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> Having widely available phone support, even with fancy automation, increases the price of the product you are selling, as even at minimum wage, a user calling in and fumbling their way through a poorly-worded and probably-not-even-legitimate complaint simply costs too much.

Here's an idea for company in this kind of situation: move all call center staff to phone support. And then market the hell out of this fact. Like, "we the company X respect you as a customer, so we moved all our call-center staff to support. We won't call you with useless offers, and you can always call us if you have a problem." It would definitely help getting new customers, as well as keeping the old ones satisfied.

Yes, and some companies do that; this is not, however, a universal aspect of customers: many of them choose on price alone. In fact, there are ISPs who do exactly what you describe: by and large, though, the majority of people (if not always the majority of dollars) just optimize for lower prices, even if the result makes them unhappy due to poor product longevity or crappy customer support. You thereby are choosing your market, which leads to the massive dichotomies that exist between players like Dell and Apple.

You see this in computers (Apple only targets high-end customers for a reason, and you pay for all of those happy people everywhere), you see this in airline tickets (nothing makes me angrier than someone who complains about the food on a flight they optimized down to the penny using a service like PriceLine.com), you see this in food (people get angry that the food they eat is unhealthy, but don't take this into account as part of the price)... you just see this everywhere: people optimize on the one thing that is easy to optimize in the moment, and that is price.

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