This was intended for email@example.com but she apparently is on maternity leave. She did NOT mention this to me. Very nice of her to ask me to send this, and then let it sit in her inbox until I got tired of waiting for a response. =-= This is being typed up for firstname.lastname@example.org at her request after a phone call. This is being CC'd to relevant parties. The headers of each section show who I have made these complaints to. As requested, here is a brief summary of some of the problems I have experienced with netcom in the past year. These events or conversations are from my memory, some notes, as well as captured email. I have worked as a PC Tech for the last 5 years, taught as an instructor at the college level, and currently do government computer security consulting. =-= [POP Problems - pop-problems@ + support@] Roughly one year ago I began having problems with the 303 (Denver CO) dialins. Many times it would click (the modem picking up), then sit there. Other times it would begin the handshake and not connect. The first few nights I called your tech support to let them know of the problems, often times sitting on hold for up to 30 minutes (long distance no less). Each time they would check some board and say they had no reported problems. Off and on for the following 12 months I would continue to have these problems. This occured for me, my girlfriend, and several other friends using netcom. I eliminated the possibility of it being my modem and my computer by using several different setups at work, and other locations. Once a month I would call in and repeat the problems. Many nights it was to the point where I would use my voice line to dial in and get the bad modem(s). Right as I heard your modem trying to connect, I would dial with my computer line and connect successfully. Every time I called your tech support I told them the problem, and explained in detail why it was happening, and how to fix it. To this day the problem persists. After a while you instituted a new address for modem problems (pop-problems@) and I began to tell them as well. Often times I would CC the mail to support but they mailed back saying "mail the other guys". Their lack of ability to read unix email and see that I had sent it to multiple users was disheartening. pop-problems mailed back every time wanting me to fill out a short essay on the problems, and each time I replied "see last month's complaint". Last month I talked to someone via mail (at support, not pop-probs) and they replied "We can't fix it". I can fix the problem, and I told them exactly how to do it, yet they didn't. Once every two weeks (give or take a few days), there would be a time where I would connect to your server and get a message "network down" or something similiar. I would then mail support from another account, or telnet into the netcom machines and mail from my account to let them know of the problems. Sometimes I would call (long distance) to tell them, and each time they gave me a standard blanket excuse (which was a complete lie in almost all cases).. "The local phone company cut our phiber optic lines". As I said, this was a complete lie. The error message I was getting was being sent by your servers.. if the phibers had been cut, then I might expect a modem handshake, connect, and it would just sit there until it determined that it couldn't connect. Sometimes the problem would be different like "passwd file not available" and I would still get the same reply "our phibers were cut". Not only did they lie about those problems, but just about everything else. If the tech support couldn't readily give me a reason why something wasn't working, he would never say "i'm not sure", but would rather try to BS his way out of it. That works for the uneducated customers, but not the handful of us that know the business. As one of your own reps pointed out, you shouldn't be lying to ANY of your customers, regardless. The last problem I had was being found every hour (almost hourly). In the middle of just about any application, with no warning I would get hung up on. Immediate carrier drop for no apparent reason. Considering the environment, it sounded like a POP problem or server problem. I mailed support@ and pop-problems@ with what I had been encountering and received replies telling me how to configure my modem. I replied back guaranteeing it was not my modem, that I connected to other machines (SunOS even), connected to other POPs, Bulletin Board Systems, etc., and had no problems. The next piece of mail was the same thing, blaming me for the problem. Once again I told them why I thought it was their service and asked if they could look into it. I never received an answer as to why it was happening and it never stopped. =-= [Security - security@ + nc0022@] admin@ + root@ Your security department had a direct lie, and then followed it up with an even worse excuse for lying. During the entire Mitnick affair, security said directly to me "no, we do not keep customer credit card information online, and we never have." The credit card file was posted to usenet (about half of it) and a report in the hacker magazine 2600 told about it. There is no way to deny that yes, the information was kept online, and that yes, he did grab it. When I asked security AFTER Mitnick was arrested, had they kept it online they said "no" again. I told them about the magazine, usenet post, and the hundreds of articles that told about it. Security replied "well, yes". I asked why I was lied to and received the cheezy reply of "We couldn't tell anyone because of the investigation". The file had been posted to usenet!! I called back a few months later to change a billing option and asked if they were still stored online. The reply was "yes, but they are stored behind a triple government firewall". I do government computer security.. both defensive (setting up firewalls) as well as offensive (controlled system penetration). I know both sides of the game and am well read on both sides. If you have three firewalls up to protect that information, then you wasted thousands of dollars on needless systems running them. That was my money (as the customer) that you wasted. It only takes a SINGLE firewall setup correctly to secure a system. If you didn't waste that money, that means I was lied to again. There were a few times when I first started using my account that I ran into some incidents that hinted my account was being used by someone else. Occasionally a few commands in my history file were different, or I received a piece of mail about something completely off as if it were intended for someone else. Each time I notified Margaret (security@) and received no response. I had no idea if it was being looked into or not. It stopped a month later so I quit worrying about it, but to this day have not received a piece of mail about the incident. =-= [Support - support@ + support@ix] admin@ + root@ First off, I realize that customer mail takes a while to answer due to volume, but the delay in netcom support is too much. Since my first piece of mail, the average response time was 20 days. This time could be expected on just about any kind of mail, even with a subject line of "urgent" or "emergency". I have had problems with everything from the FTP server being down, to not being able to telnet out and connect to anything. At times the DNS server was down or not responding making it impossible to connect to any other machine. The times when the FTP server was down caused problems with people being able to access my web pages and FTP files. If I had a business account, that would mean lost business and revenue. Many times I would change my "full name" information (chfn) or my password (passwd) only to find the change wouldn't take effect, or "yp server busy, try again later". This would go on for days at some points. Every ISP will suffer problems, but apparently netcom does not have the staff needed to deal with the amount of problems, or they are not knowledgeable in the areas needed. Over the year support and the admin team often stated "we are taking steps to shorten the response time". This sounds really good..for the first three or four times the customer hears it. After that, it becomes and unfufilled promise. =-= [Service Problems - support@ + admin@] In recent months, the machine loads of the 23 shell servers would average 15.0 or so. This is incredibly high and slows other jobs and processes down. The longer it takes, the longer the user waits to do simple tasks. There have been a few occasions of machine loads reaching over 100.0 and higher. This screams out that netcom does not have the hardware to match the amount of users. When I left, you had 34,000 shell users, and during that entire year, never did you add a new machine to help compenate the user load. For someone to 'finger' my account, they would often wait a full minute, sometimes three. If the lag is that bad for a 'finger', imagine what it would be for the user. As the WWW became more popular, every ISP started adding a Web Server to allow their users to put up web pages. Never did you put one up for the users. Instead, you put up a web server with information for new customers and denied your current customers access to put their pages up. Instead, we had to put them up in the FTP directories. When you put web pages up the first thing you do is check them. Every time I did, I couldn't get into the FTP server as 'anonymous' (which others will use to view my pages). When I finally did get in, the connection was extremely slow, and it would not load all my images. I would have to click on the 'reload' option up to 20 times to be able to see my full web page and each of the graphics (there are only 4). This suggests that as more users are added, no measures are taken to ensure bandwidth is available to them. It took years, but you finally put up an IRC server. That server has been acting up since day one, and was down for two weeks before I left for a new provider. Without IRC, Web Access, or other basic services, you can no longer claim you are an Internet provider. Instead of full access to the net, we are getting only partial access, and what we get is very shaky. There have been times when I tried to connect to netcom from another host only to get "telnetd: All network ports in use." =-= [Billing - billing@] At one point a few months ago, the 303 POPs were not working. For the entire weekend (monday afternoon was the breaking point) no one in 303 could access the Netcom servers. Support didn't answer mail in time, pop-problems didn't answer mail, and tech support (long distance) denied the problem or said "it tests fine on our side". The entire weekend went by with no change. When I finally got back on Monday night, I mailed support telling them of the problem again, and mailed Billing for a three day refund on two account. I realize this is just about 70 cents per day, per account. I was only asking for a $4.20 refund for the lost time. Instead of getting a "Sure, no problem", I received sarcastic mail saying "its only a couple of cents". If it is only a couple of cents, then why hassle me in mail? Why upset me further? A few pieces of mail later and they agreed to do that. The second time this happened I asked for two days for two accounts. I received NO reply at all, and never saw charges for either occasion appear on my credit card statement. Billing had lied to me. =-= Last month I called to cancel one of my two shell accounts. I ended up talking with a customer service rep at first, and then a customer service manager called me later that day after hearing my complaints. Both were *EXTREMELY HELPFUL* and *VERY POLITE*. They did not question me, did not lie to me, and actually listened to me. I was truly surprised at this. Unfortunately, this level of service had not come earlier. I ended up explaining some of my problems and thanking her. She apologized and asked if she could do anything, and I said 'no'. She told me she would refund the entire last month of my second account that I was cancelling since I hadn't used it, and was having so many problems. I thought that was quite fair and was content. This month I received my credit card bill to find two charges, one for my shell account, and the other for 23.88 or some such amount. Both of my accounts were only receiving mail. The one I had cancelled had a .forward so no mail was stored there. My account was receiving mail, but I checked it every 6-12 hours with my other account. I called in yesterday (5-20-96) and spoke with Debbie in customer service. She got my story and talked with Brenda in billing about refunding it. Brenda had to verify that the person who cancelled my account said she would process the refund. She didn't trust me. Later I received a message that the credit had been refunded. There is no reason I should have been charged for that account, and even less of a reason there would be a higher amount as the previous months. Despite this fact, it took a little convincing before anyone would believe me about having files that would have increased the disk quota charge. Debbie insisted several times that I must have a netcruiser account. I assured her I didn't and she repeated "19.95 charge? You must have a netcruiser account". NO. I do NOT have a netcruiser account. =-= I am tired of being jacked around by different people. I asked to speak with David Garrison (CEO of netcom). The operator would not give me his extension, and instead transferd me to Bonnie someone. Bonnie wasn't in and I only got her voice mail. Nice try. I called back and asked for David again, gave my name and company and ended up speaking with Laura Foss (David's assistant). Here I am with my detailed complaint. I have given the above information over the phone several times, each with no success. Hopefully we can resolve these continued problems. Even though I am cancelling my last account, I am still a paying customer and wish to get the service I asked for. As I have told numerous people at netcom, I used to work in a retail environment where customers would ask me about the Internet. Every day, almost hourly I would recommend netcom, and give the customer your 800 number, and what to ask for. As a college instructor teaching business computer science to people who have never touched the computer, I am constantly telling them the benefits of being on the net. Each day, a new set of students ask me the best ISP to go through. Since this letter has typed up I have moved on to doing computer security consulting for Trident Data Systems. I am once again in a position to deal with hundreds of people and recommend an ISP. Until recently, I had always said Netcom. I can guarantee that I have brought at *LEAST* one hundred customers to you. I consider that to be a low end estimate. If that is the case, that means $24,000 a year revenue for you. On top of that, I am paying $240 a year for one of my accounts. Never did I receive a benefit for getting you those customers, never did I receive any extra help after reminding people of that fact. Currently, if you finger my remaining account (email@example.com), you will see a brief summary of my complaints. This is to help people understand what kind of service they are looking at, or belong to. Hopefully, things will be resolved so that I may remove that information, and only keep my new information there. I don't even know what to ask for to make me happy. Despite the fact you have lost me as a customer, it is still possible to save me as a reference. Despite the incredible lack of service, I *STILL* reccomend the Netcruiser service in some cases. Thank you. Brian ps: below is the last piece of mail I exchanged regarding these problems. As you will see, I have pointed out some serious gaps in service from some of your representatives. From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed May 8 10:33:06 1996 Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 22:39:01 -0700 (PDT) From: Damien Sorder
To: Ishmael Estrada Subject: Re: Your message of April 24, 1996 > I am sorry you feel that I am not being truthful with you. I only > received a copy of your April 24th message on April 30 and I tried looking > for you in our database. The closest I came to was a user, Mr Bob Martin > in Colorado. If you are not he, I apologize. I called and left a > message to Mr Martin's phone number in hopes of contacting you. I am in there as Brian Martin. I have had this account for over a year. > Did you establish a new account? If so, are you also experiencing > problems with that account as far as accessibility and reliability? Yes. I removed one of the two from here, and have setup two on my new provider. I am waiting to take care of my numerous mailing lists before I drop this account. I am experiencing NO problems with my new provider. The sysadin answers my mail in a day if it is of any importance, and two days if I just mail him with 'hi'. > We do acknowledge the delays on responding to our customers, on the phone > and via e-mail. We have instituted processes that are making > significant progress in improving our service. Obviously, we have a long > ways to go and much to improve. There has been NO improvement though. For over a year I keep hearing that and see no improvement. Support mail takes LONGER now, hold time is LONGER. I have read 'we are improving' for so long, but you aren't. Not even enought to keep the hold time the same. > I can only apologize for the lack of response you have experienced and > say that we are working actively and aggressively to correct these > shortcomings. We do appreciate your feedback and we are addressing > exactly those points to which you referred. I have addresses just about everyone and anything. You say you can only apologize but that is just about pathetic. You should be saying "I am reporting these problems to my superiors, and suggesting some alternatives.. aside from that, what else can I do for you?". That is business 101.. nothing too complicated. I have never even received that until the day I closed my one account. > Is there anything I can do for you at this point? I don't think so. This is the second time I have gotten good service. Both AFTER I closed my account. I talked vox with another customer service manager that day, and she was very helpful and very friendly. I made a comment to her and I will repeat it to you. Had I received this good of service anywhere along the way, I would still be paying for both accounts, and still recommending your service. Like I told her, I know for sure I have brought 75 customers to you. I used to be a manager of the computer techs in a computer store, and now I am college instructor. My word is the bible to newcomers to the net. If I say 'netcom', then they will get an account from you. I have mentioned this before.. I figure that alone would make someone appreciate me and the business I brought you. Despite that I have been abused by this service.