Fear and Loathing on the Email Trail

As much as I’ve learned to love technology and the benefits it often brings, it has its downsides too.

In fact, the more ubiquitous it is, the greater the likelihood of technical “improvements” making life more frustrating for the regular user.

We’ve been Rogers customers for over 20 years.  They currently have our internet, mobile phones, TV and home security accounts.  And right now they are in jeopardy of losing our business.

With the advent of email, our world got larger.  We could quickly contact friends, family and acquaintances without the hassle of stamps, envelopes and trips to the post office. For those of us with small businesses (a sizeable portion of the population), it became a more effective and efficient way to keep in touch with clients and prospects while maintaining and enhancing a personal touch.

Over the years we have had glitches in our service; the mail has been inoperative, the internet service slow or the software was faulty.  Nevertheless the vast majority of calls I made to the help lines or the virtual trips I took to the online chat help were followed by   satisfactory resolutions of the problems.

Today, however, this is not the case.

In February 2013, we began to have email issues on all 3 of our Rogers.com email accounts.  We have always had Mac computers.  Our main office computer is an iMac, we have two MacBooks, and iPad and two iPhones.  We got our first Mac in 1984, by the way, so we are committed to that platform!

At the onset of the email issues I contacted the Rogers help line. I was treated politely and the person on the phone helped me check all the preferences and made a few suggestions to me regarding the efficiency of using Mac Mail.  It was suggested I call the Mac folks, which I did; they told me I was using the most recent incarnation of the program and that all my settings were correct.  Things were okay for a while.

Now, I don’t want to bore you with extraneous details, but the problems became more frequent as the next couple of months passed.  I was told with great assurance that one of the following issues was causing my email problems:

-I should be using POP accounts across the board; IMAP is incompatible with it.

-My preferences were wrong. (We reset them on ALL the devices)

-“It’s because you are using Mac Mail.”

– the “Yahoo algorithms detected unusual activity on your account.”

I heard each of these more than once, and like a good little robot I believed that I somehow had screwed things up and needed to get professional help for our computer/email problems.

A couple of weeks ago, after yet another round of long phone calls and repeated suggestions to check the preferences again, my patience started to wear thin.  A kind fellow suggested that they send a request to the second tier technical support team to look into the problem.  I was promised that someone would call me within 24-48 hours.

More than 72 hours later my cell phone rang while I was at the local mall trying on shoes.  Without looking at who was calling, I answered and got a recorded message telling me that it was Rogers technical support calling and that they needed more information and that I should call them back.  I did, and immediately ended up in the hell that starts with “Thank you for calling Rogers.  For service in English press…”  After pressing all the right buttons, I got put on hold and waited for about 7 minutes at which point I decided I would call them back when I was in our home office.

A few days later I called back; the woman I talked to was understanding of my plight and looked at the copious notes in our file; she immediately put me through to a second tier technician who informed me that the problem was that Yahoo which now handles Rogers email has intensified the security on email accounts because of hackers and spammers.  The solution, he suggested, was that since we were sending requests for email notifications from multiple devices it would shut us down so I was to use Mail on only one device.  He assured me that he was “98% sure” that would solve my problem.

I dutifully complied.  The only device the was linked via Mail to our main Rogers email account was our iMac.  My wife couldn’t check it on her laptop or from her iPhone. Several hours later Mail prompted us that it couldn’t connect to our email account.

I did what I’ve had to do for several months; I logged into Yahoo Canada, logged into the Rogers email, then went back and opened Mail.  Now the email was working – for an hour or so.

Yesterday I called Rogers again.  I spoke to a technician – Chrystal – who had been very cordial and empathetic several weeks ago.  Once again she commiserated with me for the problems we’d been having with our email and suggested two possible approaches:  I could contact online chat help or I could call CAT – Customer Advocacy Team.

Today I called the Customer Advocacy Team.  It was apparent right from the start that the person with whom I spoke was well trained in all the “right” things to say i.e. “I understand how you could feel that way” and “I’m sure that is very frustrating for you” were just a couple of the linguistic nuggets thrown my way. At no time during our 30 minute conversation did I raise my voice, yell, or behave in anything other than a professional manner but temptation did raise its ugly head!

After perusing the notes of my frequent calls to them, she told me that there was basically nothing she could do other than suggest that I use the Yahoo Canada platform for my emails.  When I indicated that this wasn’t an agreeable option for us – I don’t like the layout and the basic platform nearly as much as Mail – she said that she understood my frustration but that was my only option.  At this point I began to realize that CAT actually stands for Customer Antagonization Team.  It was also pointed out to me that there was nothing Rogers could do about this since Yahoo takes care of their email service and they’ve had to put in very stringent controls since there are “some really bad people out there” who are doing illegal things with email.

Although I am not a computer and technology neophyte, I’m certainly no tekkie guy.  But it seems to me that there must be a creative way to provide the service I’m paying for without these ongoing issues.

Here are my questions:

1. Why have Rogers and Yahoo neglected to update their customers on new security protocols and how they will affect the end user?

2. What could Rogers do to ensure that the front line folks who help with trouble shooting actually know what the issue is? (In this case, tightened security protocols)

3. Why did I have to make many phone calls over several months before someone told me that there was nothing that could be done and that we’d have to live with it?

Oh, and by the way, it was suggested that I might want to go to business email (for a price, of course).

Yeah, try to upsell me when I’m already unhappy with the service!

I’d appreciate your comments and thoughts on this.