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It’s a sad reflection of our expectations as consumers that we’re actually surprised when we receive good service or encounter a truly outstanding product. Take the Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi for example. On Thursday when I’d pretty much finished writing the review, I was trying to decide whether it deserved nine or 10 out of 10. Lars and I sat there scratching our heads trying to think of something that was wrong with the machine in order for it not to get the full complement and an Editor’s Choice award. In the end we both decided that Acer really did have every box ticked and the machine really did deserve the top award.

It must be a sign of the times that we seem to almost expect poor service as consumers, so much so that we’re shocked when we’re treated well. I mention this because I recently found myself pleasantly surprised at the service I received when trying to set up all my kit at home.

Last month I moved house and as such had to say goodbye to my lovely 8Mbit ADSL connection. Unfortunately, being that I’m now living in a small village in Surrey, 8Mbit broadband wasn’t on the menu and 2Mbit was the best on offer. Now, there’s no shortage of ISPs to choose from these days and while I was trying to decide who to sign up with an interesting press release landed in my inbox.

As reported here, Eclipse Internet recently announced a free month’s trial to anyone. Now, this isn’t a “sign up for a year and get the first month free” kind of offer that we’ve seen many times before, what Eclipse was offering was a chance to try out the service for a month with no obligation – if you didn’t want to carry on after that month, you just walked away, owing the company nothing.

A little investigation into Eclipse revealed that the free trial wasn’t the only innovative trick up the company’s sleeve. Eclipse offers broadband packages called “Flex” which allow the user to increase the bandwidth at will for a minimal charge. So, if you feel that a bog standard 512Kbps is fine for you most of the time, but you occasionally need to download large files quickly, you can “Flex” your bandwidth up to 2Mbit for a cost of 10p per hour. Also, unlike many of the ISPs these days, all of the Eclipse Flex packages offer unlimited monthly usage allowance.

Deciding to give Eclipse a go, I signed up online for connection at my new home. After finishing the registration process I was able to track my order via the website, and this really impressed me. What I was presented with was a step by step breakdown of the activation process. As my order progressed through each step I was given an estimated time of completion and I was happy to see that every step was completed well before the estimated time.

It was the 21st of December when I signed up and on 22nd I received an email saying my ADSL would be live on the 30th, which was pretty good considering I know people who have had to wait almost a month for broadband activation.

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