The domain, or, why I hate Earthlink today

I began using a primary email address through a domain called skyenet many years ago, which I think sprang out of Michiana FreeNet (which is no more, and also wasn’t exactly free). After a few years skyenet’s domain was sold to another domain, myVine, which had crappy service, but I maintained it because many people knew that original email address. It was a hassle to get things to work since I had a different domain than most of the rest of their customers, but I became a relative expert at setting up email clients as a result. (Just try not using a Microsoft product and finding help on a tech support page.) Eventually I stopped using myVine’s dialup service and graduated to a real connection through another party, but I was able to maintain the skyenet email address for all these years for five bucks a month through myVine.

Well, around the beginning of October, I got what I thought was junk mail from Earthlink that said “Welcome to Earthlink!” on the glossy envelope. For some reason I opened it, but I thought it was yet another sales pitch with free setup CD to use their ISP (I don’t appreciate junk mail, nor free CDs, because if I wanted your service I’d sign up ONLINE.) No, it was a letter saying my new email account had been set up with them and congratulations! Apparently they bought myVine as well, so now I’m buried under yet another layer of domain sales and complication.

What drives me bonkers is that neither myVine nor Earthlink bothered to send me an email (or I guess myVine could have sent postal mail; at least I knew I was their customer) to announce this transfer of accounts. Then the myVine website disappeared, and my web email portal was also gone, so I couldn’t get email that way. My email client at home was still successfully downloading messages for awhile after that but eventually couldn’t connect to the server. Had I not opened that junk-looking mail, I’d have no idea that my domain was sold and that they didn’t just go out of business and take my money–I had a year of service paid in advance. At least I was able to get my email working again after some tech chat time, but I did lose all the mail that had been on that myVine/skyenet server (despite being assured by Earthlink it would all be there).

I believe Google is going to save the world, and I do have a gmail account now which is handling my other main email address, which is associated with my website, blog, etc. Meanwhile I had accounts for rabbit rescue forwarding to skyenet and accounts for the blog forwarding to gmail. But due to something stupid about the way our sbcglobal DSL works, I have to use just the blog server outgoing mail server, so any mail sent from home (even from skyenet when it worked) looked like it was coming from the other email account, so people hit reply and I couldn’t find their responses. And spam controls on each domain added to the hidden email messes. So, I figured I just needed to make everything go to gmail somehow and I’d be fine forever. Right? I was fine with ending my relationship with this skyenet email address since it would never get better. Just rip off the BandAid.

The problem has been extricating myself from the probably hundreds of online accounts I’ve created over the ten-plus years with the skyenet mailing address. I don’t remember them all. XM? Credit cards? School loans? Banking? Insurance? Gobs of message boards, from bunnies to bikes to diesel Volkswagens? Tons of online retailers? Surveys, blog comments, legal advice, online newspapers, photo accounts, magazine subscriptions, class reunions and alumni sites, tax prep sites, government accounts? I’ll never remember nor find them all. In the meantime I have moved and so anyone who really needed to contact me would no longer have a phone number that worked either. More recent accounts have been updated, but I’m sure there’s some old contact info in various places I’ve forgotten that might actually be important.

This sounds like a good business opportunity: pay someone to update your contact info EVERYWHERE.

I have been updating to my new, more reliable email one by one as I notice the old references, and I had planned to maintain the skyenet address long enough to catch stragglers (I was thinking a year!). But suddenly this week, after two months of it working fine in an Earthlink webmail portal: no incoming skyenet email! What a shocker.

So today I’ve been off work and I chatted with two tech support people online, who could not help me but gave me a bad phone number to call. Then I found the letter Earthlink sent when they took on my poor domain and called the phone number on that. The recording said it was help for former myVine customers! Sounded promising, but after transferring through three more tech support people on the phone, I was put on hold while they contacted a supervisor and a few minutes later the phone disconnected. (Note: using a landline; it disconnected from THEIR end.) I called back and they had no way to get me back to the last person, so I started again, put on hold again so they could consult supervisor, lovely hold music (Brandenburg concerto–I played that in middle school!) for a long time and then the hold music ended. Fifteen minutes later while I was still “connected” but had no life or sound on the line, I hung up. Note that Earthlink does indeed own the skyenet.net domain until mid-2010, but everyone I talked to said there was no record of that domain on my account nor on their lists of acquired domains. One person said I was supposed to just use Earthlink addresses now. HELLO, the point of this was to maintain the original domain to receive email, which this letter from Earthlink clearly states I will be able to do. If they were going to abandon an acquired domain, some notice would have given me an opportunity to do my switching faster.

I do still receive email at the Earthlink-named domain version of my not-requested new email provider (in the same webmail sessions where the old skyenet emails still appear). What do I get? Invoices! Earthlink is great at debiting my old myVine credit every month for the privilege of not getting my email.

I really think no one can figure out what’s going on because they’re just phone answerers, not anyone actually running servers and dealing with domain names. It’s just incredibly frustrating to have no where to turn and no one who can identify, let alone fix, the problem. At this point the diminishing returns are prompting me to just attempt a refund and forget the whole thing.

Total wasted time today: about three hours. Thanks to all the times on hold and a cordless phone, I did have time to take a crap, play with the dogs, buy stuff on eBay, get a package from FedEx, print a card, eat pie, read message boards, and think about what I really should be doing today.

Good thing Earthlink sent me a survey about my experience.

6 thoughts on “The domain, or, why I hate Earthlink today

  1. Hi,
    As a former Earthlink employee, I apologize to you that you had to put up with such crappy service. When I worked as a senior tech support person, when a customer had a problem, I would, if necessary, telnet right into their server and fix the problem directly. It was a fun job, I got to actually work on the backbone of the Internet itself. I learned sooo much.

    Then my job got outsourced to India where Earthlink only had to pay 2.40 an hour and no benefits. I got a small severance package and a “see ya.”

    Since then, customer “service” at Earthlink has no longer existed. You are a valued customer now, at least so long as you don’t have any issues that require someone to actually get up out of their chair and do something. That would be too expensive to do, and would cut too much into their income. (You’re right, Earthlink’s invoicing software works perfectly.)

    Best of luck with Gmail, etc.

    Jill

  2. Good Lord – what a mess! I’ve heard dodgy things about Earthlink too. Sounds like it’s time to switch to the old can & string method of communicating. 😉

  3. Ok, this explains why the email I just sent you bounced back to me. I had a question for you. I got a new TV for Christmas, so I want to get rid of my old, cathode ray, tube one that keeps turning itself back on when I turn it off. I don’t think Goodwill will take it since it’s basically broken, but I don’t want to just throw it out in the trash since I know that can be a hazard. I figured if anyone I know if Indy knows where I can recycle a TV, it would be you 🙂 If you have any idea where I can dump this thing without poisoning the water supply, let me know.

  4. Amy,
    If you’d like a laugh at Earthlink’s expense, please visit the online version of the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. My comic strip “Berserkers” during the week of 30Mar-03Apr2009 deals with my two main characters, Oda and Gort, trying to find Oda’s kidnapped wife by accessing “Jerklink Total Abcess”. Go to http://www.appeal-democrat.com/sections/comics/berserkers . You can guess how my own experiences with “Jerklink” went from that.
    Bob Tuna

  5. Pingback: Amy’s Gripping Commentary » The list

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