Frank Rogala

Anaheim’s Earthlink Muni Wifi shares the pain with me!

I understand that he lives has become an expensive nightmare for EarthLink.  I guess they must have decided to share the pain.

I promised myself I would not let EarthLink get away with what they put me through, however it's taken me a while to get to posting this.

Nearly 1 year ago I received a flyer in the mail Re: EarthLink's Anaheim, California Muni Wifi.

Trying to find a way to stop having to pay a phone bill in order to receive Internet (for DSL), and having heard bad things about customer service and the cable companies, I decided to give it a try.

Anaheim is one of the few cities that have been wired for municipal WiFi. From what I hear this was a strategy that EarthLink was trying in order to expand its Internet access services.

It all sounded great, and it might have been.

However, when I received a modem, nothing seemed to work. No one would help me unless I went through the identical steps for setting things up each time Imoved up the customer service tiers.As I moved up the system, the accents became less severe but no one was able to help me receive a signal.

Finally I was told that the services must not be available in my area yet and that I could return the unit for a full refund. I had done everything, even taking the receiver on the roof, and had wasted better part of the day -- but was happy that they were not going to charge me for the privilege of struggling to find a signal that had been advertised in my mailbox as available at my address.

The next day, before I had boxed up and shipped out the modem, an EarthLink truck pulled up in front of my house and installed a WiFi unit. The entire city's installation was supposed to have been completed a year prior, so on some level I was impressed that someone at EarthLink appeared to be responsive.

I was toying with the idea of giving it another try. I started reading the materials with a modem and it was at this point I found out that if I used the connection on more than one computer - that I could be charged more... substantially more. Since the Internet access charge, as it was, was about the same as I was paying for DSL, and I had several computers in the house that need Internet access, it would have been ridiculous for me to go forward with EarthLink.

Nothing in any of the promotional materials that I had received in my mailbox before ordering said anything about the restricting the use of the WiFi to just one computer. I know, I had saved a flyer and I double checked it.

I returned the unit, kept track of all the numbers and addresses and made sure it was received at the company.

Within a couple weeks I started receiving bills from EarthLink for $120.00.

This became a monthly ritual. Every time I would call EarthLink, and go through the story. The rep would apologize and tell me that the problem had been taking care of.The next month, I would receive another bill.This went on until they turned collection over to a collection agency.

Due to an illness in my family I had been spending a lot of time in northern Michigan and due to the time zone difference the automated phone calls from the collection agency would wake me up at all hours. The messages were maddeningly short, "this is Shawn Lee call me at  1800 XXX-xxxx

When I called the called the 800 number and found out it was a collection agency, my blood boiled. Not only was EarthLink torturing me, they were messing with my credit rating now.

I again called EarthLink customer service, and even though I was told everything was taking care of, I demanded to speak with "a supervisor." This involved a 30 minute hold (on my cell phone, while out-of state). The supervisor assured me that the matter was now taking care of.

Within a month or two the bills started again, when I called to inquire this time, I was told that someone, somewhere had restarted the billing!

This time I tried a different strategy. I still made phone calls, but I started sending letters with the invoice, listing the dozen or so "incident numbers" that I had been given each time I was told that the matter had been taken care of.

Finally, as of a couple of weeks ago, after dealing with yet another collection agency, the bills stopped coming.

If EarthLink wonders why it is experiencing difficulty in the marketplace, perhaps their executives have not had a chance to be hounded and tortured by their accounting system, customer service reps and on hold marketing.

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