Updated August 23rd, 2004
Do you have your very own event to share? See below for the details!
- EVENT CompuServe
- Extended Investigation
Read CompuServe or CompuScam: An ISP Plagued by Incompetence. It is a report that spanned a year-long investigation into CompuServe's many problems. Reading this report can save you hundreds of dollars and a considerable amount of aggravation.
- Subcontracting Issue
Tony Sutton (Tony@hypertony.co.ukNOSPAM), a System Operator (sysop) at CompuServe, went on record telling us about CompuServe's many subcontractors. CompuServe uses subcontractors to handle its rebates and interactive forums [Glenbrook Systems, Inc.].
These subcontractors are brought in to do work for CompuServe. The need for these companies has two parts: it is most likely a result of CompuServe's speedy expansion and these companies form a protective legal barrier.
CompuServe, like other Internet businesses, have done vary well these past few years. Fast expansion due to the demand for online providers has helped in CompuServe's favor, tipping its hand to move toward subcontractors. However, these smaller companies also serve CompuServe by forming a protective barrier. When legal problems arise, CompuServe is able to point its finger at these smaller companies, making CompuServe customers feel powerless.
CompuServe lures people to ask for their services by providing a $400 rebate on the purchase of a new computer in return for a 3-year service agreement. The agreement costs $21.99/month, which brings the total sum over 3-years to nearly $800!
Customers enter into this agreement not knowing that CompuServe may be unable to handle the Internet demand an offer like this could potentially generate. If a customer keeps the CompuServe service despite the inability to access the Internet, this customer will land up paying money to CompuServe without receiving service. If a customer cancels CompuServe's service, CompuServe will stick this customer with a huge penalty called a "cancellation" fee. We believe that this is an unethical business practice. [Read a report by CNET's Staff Writer, Stephanie Miles: How much do rebates save in long run?]
We suggest that you reconsider taking CompuServe up on its offer. However, if it's too late and you are suffering from problems with CompuServe's services, do the following:
- Document your case. Keep an accurate list of the times you spend trying to log on to CompuServe.
- Communicate with CompuServe's technical support via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via telephone at 1-800-848-8990. Be patient, articulate and firm. When you contact someone, note the time and their name.
- If you decide to cancel service, do so quickly. If they insist on charging you a "cancellation" fee, contact The Better Business Bureau [http://www.bbb.org/, email@example.com], The Federal Trade Commission [http://www.ftc.gov/] and any other business-watchdog you can find.
- Keep us informed of your particular case and send us the details surrounding your encounter with CompuServe. Also, place a quick note on our Bulletin Board.
As an example of how one should detail a case, read a letter that was sent to Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, and CompuServe by Tina C. compliments of The Liberator. We hope that it may help you win your fight against fraudulent business tactics.
- EVENT Quarles Petroleum
A Virginia homeowner blames Quarles Petroleum Incorporated (of Fredericksburg, Virginia) for failing to rectify an oil spill on his property. The homeowner, Jack Runyon, wrote to us and said in part, "After I put up the Web page, Quarles threatened to sue me, but then started offering money if I would take the page down..." Click here to view the site for yourself.
- EVENT Coca-Cola and Oasis Manufacturing
According to Electronic Product Development, Inc., companies like Chubb Insurance, Coca-Cola and Oasis Manufacturing have been less than helpful after a fire destroyed the business. EPD spokesman Dan Judd claims the aforementioned companies have yet to help him sort out the mess, leaving him and his business out to dry. As a result, he has had to reluctantly fire all but one of his employees due to lost work. To learn more about this important story, click here.
These cases suggest that even big-name businesses leave much to be desired. Possibly due to mismanagement, poorly trained customer service representatives, or an arrogance caused by a lack of competition, do not place a disproportional amount of weight on any company. Research and word-of-mouth should be the indicators used to drive consumers to particular businesses.
As a public service, The Liberator will maintain well documented cases against inappropriate products/services by businesses of all sizes, big or small. A short description of the event along with a link to a website, if applicable, will remain on these pages until all matters have been adequately settled. There will be no fee for this service but reverse links are mandatory. Send us e-mail explaining events by using the dynamic e-mail button at the top-right of this page.