Giving them the Business 

Way back in January, I did not have much of an internet connection. So I decided that I would try to install some earthlink software so I could use it free for a couple of months before I figured out something better. Unfortunately, the Earthlink software wouldn't really work on my computer because the computer was manufactured sometime between when the earth first cooled and people began building pyramids. Oh well, I thought, I guess I'll have to figure something out sooner than I thought. And of course, I promptly forgot about it.

That is, until July, when I noticed that there were charges on my bill from Earthlink. When I called up customer service, which took me a long time to do because their 1-800-number is a kind of a secret, the person on the other end of the line was less than helpful. I was frustrated, so I asked him if he as a representative of Earthlink was going to charge me for a service I never used, essentially taking money away from me and giving me nothing in return. Of course, the guy said that was exactly what he planned to do, and other than cancel my service, there was nothing else we would do for me. Let's just say it was a bad day for me. But once again, I decided that I would forget about it and chalk the whole thing up as a learning experience.

That is, until today, when--guess what--I received a bill from Earthlink charging me $37.00 dollars. You might ask: for what? Good question. I haven't the slightest idea, something about a return item charge and an associated return item fee. Apparently, they not only want to charge for not only for returning something, but they want to add an extra charge on top of that just because they apparently hate to have stuff returned. Of course, I think this is wonderful policy. However, I guess I should clarify that it is wonderful only if you want your customers to hate you. It is exactly the kind of thing that inspire people to create "I hate so-and-so company" websites.

You might think that I would call the company and ask them what the hell they were smoking in their accounts receivable department, and that is just what I did. Fortunately, I got to talk to a guy who seemed to actually working for the forces of good. He said he did not know why my account had not been cancelled the first time. There was even a note in his computer saying that I had called to cancel. But, even better, he also saw that I had never used the service (how they can tell I don't know). Therefore, not only was he going to cancel the unknown $37.00 charge, he was going to send me a $90.00 dollar refund. Holy Crap! This sort of thing is not supposed to happen. I am so used to being told poor customer service is somehow my own fault that I was truly shocked. I made sure to tell the guy that, not only was he doing a great job, but he had made my day. I told him he had redeemed my faith in humanity (but only just little bit).

This is in direct contrast to a phonecall I received at 8:30 a.m. the other morning. I figure someone calling that early must be someone important, like a family member or a doctor, with important news that can't wait until a more decent hour of the day. Of course, it was telemarketer.
Incredulous, I said: "Do you realize it is 8:30 in the morning?"
The telemarketer says, "Well, I am sorry sir, but we are in our legal right to call."
I said: "Okay, well take my name off of your whatever list so I don't get called by you guys again."
She, "our whatever list?"
I, "Yes, I believe that I am within my legal right to request that you put me on your do not call list and that is exactly what I am doing right now."
And then she hung up. I wish these major corporations would figure out a better way to sell their products, and I wish that old people had someone to talk to. They're the only large group of people I can figure who are buying stuff on the telephone. Please people, do your civic duty and make them (the telephone sellers and the telephone buyers) stop. Please make them stop.

21 August 2004
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