How can they treat customers that way? Part Two

Recruiting Animal, a long-time blogger, asked me if I was interested in doing a story about Facebook. The social networking site has disabled people’s accounts without warning if they tried to use it for commercial purposes. Harry Joiner, a recruiter, tried to invite his entire network of 4,600 names to join Facebook and link to him.

“I can see the concern about spam invitations,” says the Animal, “but to withdraw service in an insensitive manner is just plain arrogant.”

My response? Companies do this all the time. They make the rules and enforce the rules and customers have to play along if they want the product or service. Check the emails below from readers whose Internet service was cut off by Rogers because they were using the wrong routers. Again, little or no warning, just punitive action.

Huffington Post, a well-known U.S. blog, picked up the Facebook story this week. And if you check the comments from readers, most are sympathetic to Facebook. But the writer stands by her argument, which I think has merit, that Harry deserved a warning.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

9 thoughts on “How can they treat customers that way? Part Two”

  1. Wow – and I thought I was miserable using Sympatico! I feel sorry for you Rogers clients.

    Regarding Facebook – I think Harry should have at least received a warning. I left a longer explanation with my reasoning as a comment on the other blog you mention.

    I had almost the same experience with (owned by Yahoo!) The difference was that I DID have permission to use the service for commercial purposes. I even spent money having a developer create a application that allowed me to upload our last minute training seminar deals automatically to the service. It was working great and then one day ‘poof’ our listing disappeared. With no warning at all. When I inquired I was told that an Upcoming user had complained that I was posting to many events and flooding the RSS feed.

    I didn’t seem to matter that we were getting more than 400 inquiries a month from Upcoming users, one or two complaints was all it took.

    And it also didn’t seem to matter that the actual events that caused the problems were ‘free’ events that we had posted as a favor for someone else. When we did it we thought we were adding value to the Upcoming community.

    To be fair, Upcoming was very polite and they did tell us that if we removed all the free events and limited the number of new events they would think about reinstating our account.

    But really, would it have hurt to have sent an email first inquiring, or at least letting me know, instead of just shutting down my account?

    It’s only good common customer service sense.

    But we the consumers are at fault, by believing that we are only one customer and our business doesn’t mean anything we are creating our own self fulfilling prophecy. We need to start standing up for ourselves and our economic power.

  2. Thanks for the heads up about Rogers. Geez, what’s a customer plotting an escape from Bell supposed to do?

    There’s money to be made for someone willing to start a company and actually offer customer service at reasonable prices. Cogeco can’t help as they say Toronto is “run by Rogers”

    After more problems with Bell Shitpatico this week, rude staff, Indian tech support that didn’t know what I was talking about and 2 days without Internet service – I’m history. Cancelled my service for Internet and cable. Will be cancelling my home phone once I move and get settled in.

  3. My problem starts on October 18, 2007 at approx 9am.

    I purchased an Epson printer (Model CX5400) in December of 2004. It is one of the “All in One” printers with a scanner, copier and ink jet printer. I have maintained it well and even took the time to register it when it was purchased. It has served me well as a printer and I have only ever used the OEM ink cartridges. I believe in supporting the manufacturer as they sell the printers at low (and sometimes negative) margins to make their profit on the ink, just like the razor blade companies.

    After returning from a trip this week, I discovered an error on my printer – “Scanner Error”. The printer still worked but the scanner would not. I proceeded to look up the support on Epson’s web site and followed the instructions provided. Had this led me to a message that told me to take it to a service center, or perhaps provided a listing of service centers, I would have probably just chalked it up as time for a new printer or dropped it off for an estimate. I paid about $300 for the printer but comparable models are now available for about $100. Sadly, that is not what happened.

    After walking through some basic instructions on the Epson web site, I was prompted to contact an Epson technical support representative to resolve this problem. I recorded my model number and serial number as requested by the web site and proceeded to contact the number provided (905-709-3839). After answering questions to identify my name, address, phone number and email, the gentleman (Rex) began to ask a series of questions that were remarkably identical to the trouble shooting I had answered on the web site.
    This I had expected to ensure that I had actually done what they had asked, but I did not expect to be asked some rather unrelated questions such as “have you tried another power outlet?”. At the end of the questions, when I expected the actual troubleshooting would begin (8min into the call) I was told I should bring the printer to a service center.

    Although the tech people may not actually be tech people (I confirmed this after waiting on hold for slightly more than 8 minutes to speak with a manager “Leticia”), I did expect at least some level of additional troubleshooting of my issue. I was also very annoyed and put out by the fact that Epson has used this technique to gather my personal information and not to actually help resolve my issue. I could have very easily been provided a list of service centers by the web site and not spent almost 20 minutes of my time on a long distance call during business hours to simply be told nothing additional. Leticia did point out, however, that Rex had provided additional support information by referring me to a service center. Not worth the 20 minutes and the sacrifice of my personal information to an overseas call center.

  4. Rogers has a static IP address and Bell Canada has a dynamic IP. Since Rogers is static, if a virus gets in there, no way it can come out.

    A static IP address is a number (in the form of a dotted quad) that is assigned to a computer by an Internet service provider (ISP) to be its permanent address on the Internet. Computers use IP addresses to locate and talk to each other on the Internet, much the same way people use phone numbers to locate and talk to one another on the telephone. When you want to visit, your computer asks a domain name system (DNS) server (think telephone information operator) for the correct dotted quad number (think phone number) for and your computer uses the answer it receives to connect to the server.

  5. On Sept. 27th, I was at Best Buy (Dundas & Bay) to purchase the Sharp Aquos 1080p 52″ (LC52D64U) along with the current promotion of the $250 credit for trade-in on an old TV. I have noticed that both Future Shop and Audio/Video 2001 have LC52D64U for $1,699 and $1,688, respectively.

    I have attempted a price match, a TV representive (Chez) accepted the price match, but declined to honor the TV trade-in for $250 credit, claiming they are two promotions (TV trade-in and price match).

    I politely stated that a price guarantee is a store policy, not a promotion. Chez continued to refuse, then checked his system and said that they don’t have LC52D64U in stock. I replied that is okay and I don’t mind waiting.

    Then I pointed out that in its flyer, Best Buy has an in-stock policy that guarantees stock availability or a further credit of $50 and free shipping. Chez responded that he could offer free shipping but not the $50 credit. I asked why. Chez was not able to give me a satisfactory response and came back with a manger (Rahul).

    Rahul started off by asking me, “Why don’t you buy it from Audio/Video 2001?” I was shocked at his attitude and the way he questioned a customer. Still, I politely replied that the location is convenient and I have liked the service from Best Buy. I asked Rahul if the Best Buy policy and promotion will be honored. Rahul rudely replied that he doesn’t need to honor anything. He stated that it is not a law and I can take it or leave it.

    I understand the store has the power to make the final decision, but I don’t understand why it would set a policy that if it is not going to be honored. Maybe I have such a high expectation for Best Buy. If that is the case, then my apology.

    The same night, I called Best Buy to ask if the promotion (TV trade-in) excluded the price guarantee. Sammy was very friendly and patiently serviced my order. Although I didn’t get the trade-in discount, because Sammy told me it is in-store only, I still found the service from Sammy was so much pleasant then I had experienced at the store.

  6. I agree harry should have at least received a warning. But I cant agree with the majority in that Facebook was wrong. They can delete whatever account they like and should not feel the need to explain this.

  7. Great post, Ellen. Although you wrote this a while ago, I know several people who were recently affected by having their accounts closed and permanently banned for supposedly using Fbook for commercial purposes. I guess in 4 years, nothing has changed. 🙁

  8. Thanks for writing on this, Ellen. This is the kind of thing we all see every day on Facebook and to be singled out without even being given a warning is just mad.

    Big companies like Facebook really need to ease their grip on power and not just treat every situation in black and white.

    Even if what this person was doing is breaking the rules, they should have at least got some kind of warning before being banned. Maybe they didn’t even know that what they were doing was wrong.

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