A Letter Sent to CompuServe, The Federal Trade Commission and The Better Business Bureau by Tina C., a Former CompuServe User
A Fraudulent Business Technique Exposed
compliments of The Liberator

To CompuServe, The Federal Trade Commission and The Better Business Bureau:

I am having problems with CompuServe, an Internet service provider. Here are the details:

August 8th --
I entered a three-year agreement with CompuServe at $22/month for three years.

August 9th --

  1. I could not gain access to CompuServe for 2.5 hours. I dialed different numbers. I successfully tested the computer's ability by gaining access to another service provider.
  2. I could not gain access to CompuServe's technical support after waiting 30 minutes on the telephone.

August 10th --

  1. I cancelled my account with CompuServe because CompuServe was not able to meet their end of the contract by providing Internet Service. I spoke with Rocky Buchanin from CompuServe at 8:25 a.m. He informed me that I had to pay a cancellation fee even though I cancelled service within 48-hours due to their own inability to provide me with service. Unhappy with this settlement, I asked to speak with his direct supervisor, Dennis Green, who he claimed was on vacation. He did not allow me to learn when his supervisor would be back nor did he give me a number or address to reach him directly despite me insisting multiple times throughout the civil conversation.
  2. I spoke with the credit card company that I used to sign up service with CompuServe at 8:30 a.m. They told me that no monthly fees or any other fees have been posted to my account by CompuServe at this time. However, they told me that I have a 48 window to cancel the contract without fault. I told them that CompuServe insisted on charging a cancellation fee even though I was canceling so soon after signing up with them due to their inability to keep their half of the contract by providing service.
  3. I contacted both the Office of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau through their website formletters and supplied them with this information circa 10:00 a.m.
  4. I contacted the offices in #3 again via e-mail circa 10:30 a.m.

Proposed Settlement --
I understand that CompuServe is a business and must rely on monies to stay in business and should receive payment for services rendered. CompuServe should also understand that they are entitled to monies that are solely based on these services, nothing more.

Since the contract had a time commitment of 36 months at $21.95/month, the total service would have added up to $791.64. However, CompuServe provided me with 2 days of horrible service [or no service at all]. Therefore the money CompuServe has coming to them should be a pro-rated amount of 2/1095 ths the total amount -- 2 days out of a 1095-day contract -- which would bring the amount due to $1.45. I understand that CompuServe must spend time opening and closing my account and time equates to money. However, I too had to spend a much greater time on the phone with their customer service department and the time I spent equates to money lost.

Summary --
I have tried in good faith to explain CompuServe's inability to provide me with service -- their half of the contract -- to their customer service department, to no avail. They insist on charging me a "cancellation" fee. I had to ask for a supervisor, Rocky Buchanin, who was of little help and insisted on the "cancellation" fee. I should not have to pay a "cancellation" fee but would willingly pay a pro-rated fee for the used portion of my three-year agreement.

Fraudulent Charge --
The cancellation fee is fraudulent because the buyer [me] enters a 3-year service agreement without knowledge of CompuServe's ability to handle the demand and provide actual service. CompuServe entices buyers to sign up with their service by issuing a $400 rebate on a computer if the buyers agree to this 3-year agreement. However, due to the demand generated by this offer, CompuServe is unable to keep their half of the bargain and provide service to all of their customers. I suspect that they planned on their inability to handle the demand, but instead of preparing their systems to handle the flood of customers, they placed a "cancellation" fee in the contracts they offer to guarantee revenue whether or not the flood of customers stay with their 3-year agreements. Either way, CompuServe profits without the need to provide actual service.

Personal Information --
Tina C.
[full name, address, telephone #, e-mail address snipped]

I can provide phone documentation from my telephone company that will justify my frustration due to CompuServe's inability to provide service. If there is any further information that you need to process my complaint, do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your much needed help.

Tina C.

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