Did you ever try to terminate your InterNet service with EarthLink?

I did and it almost drove me insane.

I'd like to share that experience with you here.

The Earthlink Logo - "We Revolve Around You"

It probably would have been more accurate if it read

"We Revolve Around Your Wallet Like A Pack of Wolves"

(Click the Logo for a little history re the Moral and Ethical Boundaries of EarthLink)

I had originally signed up with NetCom way, way back - I'm not sure, maybe 10 or 15 years ago. EarthLink eventually acquired my account. I had dial-up and it suited me fine, I had no idea what I was missing.

The Earthlink service was not particularly good, the connections were frequently slow and I got dropped on a fairly predictable basis, long downloads (all downloads were long downloads with dial-up) were very difficult. But it was tolerable, and I got used to it and became complacent.

The new age finally caught up with me and I decided to get cable broadband. I got it installed but left the Earthlink ISP connection in place until I figured out who I needed to notify re changing from an ix.netcom.com email address to a cox.net address. I went into Account Settings (Thunderbird) and for the Earthlink account I set "fetch headers only", that way I know if it's an email from the legacy netcom address or my regular address.

I finally got around to trying to cancel my account with Earthlink, so I went to the website and started searching around. I found a multiple choice page that had dropdowns of "What do you want to do" or some such, I followed the prompts. This little puzzle was burning up a lot of my time, of which I had little to spare that day. But I'd put it off long enough, I wanted to get it done.

I would follow the prompts, finally get to a choice that said "Terminate my Service", hit "Go", then "You can't do that here, go <somewhere else>." I finally went to Live Chat, and the only help there was to send me to the terms of service,

After about 45 minutes of following the FAQ deadends, and the Live Chat fiasco, I got the following (Terms of Service doc off EarthLink Website):

********************** Begin Earthlink Text

Termination
Email termination of your Service will not be accepted. Please use one of the following options below.

EarthLink Main Address
Termination of Service will be accepted via registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to:

EarthLink Inc.
1375 Peachtree St., Level A
Atlanta, GA 30309

or by phone

Dial-Up: (888) EARTHLINK
DSL: (888) EARTHLINK
Cable: (888) EARTHLINK
Home Networking: (888) 829-8466
Web Hosting and/or Business Services: (800) 237-0148

********************** End Earthlink Text

Please note that your only two (2) alternatives for bailing Earthlink will be either 1) Calling them at (888) Earthlink, or 2) Sending them a certified, return-receipt letter.

Well, the letter was out of the question, so I thought I'd just call. So I did. And guess what. I call the number and get a recorded message "We are not taking calls on this number right now, please call back later." Ha! Never taking calls on that number probably, who knows. Do I have to wait an indeterminate length of time and come back and try again?

I did wait, a number of times throughout the afternoon. No change. Getting angrier and angrier each time.

I finally conceded and wrote the termination letter, being careful to fill it with my account number and invoice number, etc. so there could be no mistakes. All cut-and-paste off the actual documents.

I was furious. I was busy with other things (well, I wanted to be busy with other things, anyway), had not even enough time to get my actual work done and these jerks wanted me to write them a letter (bad enough) and, to top it all, go down and spend $5 to $10 to mail it to them from the Post Office with the same care I'd mail a tax return or a legal notification in a dispute! Ha! I was steamed! All I wanted to do was, after 10 or 15 years of paying them each month, have them stop providing me services and stop charging me. That's all.

I wrote the letter, signed it and put it in an envelope, addressed per the instructions. One more telephone try, still getting a recorded message that I interpreted as meaning "Sorry stupid, we are still not taking calls on this number, and since it's for something that will lower our revenue we probably never will be taking them. Just go back to sleep and keep sending us money." At least that is what I heard, it is probably not what it said, who knows, I was so mad at that point the skin on my face was burning. It finally occured to me that they wouldn't give me that treatment if I was buying. So for one last try before I had to drive to the Post Office I called the the 1-800-earthlink number and followed the "New Service" prompts.

A very nice lady answered, told me she couldn't help me, I told her that I was prepared to send the CRRR letter to them, but that I was past mad and was going to do whatever I could to make them as miserable as I was. She was apparently not too experienced because she went to find a "Senior Representative". She put me on Silent Hold, it lasted a long time. She must have had connection to my audio, because after I sat there a while the words "She hung up on me!" boiled out of my mouth (fortunately I really did say "She hung up on me!" instead of . . . something else). Before the last word had stopped echoing in my office she was back on the line "No I didn't!" Ha! Then she turned on the Music On Hold to keep me from going ballistic again I guess.

Finally Mike came on the line. "How may I help you?" Well, I tell you. By this time I had about an hour invested in getting the Earthlink service cancelled, I was not in the mood to chat. "Why are you cancelling your service?", "I got cable", "Would you like to try da da da da da da da da . . .", "No, I just want to cancel", Well how about da da da da da da da da . . .", "NO, FOR VISHNUZ SAKE! (since Vishnu is the embodiment of mercy and goodness in Hindu I thought it might have a positive impact - I needed goodness and mercy about then and Mike had that Western Maharashtra drawl we hear so often on Customer Service calls now days) I JUST WANT TO CANCEL YOUR SERVICE AND GO BACK TO MY LIFE! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?"

Mike finally got the message that he was not going to make any money on me that afternoon so I ultimately got him to close the account as of 31Jan07 ("We don't prorate") and give me a confirmation number.

So, I have heard that this is not an unusual experience, but it was unusual for me. I will NEVER buy anything from Earthlink again, unless they might have the last liquor store on earth, in which case I would still consider brewing my own or possibly quitting drinking altogether.

And if I will never buy anything from Earthlink again, I would bet that I am not the only one. And if the customers who leave them will never buy anything from them again, for any reason, what does that say about Earthlink as an investment? I'd say sell your Earthlink stock, their Terms of Service are designed to continually reduce their prospective customer base. Doesn't sound like good business to me.

Happy New Year, Good On Ya' Mates! Don't say I didn't tell you! Ha!

Richard Bunn
09Jan2007