When Companies Lie

Dirty rotten liars.

I really hate it when people from large corporations lie to me. Well, generally I don't like being lied to period, but specifically, I'm talking about being misled or just plain lied to in return for my money. It's like they change their policies or whatever and then they pretend that they never had that policy.

AOL Rant.

AOL tech support is dumb sometimes. I've been an America Online host, for crying out loud . . . I do not call tech support over really stupid problems, so of course I was slightly insulted when I had a problem and the first tech dude I talked to felt it was necessary to walk me through EVERY step (even "Click start. Now click programs. Now click AOL.") even after I told him I was an AOL host (which I was at the time--I'm not now). My problem was that after about a minute online, my computer kept freezing while using the AOL 5.0 software, even though it'd run fine before. I tried the silly things the tech told me to do, and when they didn't work I called them back. I got another dude who told me to just empty the image file cache or whatever . . . that had worked for me for something similar in the past, so I tried it, got online, and promptly froze. So THEN I talked to a rather nice lady and she had lots of actually informative suggestions, but most of them were for computer settings, not AOL 5.0 specific (which seemed odd to me, considering that I could sign on fine with 6.0, I just couldn't use 6.0 to host my chat room because it hated me and booted me often whenever it had to deal with certain fonts). So finally I called one more AOL tech and asked him if there was anything I could do before just reinstalling AOL (which I probably should have just done in the first place). Well, after checking some things, he found that one of my comm ports has an exclamation on it. This I knew; it was a nonexistent port that wasn't really there or damaged. It was just a quirk in my machine left over from something else. But he explained to me that it was impossible for me to get online if I have an error on my comm port and told me there was nothing more he could do. The fact that I *could* sign on using 6.0 did not seem to faze him or make him realize that his statement made no sense. I told him I would just reinstall AOL and it would probably work, but he told me I was wrong and would need to contact my computer company to repair the damaged port or whatever. Well, guess who reinstalled AOL 5.0 and originally POSTED this very rant online using that software? And what exactly is THIS?


Second AOL Rant.

As you may be able to tell, my website is kinda important to me. When everything was on AOL, I accessed my Web space through FTP and uploaded files, and then one day I got an error message saying "too many gateway sessions." After some experimentation, I discovered that this error only occurred on one of my screennames (the main one, where the bulk of my page was contained) and that it also occurred if I tried to use alternate software to access the space. Being that this prevented me from updating anything, I got impatient pretty fast and tried online tech support. They responded with stock answers, not understanding that their "clear your art files" and "change your access number" would not work if there was not a problem with my computer or my connection. Look, I can upload with EVERY OTHER SCREENNAME. STOP SUGGESTING FIXES THAT ACT LIKE MY SOFTWARE'S MESSED UP.

The problem continued over the next week. Falling farther behind on updates. No answers in sight. I called AOL eight times. Six out of the eight times, some guy in India told me he had no idea what was going on with my crap. If my website cannot be updated for any of the files on this screenname and all my other names can access it, shouldn't that tell you that I don't need to re-install AOL? It also didn't work on other versions of AOL or on OTHER PEOPLE'S COMPUTERS. And yet their reaction was always "Yeah, yeah. Try this anyway." So they'd play with my settings and delete art files (that's the most annoying one--I'm not having a problem getting into my FTP space because my cache is full goddamn it!!!). Buddy. There is something wrong on YOUR END. Go file an effing report!

And see, they made me keep this case reference number, which insinuates that when I called and gave it to them they should have been able to read a quick recap and find out what other people had made me do and what they had discovered about the problem so far. Oh wait! No such luck! The SIXTH time I called the tech guy told me "So it says here you're getting an error when you try to sign on?" WHO PUT THAT THERE?? No. I have no problem signing on. Yes I know how to use FTP. No that is not a keyword about AUTO PARTS. I do not need to re-install AOL. I am not reassured by you saying "don't worry" ten times and explaining to me that you're "sure" that quitting all the superfluous processes on my system will allow me to access the FTP space. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING.

I finally made a little headway when I got a tech support guy who a) Spoke English; b) Sounded NICE; c) Took me seriously; and d) Had a sense of humor. (Note: And when I say he spoke English, I'm saying he understood what I was saying and I understood what he was saying. I didn't have trouble understanding the accents of the Indian guys I'd talked to, and am not one of those assholes who screams about "SPEAK ENGLISH YA GODDAMN FURRINER." I'm saying I would say something about not being able to access my Web space, and they would start telling me about Keyword: Auto Parts. Complete failure to communicate.)

I told this new guy in about three sentences what was wrong and he immediately realized it was an unorthodox problem and started talking unorthodox solutions. He said there was nothing wrong with my account, no blocks or anything, and eventually he said it was flummoxing him and that it was going to blow up his brain, and that someone was going to have to clean Brandon brain off the walls of his cube. Har. He sounded cute. I want to talk to Brandon again and get him to fix my computer.

Brandon told me that my problem with gateway sessions worried him a little and that I might have a virus. Turns out he was kind of right and kind of not. He was kind of right in that I DID HAVE A VIRUS, actually I think I had like five of them, but when I told my friend Jeaux what Brandon said he hopped on my computer and cleaned it for me 'til 5 in the morning. And I still couldn't get into FTP.

Brandon transferred me to the Community Action Team, supposedly because I was going to have them check and see if I've got, like, weird stuff on my account 'cause of viruses. I should have known I was in trouble when the CAT representative chick picked up and said "So you're having trouble signing on?" Had to start from square one with her and explain that I got transferred. It seemed no one I talked to had any clue what I'd been through even though I kept giving them that reference number. ::sigh::

Finally, Jeaux went online to some tech help boards and THE TECHS THERE KNEW ABOUT THE PROBLEM. There were other people posting there saying they haven't been able to get into FTP since the 14th of the month, which was the same day I started having my problem. The person's like "It's a widespread problem, report it here, the problem is already clearing up as of yesterday, tell this screenname about it because they might not know it's happening in your area." So I did. And finally, several days later, I was able to get in again, though it was glitchy at first. I can't believe how much time and frustration I wasted explaining the same thing over and over--I think AOL's tech help is arranged so that even if the tech knows nothing about computers they are trained to try to solve your problem by reading off a screen. I think if the tech hears a problem they've never heard of before, they should transfer me to someone like Brandon. And how is it that my friend who has never been an AOL member figured out what to do (looking at the support boards) when the people on the phone don't seem to realize that their own support boards exist?

BellSouth Rant.

When I lived in Gainesville, my phone company, BellSouth, decided to make it its business to suck my ass royally. When I moved to my new apartment, I made sure well in advance that everything was set up for phone service. Well, I had no phone service at all for almost a week, and THAT was no picnic, and involved lots of angry phone calls from work and pay phones asking why they can't just turn my phone on like I set up according to their rules almost a month before, but hey, that was just the beginning.

So, they offered me some package deal for all the features that were cool and I took it, until I realized that I didn't want to pay over thirty bucks just to use two of the features. So I called up to cancel that plan and just pay for the services I wanted individually, which would of course be cheaper. But the lady refused to quote me the prices and kept insisting that the plan was better because blah blah blah, and finally she did admit to me that if I *only* wanted two services (voicemail and call waiting), it would be much cheaper to go through with it that way. She proceeded to try to talk me into an insurance plan of some sort since I'd be saving so much money. Dude, I asked to cancel the plan 'cause I *need* the money, not because I want to just toss it onto buying something else.

Anyway. So yes, they removed the package plan . . . and didn't keep the features I wanted. I had no voicemail for a week, which was distressing since they told me it would be on. I called about it and they said there'd been a computer error in the middle of the processing that caused a hold of some sort on my account and they needed the manager to fix it and they'd call me the next day. They didn't, and I still didn't have voicemail, so I called them . . . and they told me "What're you talking about? What computer error?" The lady said she'd put voicemail on for me. It didn't work. Blah blah blah.

But still that wasn't the end of it, even after I finally got my voicemail (and a credit for all the trouble). After only a month of having my bill and services the way I wanted it, my bill suddenly skyrocketed again for no reason. And my bill indicated that I was on some other even MORE expensive plan now. So I called and bitched about it. They informed me that I had personally called them and asked for it. Fat frigging chance I did. They told me that if I didn't then someone pretending to be me must have. I tend to think that after so many mistakes on my account, it is more likely that they made some kind of error . . . more likely than thinking there's some weird person out there pretending to be me and signing me up for package plans at BellSouth. So I password-protected my account and told her to take the plan off and give me a credit . . . and of course, that was the end of that incident, but not the end of their suckage.

I did have a minor incident with them when I changed to broadband service for my Internet and decided to cancel my local service (I was getting a VOIP service) and just keep my long distance with them. My long distance was unlimited domestic with one flat fee, and I was clear that I wanted to keep that. But I got an envelope in the mail "welcoming" me to a different program, so I called them about it and they said to ignore it because someone must've just screwed up. Nope! I got billed for this different program too, and the person on the phone even tried to tell me that it was like an "interim" bill that was just billing me at my old rate one more time before switching me to the plan I wanted. "I never HAD a plan that billed me on a per-minute per-call basis," I explained, and finally he figured out that something really was incorrect on my account and made the right change. When I left Gainesville I didn't have to have their service anymore. Joy.

Computer Rant.

My very first computer's dial-up modem died one day after I'd been using it for over two years. My support guy told me it was because my phone cord was too long. Uh . . . what? I'd been using the same long phone cord for the two and a half years that my modem worked fine. He refused to speak to me anymore about what else could be wrong with my modem until I replaced the phone cord. This required a trip to Eckerd's and the loss of several dollars. I then dragged my computer over to where it could access a phone jack and managed to plug it in. No luck. I called the guy back and he had me go into my settings. This made no sense since I hadn't changed any settings and the modem had just decided to die spontaneously. He claimed they could reset on their own, which I guess whatever could be true. Computers can be weird. But resetting the settings didn't help either. His next course of action was for me to try reinstalling my system, thereby erasing everything on my hard drive. Yeah. I told him that was not an option and I wanted to fix what was wrong. He told me it was probably the modem's software and that the only way to get that working again was to reinstall the whole system. Bullshit. I asked him if it would also be a viable alternative to replace the modem. He said it would not work because it was the software that was corrupted. Then he suggested I get an exterior modem. Annoyed that he hadn't suggested this *before* the hard drive erasure "solution," I asked how much exterior modems generally ran for. He quoted me a price that wasn't too bad. I went around looking for exterior modems but all I could find was really expensive ones that were really slow. I called a couple computer shops and those folks said I could just replace the internal modem and then I'd have a fast modem for less money. I called the support guy back to report this, to ask if my warranty would cover it if I replaced the internal modem and it worked. He said they would but that it wouldn't work. Guess who bought a new internal modem and had her problem fixed? And then guess who refused to honor the warranty because I didn't do it through them? (Since they refused to set up a repair ticket on account of the fact that their solution was a complete system reinstall, I hardly see how that was an option. . . .) The man in charge of refusing me was a HUGE prick, too--probably the worst customer service person I'd ever talked to on the phone, seriously ever. He told me condescendingly that even though the solution I chose ended up working, in most cases the customer doesn't know better than the tech, and that it had been wrong of me to question him. He literally said that about his co-worker--he said "You should not have questioned him. You were challenging his authority. We don't give people special treatment when they challenge our authority." It was the most screwed up thing ever, and I'm fairly certain the condescending tone in his voice right from the beginning was partly in response to having to explain shit to a woman. If only I hadn't been a na´ve little college kid I probably would have totally kicked the crap out of him verbally. . . .

Bank Rant.

When I was in college, my roommate's mom sent her a check, and she could not get it cashed for whatever reason so she asked if I would write her car insurance check and then she would sign her mom's check over to me. That worked out fine and good except I wasn't sure how to go about having a check signed over, so I endorsed it improperly. When the money from the check was not in my account by the time my next statement came, I called the bank and asked what I should do. They said that I had indeed endorsed it improperly but that I should have been notified of this and had the check returned to me for proper endorsement. The guy was very nice and said they could put a trace on the check for me, and then send me something in the mail within fifteen business days. Well, seeing as how months passed and none of that happened, I called back and was informed that nothing of the sort could have been done without the check number. I didn't have the check number, only the date I deposited it. Bottom line is, the check vanished off the face of the Earth and I got screwed out of twenty bucks.

Second Bank Rant.

My mom wanted me to change banks so that I could be at the same bank as she was. (Not sure why, but I didn't question it.) So I closed my account at one bank and got the money issued to me as a check. Then I went to open a new account at my mom's bank. During the "sign here, sign here, sign here" phase, a caveat came clear to me that just wouldn't do: Since I'd just opened an account with checks, the money would not be available for seven days, and a hold would be placed on my account. My rent was due in two days.

To get around this, the representative suggested I go get the check cashed at the bank it was issued from so that I could open my new account with cash and have instant access. I did that--which wasn't easy for me since I don't drive and I had to have my friend Scott drive me all over town--and came back with cash to open my account. Should have been fine.

Except then I paid my rent two days later and my check bounced. I asked my apartment manager whether that had happened just because I was using the temporary checks or what, but she said no. It was denied for insufficient funds.

So I called the bank and it turned out there was still a hold on my account. After some discussion, it turned out that they'd forgotten to remove the hold that had been automatically placed on my account as it had been entered as "opened with checks" and not changed after the fact. I was told to go to a branch to get it straightened out, so I did, and the person who helped me was not exactly a jerk about it, but it was clear she was trying really hard to make it somehow my fault and to deny that the hold didn't belong there. She made up some weird excuses that I didn't even understand--stuff that didn't wash when I challenged it--and just kept doing this weird thing where she'd press her lips together and look away from me like she was trying to think of a way to make me stop asking for things. What I repeatedly asked for was a) take the hold off my account, b) delete the fee I was being charged by the bank for bouncing a check, and c) pay the fee my apartment complex was charging for bouncing a check.

Eventually when I got it escalated they agreed on all counts that this was a coding error and their fault, and they did everything I wanted, and believe me I was never snotty or nasty about it, but it really bothered me that it was clearly a bank error and the representative tried so hard to make me think it had to be something I'd done wrong myself.

Hair Dye Rant.

My old roommate accidentally dyed her eyebrows blonde with hydrogen peroxide while she was using it to clean her face, and she wanted to find out how to dye them black again since she had never heard of a way to dye eyebrows. She called a hair place, where the guy informed her that she could just get some black hair dye and use a mascara brush to dye them. She was dubious about this since she had heard that was dangerous and it was easy to get it in your eyes. He insisted (rudely) that she just get some black hair dye and hung up on her. Later research proved that she could have easily blinded herself with this process. I don't think we'll be going to that hair place anytime soon.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. In this day and age, cigarette companies are still claiming their product doesn't cause cancer. Whatever.

Bowling Alley Rant.

One time my friend and I wanted to try bowling so we went to a nearby bowling alley. It turned out we arrived on some bowling league madness day, when they were trying to organize leagues for the whole season, so they were understandably busy and confused. So my friend and I asked for a lane and they said it'd be about half an hour before they could figure out what lanes were available and what lanes were reserved for the leaguers. So, being used to accepting sucky situations and it being obvious that this was an unusual state of affairs, we waited. We were told that we'd be notified when they knew if we could bowl tonight, but after 45 minutes (yes, we timed it; that's a long time to sit and WAIT) no one said anything to us so we asked after the lane again. They still didn't know, so we just said hey, we're gonna go to the grocery store and get that out of the way and come back. "What time do you close?" we asked, and the guy told us they closed at 2 in the morning. Perfect. We went, did our shopping, dropped off the groceries, and came back to a locked door at 11:30. Umkay.

So we figured whatever, it was a fluke, and I called them the next week and asked them how late they'd be open. They said they weren't sure yet until they found out how big a crowd they were going to get. That seemed odd, but we were like okay, you're the boss, and we went at 8:30 again like we had the week before. Again it was drowned in leaguers (though it was better organized this time), and we were assured that it wasn't like a "league night" or anything; they'd just decided to stay, a lot of them, and play more after the league. We made the same arrangements as last time and again they didn't call us, so we asked again "Hey, we're gonna go shopping, how late will you be open?" The girl told me they'd be open 'til 2. That smelled. I mentioned to her that the last time we'd been here, they'd said the same thing and when we came back at 11:30 they were closed already. She gave me a look and said, "Well, I am going to be here 'til two. . . ." Okay, okay. So we left, did our shopping, came back. Can you guess what happened?

Yup. Closed at 11:30.

Maybe that girl's bed is in the back?

Anyway, we were kinda like "okay, screw them," but I was very annoyed because I hate being a dissatisfied customer. It takes a LOT to make me have one of those "I'll take my business elsewhere!" fist-shaking moments, but that did it. I mean, I usually understand when people make mistakes or things are difficult. I understood when a waitress forgot to take our order and just helped everyone else thinking we were just waiting for our order to come out of the kitchen. I understood when a waiter dropped a soup bowl and it landed on my friend. I even understood when a computer place charged me a hundred bucks to tell me my scanner cord was broken but the scanner was all right, even though they'd just had to plug it in to find that out. Policy is policy, and I understand that I'm a brick in the wall, just another customer, and I am content to take a number and wait my turn. But when someone gives me attitude because THEY fucked up, I get pissed off. And that's what this page is for.

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Comments from others:

Mikey: Ah yes so correct we are just numbers to mass business I think that somewhere along the line they had forgotten the human factor and why they chose to do business in the first place.