Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Reruns: Earthlink, We Have a Problem

(original post-date: March 10, 2010)

Last Friday, a friend called and asked if I was okay. She had sent me two fairly time-sensitive emails over the course of two weeks, and she hadn’t heard from me.

I appreciated her concern and let her know that I was fine (notwithstanding the state of the world). I also shared with her that I had replied to her emails shortly after receiving them. For some reason, though, she never got those replies.

She and I both have Earthlink accounts, so I became curious. I sent myself a test email, and while it showed up in my Sent file, it never reached my Inbox. Hmm….

I went online to the Support Center and saw alerts regarding email outages and a large volume of calls. I figured they were “on it” and didn’t pursue it further. Besides, it was the beginning of Oscar weekend, so I had things to do. You know… prepare a speech, borrow some baubles from Harry Winston, consult with Vera regarding the length of my train, decide on an updo, all that stuff. (And on another astral plane, I had to clean my low-rent apartment in advance of friends gathering ‘round the telecast.)

By Monday, I was ready to get back to my life outside the Academy, and I still was not receiving test emails. I headed to the online Support Center. Seeing no indication of outage alerts, I pushed the buttons that would begin my live chat with a techie named George.

Devoted to the script in front of him, George began his end of our cyber-logue by apologizing for the inconvenience. Then, over the course of 30 minutes or so, he coached me through some maneuvers, ultimately enabling me to receive a test email. Problem solved?

I closed the window on George and did another test. No sale. The problem persisted.

I won’t go into the details of my subsequent pursuits of technical support, but by the end of the day, I had spent about six hours with Earthlink. I tried an actual telephone conversation following the first chat with George, and when that didn't resolve the issue, I returned to online live chatting, the fourth session ending well after midnight. But whether I was communicating with George, Paul, John, or Ringo, the lines they typed were always the same: “I apologize for the inconvenience;” “the problem is solved;” “you will not have this problem again;” etc.

Apparently, there is no statement on their script that says something to the effect of, “We have no idea how to solve this problem, but we’ll do our best to figure it out and we appreciate your patience.”

The thing is, the problem itself is really minor, as computer issues go. I seem to be getting all my other email, and others are receiving mine. I also now know where to look for the emails that are not making it into my inbox. So that part is not so frustrating. What frustrates me is that this feels like another instance of corporate unwillingness to confront a problem candidly.

Granted, Earthlink issues do not lead to cars speeding out of control, and there’s no threat to life here, but please, don’t blame the floormat if it’s not the floormat’s fault. And if you don’t know what the problem is, quit pretending that you can solve it.

Own up, people! Believe me, I’m not looking for perfection. If I were, I’d have to start with myself, and if I ever tell you that I’m taking that on, well… that’s just a load of spam.

3 comments:

Andrea said...

First, I'm glad you have a life outside the Academy because following those people around all the time can make your hair turn platinum and cause obscure haikus to be tatooed onto your back in caligraphy you can only hope is authentic Chinese. Second, I'm glad this was a year ago because I've got an earthlink account and I started to get worried, but then saw the "rerun" part. Finally, I'm with you in wanting an honest world. Where is our honest world? Anyway, Katie, I hope this problem hasn't troubled you lately.

Gigi said...

Happy SITS day. Computer customer service people are incredibly frustrating, aren't they?

From Tracie said...

Ugh. How very frustrating!

But...today is your SITS day, so it should be frustration free, right? Congrats! =)