The sordid tale begins on September 27, 2003. Actually, I guess it really began in late December, 2002, when an evil company in California purchased the building in which I was living. This accentuated step came to fruition as the building came to an increased level of disrepair and disarray, as the months since the quiet purchase occurred. This steady and noticable decline of the Bellerive prompted me, and my new roommate, Brian, to get serious about a new place to live.
At about the same time that the building was sold, we switched our internet provider from cable to DSL, provided by another evil California company, called Covad. Anxious about getting off a cable connection, we were treated to very poor customer service, and a spotty connection, at best. Well, as you may or may not know, the user is required to agree to a one-year service contract, when receiving the luxury of having internet for $70 a month.
With our spotty, expensive new service, we stayed at the Bellerive for the remainder of our lease term, which ended at the end of September, 2003. In the months leading up to the always-too-far-off termination of our lease, Brian and I got excited about other places to live, and the thought of having an attentive management staff that takes resident problems seriously. With this in mind, we both agreed on moving into a wonderful two-bedroom apartment under the management of New Quality Hill apartments, a stone's throw from the heart of Kansas City's downtown.
With all this in mind, we excitedly began calling bill-collectors, to update our addresses, and move service to the new location. All of these were easy, except for Covad. They first told me, over the phone, that there would be no trouble at all, and I wouldn't have to experience any downtime, whatsoever, but that I'd need to call back when I physically live at the new location. This sounded a little fishy to me, but I was busy with the move, and didn't give it any further thought, until the next time I called. They proceeded to tell me that essentially, they would have to disconnect my old account, cancel it, and graciously forgive the $250 early disconnection fee, on account that I have always been such a good sport with paying the bills on time, combined with the fact that I wanted them to be my provider at the new address. I agreed to this, but thought it was a rather heavy-handed way of doing a customer move. By the time we got internet access working at our new address, we had been doing without for over a week.
A couple of weeks later, I loaded the account manager webpage from work, and noticed that they had stuck me with a new contract termination date, a year from early October, 2003. I angrily called them, and said that there is a mistake, and that my termination date should be on or about December 10th of 2003. They maintained, however, that the End User License Agreement(EULA) that I agreed to(and regrettably didn't pore over in painstaking detail) stated that my having moved qualified as an early termination of service, and that because of this, I am not the same John Kelly that was a customer only weeks earlier, at 214 East Armour Blvd. They stated that furthermore, because of technical limitations of their billing system, the move couldn't have been done in any other way.
Frustrated, I looked at Covad's website, for contact information for someone higher up than anyone I was able to talk to by calling customer service, and spotted a description of Beth Lackey, Senior VP of Customer Operations. Predictably, no contact email was displayed, but I got an idea. On their main "About Covad" page, there were a couple of media contact people listed, with email addresses displayed under their names. Kathleen Greene was firstname.lastname@example.org. So, I composed an email to email@example.com:
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2003 09:36:42 -0500 (EST)
From: John Kelly [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Poor Customer Service
My name is John Kelly, and I have been a Covad customer since just before
Christmas of last year. During my contract, the building where I lived
took a drastic turn for the worse, under new management, and I moved to a
new apartment, in another part of town. In this transition, I wanted to
keep my Covad service, and over the course of several phone calls, I was
eventually informed(in contrast to previous calls) that to keep my Covad
service, the service at my old address would have to be disconnected, and
an entirely new account would have to be established at the new address.
You know all of this policy, I'm sure, and your department deals with it
all the time. What I object to is that each call I made gave me slightly
altered information, with the transition going from easy to difficult. It
went from, "Sure Mr. Kelly, we can just change your address and you can
keep the same account, but just call us when you move into the new place,"
all the way to, "You are in breach of your contract. We have to send you
an entirely new DSL install kit, and bill you for it."
Besides all of this, there were myriad accounting errors(I continued to
be billed for service at my old address, until I had to call and ask why),
mixed with spotty service(outages are still daily occurences). Even with
all the problems I am having, I still would still have recommended Covad
to friends. What is the most ridiculous is that for simply changing my
address, I am stuck with this spotty service with bad(but probably
circumstantial) customer service.
A breach of contract usually refers to someone ending service prematurely,
and ending their relationship with the company, as a client. I didn't do
this. I wanted to continue using Covad as my ISP, and the terms "breach of
contract," and "early termination," are fabrications of Covad's terms of
policy, and in my case, have chased me away from using your company's
service any more. Come December, I will pay the early termination fee, and
find a new ISP. In this case, your company's policy has cost them almost a
full year's worth of subscription, a customer, and all the praise that
they used to get from this customer.
Your company needs to put some common sense into its terms of service. I
haven't experienced anything so painful in the course of this move. I hope
that you take this letter seriously, and not as just another number to
Kansas City, MO
816-my phone number
Almost as soon as I sent the email, I received an Out-of-Office Autoreply from Beth Lackey, saying she'd be gone for a week or two. Whether that was true or not, she got in touch with one of her subordinates, by the name of Theresa, to get in touch with me, and try to make me happy. Well, she failed. The only thing she could have done to make me happy was to let me end my relationship with Covad on the original termination date in December, 2003. But no, her plan was to direct me back to their rotten customer service department, and have them go through turning off the modem and turning it back on again, while I frustratedly explain every detail of my problem to each new person I talk to.
Well, I had no intention of sitting on hold, waiting for them to get around to helping me out, so I settled for the crappy service for a while, until December 15th.
Rewind to September. The move process was very painless with SBC, our phone company. The line was hot when we walked in to set down the first boxes, while moving. But, as weeks passed, we still hadn't received a bill from them for service at our new address. More weeks passed, and finally, one day the phone rang, and Brian picked it up. I never pick up the landline phone, ever. If anyone, including bill-collectors, have something to say to me, they can leave a message. But Brian picks up the phone, and somehow endures sales pitches and crap calls, with the foolish belief that someone will call us on our weeks-old landline, instead of the mobile phone numbers we've had for years.
Anyway, Brian picked up the phone, and it was SBC, saying that we owe them money for our service, and that the account is past due. He handed me the phone, and the rather snotty operator on the other end didn't seem to believe me when I told her that since we've lived here, nary a bill has arrived from SBC. I said, "Bill me, then I'll mail you a check, but I will not give you any bank account or credit card information over an unsecured public phone line. Put out, the snotty operator hung up with me, and more weeks passed with no sign of anything from SBC, until on December 15th, when, one morning, I was sick, working from home, and the internet connection died. I picked up the landline, and it was dead too. After a couple calls, it turns out SBC had disconnected us permanently, so I had to make some calls to get our phone service, but more importantly, our DSL service back up.
The phoneline was back in service by early afternoon that day. The DSL connection was a different matter. A full two weeks have now passed, and still there is no DSL connection, and even worse, the people at Covad Customer Service can't tell me anything useful. What they can do for me is apologize. I have heard more apologies than anything else when I've called them. They honestly don't know when I'll be able to have internet service turned back on. So, frustrated, I called Time-Warner, and got Roadrunner. They sent someone out within 20 hours, and had me up and running within 15 minutes of walking in my door. My next priority, though, is to get bahua dot com hosted on a real webhost, that will either allow the use of my home-written webpage software, or I'll have to figure out a way to get this site working in perl or PHP. Either way, I think it'll be a while, but yeah, Death to Covad.