Use Google to get results

June 18 2007 by Ellen Roseman

It’s easy is to find consumer information on the Internet. You may think you’re the only one in the world having a problem with your car, computer, fridge or cell phone provider. But do a search and you’ll find others in the same position.

Here are some of the best complaint sites I found:
My3cents.com, ConsumerAffairs.com and the new Consumer Reports discussion forums.

Suppose you’re stuck in voicemail jail. You’re always talking to a call centre and no one will give you the name and number of a supervisor or senior executive. As a result, you can’t escalate your complaint to a higher level. Don’t despair. Google the company’s name and look for press releases, which often have names of numbers of company honchos, plus media contacts. Contact the media contact and ask how to reach a real person.

Today, I talked to a reader about her Internet service provider, 3Web.com. It had cancelled her service as requested but refused to send the promised refund. She kept calling and writing and getting nowhere.

I searched for 3Web complaints and found a discussion forum at CanadianISP.com It didn’t take long to find the email address for the company president. I told her to write to him and say I was watching the case. Within minutes, literally minutes, she had an email from him saying he’d get her that refund ASAP. (See Elizabeth’s story below.)

It’s easier to get redress when you can use the Internet to find others with similar complaints and reach senior executives by phone or email. I wish everyone would learn these techniques. Please tell me how you use the Net to pursue your battles.

6 comments

  1. Sandy

    Jun 24 2008

    I have had a similar horror story from 3web. When I signed up, they contacted Bell to cancel my phone number and then forgot to send me the equipment. When the equipment finally arrived, they forgot to enter the MAC address into the system. Finally after a month with no phone and a whopping cell phone bill, I got my phone working. Seven months later, the rental modem dies and it takes 3 weeks to find the problem and wait for a new modem. Took months after that to get the refund I was promised. Each time it was literally taking hours to reach anyone in customer support. Despite asking several times, I could never get manager or supervisor on the phone.

    I finally cancelled my service and tried to send the modem back. After endless phone calls where I couldn’t reach anyone on support yet again, no information to be found on their website and many unanswered emails, I gave up. Never recieved a bill or letter from them until 8 months later a collection agency mailed me wanting over $300 but no indication what it was for. Finally reached someone at 3web Billing department only to be told that it was for the modem and they didn’t want it back, they wanted the money. (the published purchase price for the modem was only $100 on thier site) How am I suppose to return something when I don’t know where to return it to and they make it impossible to reach them? Something tells me they never wanted the modem back in the first place and this was one last grab at more cash from a customer they had already lost.

    I checked out the website you mentioned but couldn’t find the email address for the president (he might have had it removed after more of these emails!) Any chance I could get the email address?

    thanks,

  2. Jeff

    Jul 11 2008

    I have to add my story to this list as well. I’m currently in the exact same position as Sandy.

    I cancelled my 3Web service in August of 2007 because I was moving from Toronto to London. 3web continued to bill me after my cancellation in August for two months, even though I had cancelled my service online, over the phone and sent an email requesting cancellation.

    I finally spoke to James in the 3Web customer service department 24-OCT-2007. I requested my service cancelled, account closed, 2 months overbilling returned and an Address and Return Authorization for the cable modem.

    James told me that he would follow up on these matters; that he would send my billing dispute to their accounting department and that I would hear word back within 6 weeks. I updated my contact information: address, telephone number and email address with James to ensure they had the correct information on file.

    I received no response from 3Web.

    I attempted following up 6 weeks later to the day. I started calling 3Web customer service on 05-DEC-2007 and could not get through. I would be put on hold and then after 20 minutes or so my call would be dropped. I attempted this repeatedly over the next six weeks.

    Finally at the end of December, I attempted to make contact with 3Web’s head office in Ottawa and left a voicemail at the main switchboard mailbox requesting someone follow up with my complaint. Again I received no response.

    At the beginning of 2008, I let the matter drop as I had no means of contacting 3Web. I gave up on ever receiving any refund for my overbilled service and continued to maintain/store the cable modem.

    Fast forward to June 2008. I receive a letter from RECOVERCORP in Toronto demanding payment for my delinquent account of $112.97. I call Recovercorp and learn that 3Web has sent my account to collections for having not returned the cable modem.

    I was never provided ANY information regarding the return process for the modem.

    I was never contacted by 3web after requesting a return address and shipping address

    I was never billed for the modem, nor did I receive an invoice for said item.

    Melissa at Recovercorp told me that if I did not pay this amount, they would send this collections to the credit bureaus and that it would show up on my Credit Report. I contacted a Transunion CSR who informed me that a disputed account should not be informed to the Credit Bureaus and that if this matter did appear on my report I should open an investigation.

    The purpose of my credit report is not to act as leverage in a dispute. It is to report fair and accurate information on my credit history. Without any means to have returned the modem or even paid for it before collections, I was never given the option to close this matter with 3Web. Sending this ordeal to collections is adding insult to injury.

    I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, even though 3Web is not a member. It is important to note that 3web appears on both the BBB’s warning list and the watch list of the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Affairs. I have also started a grievance with the Ministry.

    Unfortunately for 3Web, I was a happy customer up until October of 2007. While I did not require high speed internet access at my new address, I would have gladly returned to using their service on my next move. Additionally I have recommended 3Web’s service to both friends and family (which I now, unfortunately, regret having done).

    Regardless of a cost savings at the onset of using 3Web’s service, saving 5 dollars a month (which is a wash, due to having been overbilled for 2 months) was NOT worth the hassle on closing my account.

    I STRONGLY CAUTION ANYONE THINKING OF USING 3WEB’S SERVICE TO DO AS ELLEN SUGGESTS: SEARCH THE INTERNET FOR CUSTOMER REVIEWS AND COMPLAINTS BEFORE SIGNING UP FOR THIS SERVICE!

  3. Steven

    Oct 17 2008

    I had exactly the same experience with 3Web as Jeff. I ordered 3Web internet service in April for a friend going to stay in my apartment for a few months. The modem was shipped and it was installed by a Rogers technician on April 17.

    I did not have a computer in my apartment at the time of the installation, as only my parents were living in the apartment. I brought a laptop with me to test the internet connection and it was working just after the installation.

    I didn’t use the internet service untill my friend arrived on April 30. I found the internet connection was not working.

    My friend and I called 3Web technical support more than 10 times from April 30 to May 5. The 3web support person just opened a ticket for my problem and could not provide any reason for the problem and could not say when the service could be restored.

    My friend could not wait any longer without an internet service, so I called 3web to cancel and switch to Rogers. I also asked for refund for the service fee they charged on my credit card. The 3web representative didn’t tell me how to return the internet modem and asked me to contact the billing department for the refund.

    I couldn’t find the phone number of the billing department from the website and sent an email to myaccount@3web.com to ask for the refund. 3web charged my credit card for the second month’s service fee on May 2, just before I asked to cancel the service on May 5.

    I didn’t get any reply from 3Web for a few months and the modem was kept in my home with no use. I was waiting a notification from 3web to tell me how to return the modem. I thought they would mail me a package to ship the modem back, as Bell did for me previously.

    On Oct. 15, I got a phone call from a collection agency that asked me to pay $126 for the price of the modem because 3web hadn’t received the modem. The collection agency told me that if I did not pay this amount, they would send this collections to the credit bureaus and that it would show up on my Credit Report for 7 years.

    Without any means to return the modem or even pay for it before collections, I was never given the option to close this matter with 3Web.

    I told the collection agency I didn’t want to pay for the modem and I wanted to return it to 3web, as I did not have the obligation to buy it.

    I called 3web billing department on Oct. 17. The representative told me my account has been written off and I cannot return the modem now. I can only contact the collection agency, not 3web. I asked to talk to the manager and she told me there is no manager there and hung up my call.

    This is the worse experience I ever have with a Canadian company. I will file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and Ontario Ministry of Consumer Affairs. I will also let all my friends know my experience with 3web and caution them of using 3web’s service.

  4. Jeyam K

    Jun 16 2009

    I have a high speed internet and Home phone service with CIA since December. When I talk to the agent, he tells me there will be $39.95 plus tax only. But now they are charging me $39.95 +$4.95 +tax.

    When I spoke to the customer service, they don’t give the right answer. So I prefer to switch to the cable line from CIA. But before I get the installation, they were charging me almost $200 from my credit card. I called the customer service again and they don’t give me the right answer.

    Why do they charge this much money? I told the guy that I’m going to keep the DSL line and theys hould refund back all those money, whatever they received from my credit card.

    The guy told me it will take a month. I already told them last month not to take any more money from my credit card. But they still take it.

    This is what I don’t like about the CIA. It is like stealing money from me. I am very, very disappointed. So, please kindly refund my money immediately and fix my call waiting line, which doesn’t work and internet is very slow.

  5. Steve

    Mar 15 2010

    My story is identical to Jeff’s and Steven’s. I was fortunate I guess that my credit card happened to come up for it’s 3 year expiry date in November of 2009 the month after I had cancelled service at 3web. In February I get the letter from RecoverCorp and the call from Melissa at RecoverCorp.

    I did however contact the 3Web billing dept and after many attempts, and even sitting listening to the music for almost 2 hours (Yup I sat there with the speaker phone on while I did some work) I finally got hold of someone. He gave me the mailing address where to send the modem back and I sent it via Canadpost with signature requirment and tracking number and it was confirmed delivered early march and signed for. I informed Melissa of all of this and that I considered the matter closed. Lo and behold on March 11 2010 there’s a voice message from her not sure yet what this is about but I will be informing her that they’re not getting a dime! It’s now Monday march 15th and I wil lbe calling her …

    Steve