stated the price was valid for 12 months. Megacable said could have a tech install service in 2-3 days. At the time of signing, we were also asked to provide a credit card number.


Five days after signing the service agreement, we'd still had no visits by Megacable techs. We were calling nonstop to get a tech scheduled and were seriously considering going to another provider, despite having signed what we thought was a binding contract.


Later that afternoon, a Megacable tech arrived to install our cable and internet service. Ladders were erected (damaging one of our walls). Holes were drilled. Wires were passed, and a modem was connected. The work took hours, but the service eventually came online.


During installation, the Megacable tech also managed to sever a cable for our home security system, disabling our cameras, intercom system, and doorbell. This cost us about $1,500 pesos to repair.


We started using Megacable, and noticed the internet speed fell short of what we'd paid for. There was also no usable signal on the first floor of our house. We had periodic unexplained service outages (it wasn't rainy season yet). The DVR didn't work remotely as advertised.


We spent significant time on the phone with Megacable's customer support, complaining to English-speaking and Spanish-speaking agents, depending on who was available. Customer support always came back with the same response... We cannot help to resolve your issue, but we will send out another tech.


We wasted more time waiting for techs to show, because we never received a time for their visits. They would simply show up whenever was convenient for them.


It was funny but not funny to hear each Megacable tech who came out berate the work of the previous tech. In all, I think we had eight tech visits by Megacable. They continually tinkered with the setup, but the service speed never reached the level we'd paid for.


Our first Megacable bill arrived and I noticed we were billed more for internet service than the price in our service agreement. Our agreement had a monthly fee of $450 pesos and the first bill came in for $682 pesos, more than 50% higher!?


I headed down to the Megacable store to protest the overcharge. The woman we'd signed up with no longer worked there, so I spoke to another agent, showing the discrepancy between the service agreement and the billed amount.


When I demanded to know why we were being overcharged, the employee made up a story about how the monthly price in our agreement was valid only if we paid our bill with the credit card we'd signed up with (an impossibility because Megacable wouldn't accept foreign credit cards).


I threatened to report the company's overcharges to PROFECO (Mexico's consumer watchdog agency) and the employee just laughed at me.


The following month my husband Joe blew a gasket when our new Megacable bill was $700 pesos. This time we noticed a fee for mobile service we'd never signed up for. I dug up the previous month's bill and confirmed that the mobile charge had been there as well, and somehow we'd missed it. There was also a fee for Amazon Prime, which we'd never ordered.


This prompted yet another visit to the store. Fortunately, Joe went this time. He argued about being charged for mobile service we'd never asked for and couldn't use since we had no hardware.


The employee insisted he'd received a SIM card when we signed up for service, which he hadn't. Joe demanded to be refunded for the mobile service we'd never ordered or used, and they refused. Only after more yelling did they agree to take the charge off of future bills.


Whatever issue we had, Megacable's customer-facing team did nothing but lie and deflect. They simply wouldn't -- or couldn't -- remedy problems.


As a former customer of Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon up north, I thought I'd seen it all. But I had to hand it to Megacable -- this is next-level corporate malfeasance.


No credits were ever issued to our account for downtime or the fraudulent addition of services we'd never ordered. Refunding consumers is apparently not a "thing" in Mexico, unless a PROFECO investigation legally compels a company to do it.


Our third Megacable bill arrived in March with a balance due of only $580 pesos. While it was still an overcharge compared to our sales agreement, it was less than the previous two months, because the mobile line and Amazon Prime charges were now gone.


Nevertheless, we were fed up with Megacable's scammy antics. I started asking around again, and this time found more locals recommending Totalplay.


Provider #2: Totalplay

A few months ago we got around to giving Totalplay a try. We decided to install the new service before dropping Megacable to ensure that we had no downtime while we kicked the tires.


As an aside, if you plan to work remotely from Mexico and must constantly be online, it's wise to figure out a "Plan B" when your internet goes down (because it will). In our case, we can either walk to a coffee shop two blocks from our house or visit our sports club, which has lots of available workspace.


Regarding Totalplay, the first thing we noticed was how quickly their techs came to install the service. Unlike the 5-day wait for Megacable, Totalplay's team was anxious to get onsite within 24 hours of my order. And though it took the tech half the day, we were up and running in one visit.

With Totalplay we decided to increase our internet speed to 80 Mbps, and have found that it delivers. We still have some signal issues in certain parts of our house, and plan to install a booster.


The only thing we've noticed that's truly pitiful with Totalplay is digital account management. Both the website and mobile app have usability problems and security flaws that render them useless.


I'm unable to log in to our Totalplay account via the website because it fails to recognize my (valid) login credentials and there's no way to reset them. On the app, our account "can't be found" after two-factor authentication with the email and phone number associated with the account.


Moreover, reviews of the latest version of the TotalPlay app in the Apple store describe a bizarre security issue. A Totalplay customer reported using his credentials to log in with the app and was served another customer's account information, revealing their personal data to him. When this customer called Totalplay to report it, the support team's response was "no puede ser" (it can't be). I immediately uninstalled the Totalplay app on my phone.


Despite their digital problems, we're far more satisfied with Totalplay's product performance compared to Megacable, and have yet to suffer an outage in the 2.5 months since installation, which included some violent storms during the rainy season.


DVR functionality is still problematic, with replays limited to a 48-hour look-back period. If we attempt to record programs in advance, it fails.


We're also paying more for Totalplay compared to Mega, but the lack of scams has been refreshing. I did hear one horror story from an expat in Guadalajara who had a Kafka-esque experience trying to cancel his Totalplay service. As with so much in Mexico, your mileage may vary.


PROFECO Lawsuit


Incidentally, while researching this story I discovered that Megacable was top dog for consumer complaints to PROFECO last year. After seeing a big uptick in complaints, PROFECO filed a class-action lawsuit against the company on behalf of 4 million disgruntled customers.


Complaints cited in the lawsuit include frequent and prolonged service outages, disagreements about charges, and a refusal to reimburse customers for service not received. All sadly familiar to me. Let's hope some hefty fines come of it, and the company makes changes in the way it does business. (a person can dream)


While none of the internet providers here in Mexico is perfect, I'd recommend Totalplay over Megacable without hesitation.


And even though we're no longer receiving Megacable service and returned their hardware a few weeks back (when a tech made a surprise visit to our house to collect it), they continue sending us monthly bills via email, which I happily delete.


 

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