Reply to post: This is why you want to at least deal with local vendors

BOFH: But I did log in to the portal, Dave


This is why you want to at least deal with local vendors

Cross-country murder is a lot harder, and in the US turns it into a Federal crime.

Back at the very tail end of the 20th Century, I had a home DSL line (I knooowwwww!) at my apartment in Boston, with service through an ISP located in California. They resold service from one company (AT&T), installed by a second (Covad), and so FlashCom's #ONEJOB was basically to just collect my monthly payments in return for doing exactly nothing. It should've been TWO jobs, the second being to keep my service active. And therein lies my mistake.

After a few months of relatively trouble-free access to the new-fangled Information Superhighway, some sort of physical calamity befell my line that took it out of service. It's ancient physical copper wiring in an old, old city, these things just happen. Unfortunately, though, getting a company clear across the country to service your telephone line is not the easiest thing. And, I couldn't call AT&T because they wanted nothing to do with me: I wasn't their customer, FlashCom was. So, I waited.

It eventually came to pass that a service tech had been dispatched, and determined that the line was dead. (Gee, thanks.) Furthermore, he determined that it was the last unused pair of copper wires in the trunk, there were no more available, and so they were very sorry, but there was nothing they could do about restoring my service. (Because that line only carried DSL, and no analog telephone service, it wasn't subject to the regulations that would've required them to sort out the problem, no matter what they had to do — even if it meant digging up the street and running an entirely new trunk to our building. This is why regulation is a good thing, folks.)

Now, mind you, it's taken the better part of five weeks to make this determination, with my line down the entire time. Then the other shoe dropped.

Turns out, FlashCom had been continuing to bill me for the entire five weeks that my line was down and I was not, in fact, receiving any of the "service" I was paying them for! Naturally, when I discovered this, I immediately stormed off to their website (yes, it is possible to "storm" to a virtual location, as I learned that day) to cancel my non-service. I mean, after all, they were a modern dot-com company, with a customer account portal and everything!

A customer account portal which promptly crashed every time I attempted to submit the cancellation form.

After trying three times, and now completely livid, I practically broke the buttons off my phone pounding their phone number in, to speak to their billing department in person. This involved subjecting myself to the same four-song hold music loop I had already become intimately familiar with, over the preceding five weeks, but this time I don't think I even heard it.

To make an already-long story slightly less long, the tale ends with me SCREAMING, completely unhinged at what sounded like a tiny 70-year-old woman in their billing department (because screw her, she knew the risks), after she suggested that I log in to their customer portal and cancel the account myself.

Seriously, I was so belligerent she had to hang up on me. And to her credit, when I called back a few minutes later, slightly less rabid, she did finally process my cancellation and release me from the hell that was FlashCom. Which promptly went out of business some time within the next two months.

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