Shortly after our original Rottweiler Heidi came to live with us in 1994, I made a very basic web page for her with a few photos, a couple of cute stories and a list of links about Rottweilers. Sometime over the next year or so, I was searching for more links to add to the page when I stumbled across Mindspring’s website. At that time, Mindspring was a regional ISP based in Atlanta. Their website included a page featuring their “Chief Executive Rottweiler” Henri, a three-legged Rottweiler belonging to an employee.
Of course I thought that was wonderful. I added the link to Heidi’s page, and had Heidi write to Henri, complimenting him on his business acumen and hoping that she, too, could one day achieve success in a technology career. I was shocked to receive a reply a couple of days later from Mindspring CEO Charles Brewer (or an assistant, I’ll never know for sure) with some kind words to Heidi about her page and the good resources she provided with her links. I wrote back on Heidi’s behalf and said that if Mindspring ever expanded to our area, we would use them as our ISP.
In 1997, they did come to Chicago, and I kept Heidi’s promise. Mindspring had excellent customer service and technical support. There were some growing pains, but things were always taken care of in a friendly and professional manner. We upgraded to DSL in 2000. When Earthlink bought out Mindspring, things were still fine for quite a while.
Somewhere along the line, Charles Brewer left to pursue other projects. Garry Betty passed away from cancer. Things started changing for the worse around that time. Support and customer service were outsourced. The service itself had pretty good uptime, but whenever I did have to contact support for any reason, it was simply hell to deal with the lower level outsourced technicians and their canned scripts and fake American names.
The last outage was the last straw. It lasted a little longer than usual, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem clearly lay outside my network, but the lower level tech put me through the entire script regardless. I could have dealt with that if he had actually escalated the call to the phone company to check the physical lines as he said he was going to do.
When I called back the next morning to check on the status, per tech’s instructions, the new tech said that he would put a trouble ticket in to the phone company. Ummm. It was done last night? No, apparently not.
This was still not the breaking point, as the phone company did more than their part and actually showed up shortly after I’d left for work and took care of their part of things.
The breaking point was the tech who called for me at work. He got off to a great start by asking one of my male co-workers if he was me. This particular co-worker does not sound like Barry White, but neither does he sound like a girl. Then, wonder tech continues by asking me to check on my service. I point out that he has called me at work, and the troubled DSL is at home. He repeats his request verbatim. I point out his error again, a little louder. He repeats his request again. I resort to profanity, ask for a supervisor, and am denied. I tell the tech I will check on the DSL when I get home and hang up.
Fortunately all was well. But that was the last straw, and after a dozen years, I have finally given up. The Mindspring I subscribed to is long gone. Heidi’s gone, Henri’s gone, and customer service is gone and way more dead than either of those beautiful dogs. And now I am gone. I made the call to cancel my account earlier tonight. The… again, outsourced… customer service rep noted that I had been a customer since 1997. Yeah. Had been. Not happy. Leaving.
I truly mourn the loss of the days that a company could still have a cutesy page with a “Chief Executive Rottweiler” and a CEO that took the time to see that a silly letter from a dog was answered. And a person could call for customer support and be able to talk to a person in their own country who could communicate effectively in their language.