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