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computing: internet service providers: EarthLink


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Dead Domain Handling Incident

In late August or early September, Earthlink apparently changed the way their DNS servers handle unresolved domain names so that web browsers attempting to load such pages would be redirected to a "search help" page on one of Earthlink's servers rather than simply returning a "site not found" message. This new feature was widely criticized, and caused at least one well-documented loss of time and productivity.


From Aero:

aero@lionheart:~$ host
Host not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)
aero@lionheart:~$ host has address has address has address has address has address has address
aero@lionheart:~$ host
Host not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)

Woozle has more fun with EarthLink

Many years ago, I got an EarthLink dial-up account for Anna to use. Recently her mom has upgraded to DSL, so the dial-up is no longer needed; I suspect that it hasn't been used for many months, due to problems with the laptop on which I had set up the connection.

So it happens that the check card I've been using to pay for this account expired, and I got a notice from EarthLink that I owe them $21.95 for one month's service. Being too busy to deal with it immediately, I shove it in my pile. "That's as big as it'll get," I think, "because surely they'll cancel the account... or at least they can't charge me for something when I haven't been using it."

Time goes by, and I get another notice; I now owe $43.90. "Okay," I think this time, "I guess I'd better log on to my account and cancel the damn thing, or they're just going to keep racking these charges up until it's large enough to hand over to a collection agency."

But guess what! I can't remember my EarthLink email address which I never used, and neither of the notices show what it is! They show my account number, but I can't log in with that!

So I've scrawled a note on the latest invoice saying, essentially, I wanted to cancel this ages ago, and I haven't used it in months; please cancel it now and I don't owe you anything.

We'll have to see how far they're willing to take this. If I know big corporations, though, they'll hand it over to a collector and pursue it ruthlessly, even for a measly $44.

Which I am not paying, dammit!

--Woozle 16:17, 22 March 2007 (EDT)

2007-04-14 update

They keep sending invoices, and have started calling. I finally found my log-in information and was able to access my account. I clicked on the "Cancel Account" button, and guess what – it takes you to a policy page saying you can't cancel via email (not even allowing for the idea that one might cancel from the web, having logged in and everything so they know for sure it's not someone else maliciously canceling your account for you).

Next, I wanted to see if they had any record of when "I" (meaning Anna) last connected. If they showed that there actually was some usage of the account during either of the billing cycles they're trying to charge me for, I would have probably given in and paid it. I'm pretty sure Anna hasn't used it in some time, but I don't have a specific date for when she last used it. The point was moot, however, as I could not find any record of usage (I thought I remembered seeing such a thing the last time I logged in to Earthlink's account web page maybe 3 years ago).

So then I thought I'd take a look at the invoices (which the "My Account" homepage claimed I could look at, and even gave me a helpful link) – but the page I get when I click on that says "There are no invoices available for you to view. If you need more assistance, please contact Customer Service."

So I can't cancel, I can't see if they disagree with my contention about usage, and I can't even see the basis for their claim that I owe them money – never mind that they sent me three pages, received yesterday, all labeled as invoice #317186917 and claiming that I owe them $43.90 without going into any further details. (Well yeah, they mention that my Visa card expired. I let it expire without updating it because I wanted to cancel my account, and didn't see any other way to do it at the moment.) The invoice also lists a web page for contacting them directly, but this only shows phone numbers, live chat, and email addresses. I don't want live chat, I don't want to phone, and they've already said they don't accept cancellations by email. Plus I've already written them to cancel.

I'm going to send them another written cancellation and use the phrase "disputing these charges". I can see how they could make a case that I owe them the money (although I think they really ought to let it go in the name of good customer service, given my explanation), but they can't possibly claim that I haven't canceled. We'll see what happens next... --Woozle 09:16, 14 April 2007 (EDT)