Monday, May 15, 2006

Earthlink's broken connection with customer service.

My wife wrote this up to send to Earthlink:

I called Earthlink on 4/21/06 to sign up for the DSL/Local/Long distance package for $69.95 a month that was being advertised. The rep said that we would not have to change phone numbers to do this, which was one of our main concerns, then took me through all of the initial questions and we’d spent a good 15 minutes or so on the phone before she told me that this service wasn’t available at our location. She suggested I call back every day to check and see if it was.

After hanging up, I realized that no, I was trying to buy something from Earthlink, and if they wanted to sell it to me, they need to call ME when it was available, especially since I’d been getting email and hard-copy offers, and that would constitute false advertising. So I called Earthlink on 4/22/06, explained what had happened and that I wasn’t ready to call every day to check on something I was offered, and the rep said that what I’d been told was wrong. It was available in my area, it’s just that since I already had Earthlink DSL service, I needed to talk to a different part of the sales team to set it up. They also mentioned that the full 8 Megabit service was not available on our phone line, but that they could get the speed up to 6 if that was ok with us. It was, and we were told that upgrades would be made to the physical phone lines as time went by. We placed the order and were told we would be receiving our modem within 10 business days, and everything would start when we got the modem hooked up.

I called again on 5/9/06 to find out where the modem was and was told the service couldn’t be started because we had a local exchange freeze on our phone that had to be removed. I asked why we hadn’t been informed of this so we could get it done, and Karen explained that they were going to call, just hadn’t gotten to it before I called. (Doesn’t good customer service mean you call BEFORE promises are broken?)

I called Qwest and had the freeze removed, order # R54524479, to be done by 5:00 5/10/06, then called Earthlink and let them know. This new customer service rep said that the notes indicated that this had needed to be done before 5/6/06. Since it wasn’t, the order was cancelled. I asked why we hadn’t been called or informed of any of this and she said she didn’t know, but there were no notes indicating anyone had tried. But the order was cancelled anyway. She said I would have to place a new order. I sat on hold for over 10 minutes, waiting to go through the initial setup process for the third time, and finally hung up because I cannot take that kind of time while I’m at work.

I asked Chad to call and he said he was told that another order can’t even be started until the freeze is removed, which again is different from what I was told. So we had to call back the next day and the day after, and go through the process again whenever the freeze is taken off.

Chad called on the evening of 5/12/06, well after the change was removed, and started the reorder. He stopped when the rep said she would have assign us a new phone number, and… Chad interrupted her and said we were told we would not need a new number. She said we were told wrong and that she had to give us a new number. We told her no thank-you and cancelled the order.

On 5/15/06 Chad tried one more time, thinking that instead of a new telephone number for us, they could use the new phone number for the DSL connection and let us keep our current phone number. The rep he talked to said that this was indeed possible, but because Earthlink only leases the lines and doesn’t actually own them, we would have to call Qwest to have a second phone number set up, contact Earthlink with that new telephone number, and they would then create a new account for the new DSL and move our phone number over to the VOIP system. The process as described could take up to 10 days, during which time we would have neither DSL or a phone. This is unacceptable.

I am EXTREMELY disappointed with how all of this has been mishandled, and frankly am very worried about trusting Earthlink with my business. The first responsibility of any business is to provide the best customer service possible. Not having the right information available to every rep at every stage of the game caused the story to change constantly, and every step of the way there was a new complication that required us to jump through another hoop. As the customer, it seems very strange to have to jump through hoops to try and give a company our business. It should be the other way around. In such a competitive phone service market, efficient and competent customer service is the most influential aspect of a business that can convince people to continue to purchase products and services from that company. I hope that we will see an improvement in your customer service going forward.

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