When I told you about Steve Madden’s enshrinement on The Answer Guy’s Customer Service Wall of Shame earlier this week, I pointed out a problem with not being specific. Yesterday, I experienced another customer service issue brought about by non-specificity, but this time it wasn’t overt; it was a matter of careless automation run amok.

Of course, on the customer service side of things, there’s no real difference.

I’m happy to report, first of all, that I had a chance to see customer service done the right way in the course of working through this issue: my e-mail host, Digital Housing and Administration, helped me fix the problem I encountered, immediately and effectively. I can’t recommend them highly enough, and Digital Housing does lots of things besides just hosting e-mail.

Then, there’s 1and1.

1and1 is the retail arm of an absolutely huge company called United Internet. They provide lots of great services at an impossibly low cost, but woe be to you if you ever need support; I’ve used 1and1 to host Answer Guy Central as well as PC-VIP, I Hate Texting, and The Facelift for many years, and I’ll say that so long as you know EXACTLY what you’re doing from a technical standpoint they’re a great bargain and deliver generally solid service.

But 1and1 doesn’t provide service. Not customer service, not sales support service, nothing. I’ve actually tried to spend MORE money with 1and1 and been unable to do so, not because 1and1 doesn’t sell “more”, but because they’re so inept (or their approach to business process is so bad) as to make giving them more extraordinarily difficult.

I was playing around with the DNS records for Answer Guy Central yesterday (I could explain what that means, but it’s incredibly dull and best left to your computer support professional). I needed to return them to 1and1, after having had our DNS controlled elsewhere for a few months.

DNS Settings 1and1 Digital Housing

When I started the process, the IP Record was pointed at “other IP Address”, just as the Mail Record was pointed outside (at Digital Housing). Then, when I brought the DNS record back to 1and1 it automatically reset the e-mail to use 1and1’s mail server, too.

Which means I had no email.

I asked 1and1, since they had changed my e-mail configuration without me telling them to do so, if they had records of how I had the e-mail set up before they did that. They did not, or at least claimed they had no access to that information.

I’m skeptical. I have no doubt that the front line telephone and email support personnel at 1and1 have no EASY way to see this information, but I’m pretty sure that 1and1’s server change logs could have shown what I needed.

Business process matters. It matters more the larger your business becomes. And United Internet/1and1 is very large, indeed.

As I said, Digital Housing was able to provide the information I needed pretty easily, but it never should have come to that. 1and1 had no valid reason to make this change without my asking for it, and could have helped me but wasn’t prepared to do so.

This my friends, is why computers are still harder than they should be.

Need help with your computers, or your customer service? Contact Us Here. We’ll slap things into shape for you, even if you’re struggling with a company like 1and1—or you’ve just realized that you are one.

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