NetZero Customer Service - Disappointing Behavior

The concept of Customer Service is supposed to be important to all companies that provide products or services. But some companies fail in this regard, and some companies like NetZero fail miserably.

Our Church has experienced an amazing example of total lack of Customer Service, by a huge Corporation, NetZero. Since WE have had to endure these experiences, we have to worry that thousands or even millions of others might receive the same total failures by NetZero, so we thought it necessary that we describe our encounter.

NetZero had been advertising heavily on TV that they offered very low cost Internet service, and their commercials even included a reference that they were willing to allow a customer to use NetZero for an entire year, for free, before then rising to a $9.95 per month charge.

Maybe our Church is really gullible, as after asking many questions, we fell for that story. What a mistake!

This was in late March 2012. NetZero told us that even though the service would be free, they needed to charge our Church $49.00 for the small electronic device (which they called a Stick) and another $19.95 for shipping cost. I wondered how it could cost $20 to mail a tiny, one-ounce object across the country, as the Post Office and UPS and FedEx only charges a few dollars, but we agreed.

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NetZero was certainly really efficient at taking the money from our bank account. A couple days later, a package arrived, but we immediately noticed that the tape on the box had clearly been torn off and replaced with new tape. When we opened the box, we found that all the interior packing materials were also torn up and open.

We EXPECTED to get NetZero working promptly, but during the next THREE MONTHS, we never got any useful service! The REASONS for those failures were various.

Initially, we tried to CALL the toll-free Tech Service number that NetZero described in their documentation. But that number did not work, and our calls were diverted to advertising messages that were selling car insurance! Half a dozen different tries always resulted in no Tech Help and instead, advertising for products or services, none of which had anything to do with NetZero. Eventually, one of the calls to Tech Help actually went through, and I wound up (trying to) talking to a woman in India who had such a severe accent that I even needed her to repeat 'hello' three times before I knew what she had said. She also had no idea what I was talking about, so whenever she said anything, it must have been specific English phrases that she had been taught, such as regarding 'selling more bandwidth' or other things which were intended to make money for NetZero. I started to wonder if that was just another of the advertising messages. After close to half an hour of trying to communicate, she finally understood that we had received a device that was faulty, and we needed to return it to get one that worked.

So NetZero actually knew within a day or two that they had apparently re-packaged a faulty returned device and sent it out to us, where the device still did not and could not work.

But for the first two weeks, I spent many hours of my time in struggling to try to make it work. I had not then known that they had sold us a piece of garbage that could not possibly work. I also soon gave up on trying to telephone the Tech Help number, and I started instead sending in e-mails to their Tech Help.

In the 95 days which I spent considerable time in composing at least 60 different e-mails to NetZero, I never realized that they seem to have an infinite number of people who answer their e-mail. In other words, sending a specific response to the last person who sent me a question or comment, was pointless, because that person would never receive and never see my response.

Specifically, here are some of the names of NetZero Tech Help people who each sent me an e-mail during that 95 days from late March 2012 to the end of June 2012.

Cheryl Banks 4/2 Dennis Griffin 4/3 ?? 4/4 Gracie Adams 4/5 Jen Harris 4/9 Jennifer Ward 4/11 ?? 4/13 ?? 4/16 ?? 4/17 ?? 4/20 ?? 4/24 Mary B. Martin 4/25 ?? 4/30 Patty Smith 5/3 ?? 5/4 ?? 5/7 ?? 5/8

Many dozens of further attempts at communication after that, including notes from even more strangers whp never knew what we were talking about.

Jeff Parson Derrick Ramsey Maries Daniel Dexter Williams (and others)

In each case, I spent time in trying to respond to each of those 40+ e-mails I received from these various strangers at NetZero, but I eventually realized that any answer I sent in to some specific individual, never got seen by that individual, and some complete stranger would try to tell me to check the SAME basic things that I had been told to check dozens of times before by others!

After I had spent many, many hours of my time in trying to get the original faulty device to work, I spent equal hours in trying to get the replacement device to work. But for about two weeks, no one at NetZero was aware that no one there had Activated that replacement device, so I was again wasting many of my hours in trying to get something to work that could not possibly work.

This was now nearly a month of wasting at least 30 hours of my time, for absolutely pointless efforts, so this was near the end of April 2012.

But NetZero now Activated the replacement device and also added the monthly bandwidth, so very briefly, the device actually worked. But somehow, NetZero managed to send massive advertising messages to our Church's computer, so even while no one sat at the computer (except to receive two e-mail messages, one of which was from NetZero), the device stopped working again (that same afternoon) because NetZero had apparently used up the entire 200 megabytes of bandwidth, with no one even sitting at the computer! So we at least knew that the replacement device worked, but we had no way of actually using it, for an entire additional month. So we had to wait for May 27, 2012, when NetZero would again add 2oo megabytes of bandwidth.

Since e-mail uses up very little bandwidth, and this is a CHURCH computer, that is, no games or movies or surfing, we expected that as of May 27, THREE MONTHS OF WAITING TO GET ANY USEFUL SERVICE, we might finally have e-mail access.

But that was not the case. On May 27, NetZero finally added the next month's 200 megabytes of bandwidth. NO ONE WAS EVEN SITTING AT THE COMPUTER, but NetZero started itself up and over the next several hours, apparently it used up 43 megabytes of bandwidth (without anyone even being at the computer!). When a Secretary eventually sat down at the computer, she saw a threat message that told her that 78 dangerous files were now in the Church computer! She did not hesitate but she shut down the Church computer that moment, in the afternoon of May 27, and our Church has been without our computer for the five weeks after that. They realized that there was no point in any Secretaries coming in, as they did not have a safe computer to turn on. So our Church has functionally ceased to exist, as of May 27, 2012, entirely due to NetZero's incompetence.

We realize that NO company is stupid enough to INTENTIONALLY cause dangerous files to fill any customers' computers. We certainly saw that NetZero was constantly downloading advertising files in their main display page, so we suspect that a good deal of that 43 megabytes of bandwidth that got used up in those few hours were simply advertising which other companies were paying NetZero to promote. But it was clear that NetZero never bothered to check to see if the files they were downloading into our Church computer were safe or not, and we know for a fact that at least 78 of those files were dangerous files.

On June 22 (after nearly three months of having veen trying to communicate with the NetZero Tech Help people, I received a note which showed total ignorance of everything! I was asked to "describe the details of your problem". In other words, there was NO record that any of the previous communications had ever happened, and I was now expected to start over again as of late March, and apparently I was expected to again repeat all the details of all the orevious dozens of communications.

THAT message caused me to totally give up on even trying. The Church now simply wamted tp be dpne with NetZero.

THAT was a lot harder than we expected!

Our Church Board insisted on getting rid of NetZero, and also getting NetZero to pay to have our computer repaired from their caused problems. The Church Attorney was present, and he made clear that a giant corporation like NetZero never gives up money very easily. So he mentioned that he thought we were likely to have to file a Lawsuit against NetZero. So I happened to mention that possibility in an e-mail to NetZero about June 25, 2012. Amazingly, after three months of having a worthless NetZero service, NetZero first phoned us on June 27. The woman apparently had minimal access to any of those 50 e-mails or some previous attempts we had made to call in, so she expected me to describe EVERYTHING, beginning back in March. At the end of that call, she told me that she needed to get higher authority involved and that she GUARANTEED that she would call me back on the following day (6/28) at the same time (noon). I should have known better than to believe anything that anyone from NetZero said, but I wasted that whole day sitting near the telephone, waiting for her call which never came. When she also didn't call me on the following day, I send another e-mail to NetZero that described that we WERE beginning the paperwork toward filing a Lawsuit against NetZero.

The word 'lawsuit' must get their attention, as a man from NetZero called on July 2, 2012, for our second phone contact from NetZero after those 95 days of them having ignored us and our problems.

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This presentation was first placed on the Internet in July 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago