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Lycos Deletes Emails and Says 'Too Bad!' 513

Posted by Zonk
from the now-that's-customer-service dept.
Billosaur writes "The Consumerist brings us a tale of woe which is apparently generating outrage in some quarters, along with death threats. Lycos email customer Whitney did not access her account for 30 days. This resulted in Lycos deleting over two years worth of email. It isn't so much Lycos' policy that's the problem (though that requires some scrutiny), but the response of the 'manager of all of Customer Service,' Mike Jandreau. Apparently he's not too service oriented, as his exchange with Whitney shows. And since this story was posted to The Consumerist, apparently Mr. Jandreau has become the focus of some unwanted attention. Of course, his final response to her might have something to with it: 'I'm sorry, no one here has any intentions of helping you with anything. I am the manager of all of Customer Service. There is no one higher than me that you will speak with. You violated our policy, which is, despite what you say, completely clear. No one is holding anything hostage. Your e-mails have been completely deleted, and no amount of money can now restore them.'"
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Lycos Deletes Emails and Says 'Too Bad!'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:51PM (#17864686)
    No mail for you!!
    • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:05PM (#17866080) Homepage Journal
      I run a business which deals with customers. In my 20+ years experience, 99% of customers are decent people. The other 1% are assholes. Unfortunately the good customers will do their business and leave, whereas the assholes seem to hang around. So at least 10% of your time is spent dealing with the assholes.

      These assholes will make your employee's life a living hell if you don't allow your employee to protect himself. ( look at customerssuck.com for examples ) No employee will work for your company very long if you tell him that he must take shit from anybody 8 hours a day.

      But a good customer service manager - and I mean the real boss, not the arrogant guy who claims to be the head of customer service - will train his people how to tell a customer to go away without getting embroiled in a pissing contest. ( Saying "I'm sorry that this happened..." is a good start. It's possible to empathize with a customer without admitting that the company is at fault. )

      Yes, the customer was naive and foolish. Yes, the customer service rep was an asshole. But the real person to blame here is an unnamed manager who put this guy in customer service without proper training.

      • by computational super (740265) on Friday February 02, 2007 @07:04PM (#17866940)

        You think Lycos' customer service is bad? I just got an e-mail from Bank of America about how they need me to click through this link and verify my client information, and I don't even have an account there! I messed them up, though - I clicked through and input my account details with my actual bank account with Washington Mutual. That ought to confuse somebody in processing!

      • by gsn (989808) on Friday February 02, 2007 @08:42PM (#17868024)
        His initial mail -

        ...Should you want to restore the previous contents of your account, you will need to upgrade to the Lycos Mail Plus service...Restoration is not available to members who do not upgrade, and our policy will be strictly enforced. To have your account restored, you must upgrade, and pay the $19.95 upgrade fee. This is non-negotiable.
        Here response -

        So let me get this straight: you're holding my emails hostage until you get $19.95 from me? I checked your policies, and didn't see that listed. This hardly seems like a customer-friendly policy, especially toward someone like me, who has been with Lycos for several years. There were many times when Lycos was not in compliance with its own terms of service, and I didn't try to extort $19.95 from you.
        This is just the snippets she cut and pasted on her blog. Not the full emails. I'd love to see them. She sounds like she has already gone of on him in the first reply. Nothing about his initial email is rude or unprofessional. She on the other hand is rude and whining about their policies and accusing them of not being in compliance with their own terms of service (which they can arbitrarily change of course) and of extortion... over 20 bucks.

        Now you might argue that she is a customer that thats hardly justification. A more compelling argument is that its his job to never lose his cool and always be polite. So he'll get fired over this. Which is a shame because in my book he tried to do his job and dealt with an angry customer the right way. People don't like it when your firm and clear with them and want things sugar coated. She wasn't worth it. She hasn't ever paid them a dime herself so her being a customer itself is debatable - user yes. She was eyeballs for advertising. She didn't backup her mail. She didn't feel that two years worth of email was worth logging in to check up on every thirty days. She didn't pay 20 bucks to get it back when she lost it. IMHO her email is rude and accusatory. No sympathy.
        • by paeanblack (191171) on Friday February 02, 2007 @09:51PM (#17868722)
          Now you might argue that she is a customer that thats hardly justification. A more compelling argument is that its his job to never lose his cool and always be polite. So he'll get fired over this. Which is a shame because in my book he tried to do his job and dealt with an angry customer the right way. People don't like it when your firm and clear with them and want things sugar coated. She wasn't worth it.

          She also doesn't know how to get things her way.

          Never let your first point of contact with customer service escalate the call if the problem is actually your fault. Keep trying different avenues of approach until you hit the soft spot. Push for empathy, and don't blame anyone or anything. Use phrases like "I've really found myself in a bind here, and I'm not sure who can help me out." Note the important implications of "found myself"="could happen to anyone", "in a bind"="not quite life-or-death", "I'm not sure who"=easy handoff for the stonewallers, and "who can help me out"="obviously someone can help me". There will always be some eager trainee that doesn't know or a jaded short-timer that doesn't care about corporate policy. Let them be your hero. If possible, target the opposite sex.

          If you still can't find a way in, then politely escalate the issue. Never mention how many times you contacted them or what the other contacts told you. That's the difference between desperation and nagging.
        • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @10:56PM (#17869206) Homepage
          "Which is a shame because in my book he tried to do his job and dealt with an angry customer the right way."

          Actually, he didn't.

          Let's assume you're right and that the woman was out of line, and that the guy was 100% right.

          Here's his one-time response.

          "Dear :

          Again, let me apologize that you feel Lycos has let you down. As stated in my previous email, this in accordance with Lyco's policy and your only option at this point is to pay $20 to have your email restored. I understand you may not find this option to your satisfaction, and I apologize but those are company rules"

          And then here's the key.... don't respond any more. Even if the woman calls him the worst names possible. Just. Walk. Away.

          It's nothing personal. He doesn't get it. And you look at the pictures, it's pretty obvious he's just a kid trying to do an adult's job. He hasn't been adequately trained to deal with the public.

          But you cannot seriously think this is the right way to deal with a customer no matter how abusive.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gsn (989808)
            I'm not saying he was 100% right at all. I'm saying he *tried* to do his job.

            He gave her the standard ToS - the (presumably) standard 20 buck offer - not rude. I have no idea what the mail she sent him looks like. After that all I have to go on are cut and paste snippets on her blog. Even those make her out to be unreasonable. Even his next reply is not rude but a tad brusque. She argues that theres nothing that REQUIRES them to delete mail from inactive accounts. There is also nothing requiring them to kee
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by honkycat (249849)
              Well, I agree that I have sympathy for the guy -- I'd probably lose my cool, too. But, if I acted as unprofessionally as he did, I'd deserve to lose my job. Part of doing a job is doing it professionally, even if that is difficult.
  • Outrageous (Score:5, Funny)

    by Intron (870560) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:52PM (#17864704)
    I would demand a full refund for this free service.
    • Re:Outrageous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arth1 (260657) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:12PM (#17865064) Homepage Journal

      I would demand a full refund for this free service.
      Somehow, I doubt they will pay you back the amount the advertisers paid them on behalf of you.
    • - that you un-blackhole all that spam I used to get. Da' noive!

    • Re:Outrageous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrcdeckard (810717) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:55PM (#17865910) Homepage

      i agree the parent is +5 funny, however, it seems that some people actually believe that she hasn't a right to complain because the service was free. let's follow that logic for a moment:

      i have a computer shop that offers a back up service for free (as an incentive to get people in the store to buy computers, eg). a customer uses it, say 6 months in the past. every 2 months i archive stuff off to a cheap medium, say dvd-r. customer comes back, says, hey, my hdd crashed, could you restore my old info to a new hdd. i tell him, "sure, oh by the way, you'll need to upgrade to a premium service for $19.99."

      the customer gets irate, and no one can figure out why. even after i show him the original fine print, he feels cheated. why?

      because he was under the impression it was a FREE service with no "catches". he entered the agreement with a trust -- a trust that i will venture to say was exploited. if i saw that he didn't read the agreement when he signed, did i point out to him that it would cost him $20 if he were to ever *use* the service?

      of course not. he probably would've just bought a backup drive or something instead. by the same token, i bet the 30day provision was buried in the eula, which lycos bets no one reads (and they figure they don't both people that do as customers).

      i think, as a business owner, i should be able to stand my ground, however underhanded it is. he did sign afterall. it's not my fault he had a general trust in people.

      however, to respond how lycos did in this case is plain unethical -- i doubt there was language in the EULA that stated, "if user complains about any portion of agreement, lycos reserves the right to delete any and all of user's data."

      mr c
  • by udderly (890305) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:54PM (#17864736)

    Of course, his final response to her might have something to with it: 'I'm sorry, no one here has any intentions of helping you with anything. I am the manager of all of Customer Service. There is no one higher than me that you will speak with. You violated our policy, which is, despite what you say, completely clear. No one is holding anything hostage. Your e-mails have been completely deleted, and no amount of money can now restore them.'"
    Sounds like someone needs to brush up on their corporatespeak.
    • Re:corporatespeak (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:23PM (#17865280) Journal
      Yeah, not the best possible response, even if she was being exceptionally difficult. Let me give it a try:

      "I am responsible for all decisions regarding Customer Service. At this time, we have followed our normal policy for free accounts. We offered you the opportunity to upgrade your account, which would have paid for one of our staff to restore your e-mails for you. However, since we didn't hear from you in 48 hours, the automated process has run normally and completely deleted your e-mail. It is absolutely unrecoverable. I'm sorry for your inconvenience, but we've provided the service that you signed up for. Please provide comments that will help us improve our service in the future if you wish. However, as the Manager of Customer Service for all of Lycos, I have decided that this particular case is closed and will provide no further reply to your questions and concerns."

      Hmmm. Same thing, but not quite as confrontational. It still states the important bits: it was policy, we warned you, you ignored us, I'm the manager and I've decided to close this issue without further correspondence. "10/10 for effort, but minus a few points for style, ya?"
      • Re:corporatespeak (Score:5, Interesting)

        by giminy (94188) on Friday February 02, 2007 @07:26PM (#17867208) Homepage Journal
        I'm sorry for your inconvenience, but we've provided the service that you signed up for.

        The word 'you' is used too much, as in the above sentence. I would recommend the following edit:

        "Dear so-and-so, I am Such-and-such and am responsible for all decisions regarding Customer Service. At this time, we have followed our normal policy for free accounts. I would like to point out that we offered the opportunity to upgrade the account, which would have added the account to our backups and would have permitted a restoration. Unfortunately, we received no response in the 48 hours alloted per terms of the free account service agreement. As such, an automated process made room for other accounts by expuging the data. The process used makes the data unrecoverable. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Please provide comments that will help us improve our service for not only yourself, but also for our other valued customers. Sincerely, Such-and-such"

        'You' is a very confrontational word. When in doubt, refer to the item at hand (e.g. 'the data' not 'your data', 'the account' not 'your account'). I especially like the sentence "The process used makes the data unrecoverable." You really have to unravel it to place meaning to it. "The process" oh, that was run by you guys, okay. 'the data'. oh, that was my account. Crap.

        This sort of passivation makes eyes glaze over and also tricks our brains into not parsing the whole thing at a time. It's hard to associate bad guy A with doing bad thing B if both A and B are obscured behind intermediaries.

        I add the last 'yourself' in there on the off-chance that the customer will come back. It doesn't hurt to leave the door open.

        You can trust me, I work for the government (no, really, I do).
        Reid
    • Re:corporatespeak (Score:4, Insightful)

      by risk one (1013529) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:02PM (#17866034)
      I don't blame the guy for talking this way. He's honest. Their service deletes email permanently if someone doesn't log in for a time, and when something like that happens they can offer nothing further. He's just being honest about the service. Of course, with a service like that, brutal honesty isn't a good tactic, but whenever honesty becomes bad policy, you need to review your service, not the way you talk.
      • Re:corporatespeak (Score:4, Insightful)

        by udderly (890305) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:28PM (#17866474)
        You're kidding right? Nobody cares that Lycos's ToS spelled it out. Nobody cares that this woman should have known the policy. Nobody cares that she should have backed up her email.

        We're only hearing about this situation due to this guy's behavior. And now Lycos has probably lost business and he's going to get broken off first thing Monday morning. And why? Because he's "honest?" No, because he's a pompous ass who used his position to be unnecessarily rude to a prospective customer.
  • tupiche (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:55PM (#17864750) Homepage Journal
    >Your e-mails have been completely deleted, and no amount of money can now
    >restore them.

    I doubt this is true. There are probably more than a hundred different archives, tarballs, and tape backups from which they could salvage most, if not all, of the poor woman's e-mail.

    If his sister/wife/daughter would "lose" her e-mail would he be so dismissive?

    His statement is especially suspect when the original tech support answer
    was

    Should you want to restore the previous contents of your account, you
    will need to upgrade to the Lycos Mail Plus service...Restoration is not
    available to members who do not upgrade, and our policy will be strictly
    enforced. To have your account restored, you must upgrade, and pay the
    $19.95 upgrade fee
    I guess the corporate mantra is: If extortion won't work then resort to extermination.

    Sounds like my last three [slashdot.org]
    employers.
    • by rice_web (604109)
      I think it's entirely possible that free accounts, of which there could be millions, offer no form of protection. Think logically the amount of storage that that would require for a small company like Lycos, and the likely small staff they have. I just can't imagine them having a massive backup system.

      If they do, of course, then shame on them. But why be so quick to accuse them of being lazy or inept?
      • > I think it's entirely possible that free accounts, of which there could be millions, offer no form of protection

        Possible. I doubt it, though. The recent article [slashdot.org] about under the table influence applies. Hard disk and network backup storage technology has been an enormous money funnel. If Hotmail and Yahoo! can upgrade from 25 MB accounts (default) to 1 gig accounts (default) then, in all realms of real probability, all e-mail is archived someplace for a long time.
      • I think it's entirely possible that free accounts, of which there could be millions, offer no form of protection. Think logically the amount of storage that that would require for a small company like Lycos, and the likely small staff they have. I just can't imagine them having a massive backup system.

        Except that, if I'm understanding what happened correctly, at one point after her email got deleted, they offered to restore it ... but only if she upgraded to the $20 premium service.

        That was the beginning of the whole argument. She got mad because she felt that this was extortionate, and Lycos' Customer Service Manager basically revoked the offer and said "haha -- now you can't get it back even if you pay!"

        So there was clearly a backup there at some point. Or not even a backup; they could have just logically deleted the data, but not physically deleted it yet. It wouldn't have appeared in her account, but it would have still be there on the servers somewhere. (A lot of web hosting companies do similar stuff; if you don't pay your bill, your site will disappear, but if you cough up it will reappear instantly. It wasn't actually deleted, just deactivated.) So it wouldn't be necessary for them to have much additional storage; they wouldn't need to keep a totally redundant backup system (though they probably would), just some feature in their email system that would let them render messages invisible to the user, but allow an admin or DBA to put them back later if the customer upgraded.
        • by tinkerghost (944862) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:29PM (#17865392) Homepage

          That was the beginning of the whole argument. She got mad because she felt that this was extortionate, and Lycos' Customer Service Manager basically revoked the offer and said "haha -- now you can't get it back even if you pay!"

          I can't read it since it's slashdotted, but if she was offered restoration for the upgrade price, and declined it, then it's entirely possible that the argument went on long enough to cycle her Emails out of the backup rotation. Given that Lycos offers both paid & unpaid services, I don't think it would be a stretch that the unpaid services were on a short backup schedule, with the paying customers having more recovery time.

          I can't see the whole argument, but if her contact with Lycos CS was anything like the calls I would get doing tech support, it probably involved a lot of words that the FCC charges companies large amounts of money for using. She may just be posting the final notice after weeks of abusive behaviour. There does come a time when the answer "No, now go away & leave us alone" becomes the right one.

        • by computational super (740265) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:17PM (#17866268)
          they offered to restore it ... but only if she upgraded to the $20 premium service.

          That point seems to be a bit ambiguous - I get the impression that what he was trying to say was that if she had originally signed up for the premium service, then this would have been an option at this point. I'm not quite ready to jump on the "hate the customer service guy" bandwagon here yet - we didn't see the whole exchange; we just see a few excerpts presented by somebody with an axe to grind (for all we know, that last response was completely fabricated). He may have explained exactly what he was talking about, and she may have gotten a lot ruder in the blank spaces. I think it's ironic the number of Slashdot readers who are ready to crucify this guy for being honest rather than hiding behind corporate doublespeak and faux politeness - say what you want about this guy, but at least he's not an insincere, two-faced, backstabbing PHB.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Threni (635302)
        > But why be so quick to accuse them of being lazy or inept?

        Because this is Slashdot, where companies - even those that provide a service for free - are necessarily evil, and consumers are never wrong. How dare they try to hide behind the terms of the contract? To read the headline you'd think the company just deleted someone's emails for no reason.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          > To read the headline you'd think the company just deleted someone's emails for no reason

          Okay. You win a point. There was a reason: to be cruel for personal amusement.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Sponge Bath (413667)

            ... to be cruel for personal amusement

            Celebrity Deathmatch Referee: "I'll allow it!"

          • Re:tupiche (Score:5, Insightful)

            by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday February 02, 2007 @09:22PM (#17868402) Homepage Journal

            Seeing as some mods appear to believe this is flamebait, I'd just like to back you up on this.

            "Mike" first of all offered to restore the mail, but for a $20 fee, which as the original writer pointed out, came across as extortion:

            Should you want to restore the previous contents of your account, you will need to upgrade to the Lycos Mail Plus service...Restoration is not available to members who do not upgrade, and our policy will be strictly enforced. To have your account restored, you must upgrade, and pay the $19.95 upgrade fee. This is non-negotiable.

            Customer complained, pointing out how this felt and also making it clear that the "30 day login requirement" was not that clear, so it was an easy mistake to make. After a few exchanges on this subject, none of which amounted to an outright rejection of the above, this comes from Lycos:

            I am the manager at Lycos. Your e-mail will not be restored, as it's been more than 48 hours since you were notified as to what you had to do. Our policy is clear, and clearly stated on the homepage, whether or not you choose to look at it. Nothing will be done for you.

            So in the middle of discussions, Lycos decided to delete the mail anyway. Just in case there was any doubt, Mike took this one step further and wrote the following snide response:

            I am the manager of all of Customer Service. There is no one higher than me that you will speak with. You violated our policy, which is, despite what you say, completely clear. No one is holding anything hostage. Your e-mails have been completely deleted, and no amount of money can now restore them.

            So, yes, Lycos deleted the mail for no apparent reason beyond being cruel for personal amusement. Clearly the account holder did want to hold on to them. Clearly there was no necessity to delete the mail. Mike felt that he should punish the account holder for daring to question the legitimacy of his $20 "offer". Did he need to? Nope.

            Did Lycos have a legal right to? DOES IT FUCKING MATTER? The issue here is are Lycos being assholes (answer: YES!) and does Mike deserve some criticism for his personal, rude, unhelpful and unsympathetic response? Answer: Hell yes. The fact someone has a legal right to be an asshole is not reason to believe the person is beyond criticism, that the organization is not behaving attrociously, that complaining about it is somehow "wrong", or even that the victim has not been poorly treated.

    • I doubt this is true. There are probably more than a hundred different archives, tarballs, and tape backups from which they could salvage most, if not all, of the poor woman's e-mail.

      Especially if they do business in any of the many countries with stricter-than-nonexistent data retention laws (yeah, I know, lycos.co.uk is undoubtedly a completely distinct corporate entity, yada yada yada).
    • Re:tupiche (Score:4, Informative)

      by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:38PM (#17866606)

      I doubt this is true. There are probably more than a hundred different archives, tarballs, and tape backups from which they could salvage most, if not all, of the poor woman's e-mail.
      I would argue that that is untrue. It's also not necessarily economically feasible to do so. For example (which has no bearing on how anyone else does things; this is only an example):

      We run an Exchange system for about 19,000 people over eight backend Exchange 2003 servers. To restore a mailbox from one of those servers without affecting the production system (which requires coordination from three financially separate groups), we must:
      • Put up a new domain controller in a three domain forest
      • Make a backup of the DC
      • Move it to a private network without a connection to the domain
      • Put up a new Exchange back end server on the private network
      • Restore the information store
      • Export the mail to a PST file
      • Restore the backup of the DC and put it in DS restore mode
      • Return the DC to the network, allow replication to overwrite its db
      • Demote and decommission the DC
      Total time: estimated at 60 hours of work (20 hours, 3 people).

      No one, and I mean NO ONE at any level of the organization gets mailboxes restored. Backups are for disaster recovery only and are recycled after two weeks. If someone loses all their mail then waits thirty days to tell us, it's no longer possible to do the work, even if it's ordered by the organization head.

      Now imagine Lycos, providing a free email service for many thousands more users. How long do you think their retention time for backups is, when they provide no positive affirmation that they can restore the data? How much time and hardware (servers, backup devices, backup media) do you think they'd be willing to put into restoring free email? How many FTEs would they have to dedicate only to that task? How likely would you be to go through 60 hours of work to restore a peon's mailbox in your own organization after you specifically told them what to do to prevent it from being deleted in the first place?

      I feel bad for the person that lost her email and think the customer service guy's a douche, but I also don't doubt that Lycos is not in a position to restore the mail even if they wanted to and wouldn't fault them for saying No even if they could. That's reality.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That's one messed up system you've described.

        What happened to:

        Physically walk or SSH/remote desktop to the system controlling the data storage device on which the backup is stored,

        Export the mail to a PST file

        and then walk or SSH/remote desktop to the production system and, if necessary, recreate the account in the manner of a new account generation. While I don't work with MS-Exchange this very simple method, requiring less than thirty minutes, works to restore entire *NIX accounts including Mozilla, pine, mail, Gnome/KDE/Enlightenm

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Well, you've hit the nail on the head. Exchange isn't UNIX. It's a proprietary SQL database. It isn't plaintext on a tape, and to get data from it you need to have the database running in Exchange.

          Yes, it's a lot of cruft, but you also get necessary corporate features out of Exchange with Outlook that are impossible to get out of Pine, mail, Thunderbird, you name it. Welcome to the reality of systems and email administration: little tricks and setups that work for individual users or small business almos
      • Re:tupiche (Score:5, Insightful)

        by uglyduckling (103926) on Friday February 02, 2007 @07:52PM (#17867536) Homepage

        We run an Exchange system for about 19,000 people over eight backend Exchange 2003 servers. To restore a mailbox from one of those servers without affecting the production system (which requires coordination from three financially separate groups), we must: * Put up a new domain controller in a three domain forest * Make a backup of the DC * Move it to a private network without a connection to the domain * Put up a new Exchange back end server on the private network * Restore the information store * Export the mail to a PST file * Restore the backup of the DC and put it in DS restore mode * Return the DC to the network, allow replication to overwrite its db * Demote and decommission the DC Total time: estimated at 60 hours of work (20 hours, 3 people).

        Which pretty much sums up why Exchange is totally unsuitable for use as a production mail server. I mean, come on - that's absolutely crazy. If it wasn't for the middle management obsession with shared calendars Exchange could be tossed out and something sane used.

  • The link for the exchange has already been /.ed, anyone got a mirror?
  • by RandoX (828285) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:57PM (#17864804)
    Sounds like the Lycos servers wolfed them down.
  • by JackHoffman (1033824) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:58PM (#17864826)
    If you get an email address from them, you agree to their policy, which is to delete email accounts that haven't been accessed in a while. The grace period is longer at other providers, but it is still a very common type of rule, simply because users never bother to remove old accounts. They would just pile up if there was no rule in place to delete accounts after some inactivity. In fact, I find it comforting that Lycos actually deletes email and doesn't keep it around forever. If I were offered the choice of two types of accounts, one which can not ever be deleted and one which expires after a month, I'd take the latter.
  • Before it starts... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:00PM (#17864856) Journal
    Before too many people begin criticizing this woman for using a free email service and not following the terms of the account, let me just say that this is as much about them deleting her email as it is the responses she received from management. Go read the replies she got from the head of Customer Service. That kind of answer is totally unprofessional. There are words used to describe people who exhibit that kind of behavior, words akin to "douche bag" and "asshole". Personally, I was unaware that those were job titles used at Lycos...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      > them deleting her email

      The e-mail isn't really completely deleted.

      > Go read the replies

      Exactly. This is a perfect example of social bullying.
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:03PM (#17864922)
    You mean this isn't how customer support is supposed to act?

    p.s. The customer isn't always right, all too often the customer is wrong, stupid and loud with it.
     
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 (260657)

      The customer isn't always right, all too often the customer is wrong, stupid and loud with it.
      Customers being wrong or stupid doesn't mean it's sound business to have rude people staffing support, and I'm sure someone higher up in Lycos gets the hint.

      Prediction: Michael Jandreau is out of a job by Monday, and hopefully a tad wiser.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172)
      The customer isn't always right, all too often the customer is wrong, stupid and loud with it.

      That is simply because people are all too often wrong, stupid and loud with it.

      It is an axiom of customer service that they are. It is their job to deal effectively with that. The saying is not meant to imply that the customer is always correct, but that without customers you have no income; and the customer decides whether or not to give you his custom, on his terms.

      It is in this sense that the customer is always
  • by Captain Sarcastic (109765) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:07PM (#17864984)
    ... on the one hand, it was a pretty crummy thing for Jandreau to say. "I am the manager of all of Customer Service. There is no one higher than me that you will speak with" is high-handed, arrogant, and sounds like some power-tripping Napoleon wanna-be. It was as tasteless as distilled water, and I coud understand a desire to pound on him.

    On the other hand, it is a free service, and Lycos has just proven that you do, indeed, get what you pay for. It is a shame that the old E-mails are gone, and it is unfortunate that nobody thought of a way to archive them off of Lycos' servers so that it no longer cluttered their machines, but it does appear to have been part of their ToS, so my sympathy is limited there, too.

  • by C_Kode (102755) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:08PM (#17865006) Journal
    Customer Service Operator from Hell!!!

    Sweet! Give him a website! :)
    • No No. Just about anyone from AOhelL customer service is a CSOH. Just google "AOL" and "unsubscribe" or something of the sort. They already have plenty of websites :P
  • Customer Service (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew@zhrod[ ]e.net ['agu' in gap]> on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:09PM (#17865024) Homepage Journal
    I learned from my father, a musician, about customer service. There are a couple of rules which keep customers happy, and keep them coming back:
    • The customer is always right
    • You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar (or muriatic acid)
    • Make sure your product doesn't suck

    I have a hard time with this kind of reaction from Lycos, and other companies. How can they get away with being assholes?

    I worked for Lycos as a contractor for two months. In that time, I survived two rounds of layoffs, in which they lost half their workforce. I didn't survive the third.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      There are a couple of rules which keep customers happy, and keep them coming back:

      This person is not a customer; they used a free service, didn't like the terms, lost their data, and then refused to follow the terms and pay to get the data back after not logging in for 30 days.

      Do you want customers like that? That only cost you money?

      * The customer is always right * You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar (or muriatic acid) * Make sure your product doesn't suck

      First of all, the

      • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:45PM (#17865740) Homepage
        They are a customer. They pay with their attention, which Lycos sells to advertisers.

        The fact that someone is not paying you cash does not change the fact that they are a customer.

        It is NOT a free service, anymore than TV is free. Just as I have the right to call up and complain about NBC having stupid shows on, she has the right to call up Lycos and complain.

        She may or may not have been a pain in the butt.

        But a GOOD customer service rep handles pains in the butt all the time. A good customer service rep could probably find a way to fix this situation without having it get blasted all over the internet, which I assure you his boss is NOT HAPPY about. They are in the business of selling PR (ads) and that damn fool of a Customer Service Rep just gave his own business a whole bunch of negative PR.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          They are a customer. They pay with their attention, which Lycos sells to advertisers.

          This is an ultimate flaw in your logic.

          They are NOT a customer. The advertisers are the customer. The users are a commodity. This is true no matter which ad-supported free email service we're talking about, be it Lycos or Gmail.

          The users of Lycos' or anyone else's free email service[s] have the same relationship to the actual customers in this relationship as a cow does to the customers at McDonald's. They're a product

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tinkerghost (944862)

      I learned from my father, a musician, about customer service. There are a couple of rules which keep customers happy, and keep them coming back:

      • The customer is always right
      • You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar (or muriatic acid)
      • Make sure your product doesn't suck

      I have a hard time with this kind of reaction from Lycos, and other companies. How can they get away with being assholes?

      Hmm, in order - :

      The customer is always right - Have you ever done customer service for computer related is

  • by snitmo (901312) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:12PM (#17865066)
    Lycos still existed?
  • I've been using Lycos Mail for over 12 years, starting out back when it was Mailcity, before Lycos bought them out. It definitely isn't the best e-mail service ever. I know exactly what Whitney is talking about with regards to their spam filters and downtime in the past few months; I experienced it first hand. But I always stuck with Lycos out of convenience. Everyone I know knows my e-mail address there. Never had a good reason to switch to anything else. This just might be a valid reason.
    • by arth1 (260657)

      I've been using Lycos Mail for over 12 years, starting out back when it was Mailcity, before Lycos bought them out. It definitely isn't the best e-mail service ever.
      Then why did you stick with them? I know it's a hassle to have to give others a new email address to use, but enough to endure substandard service for 12+ years?
  • MikeJandreau.com

    Just comes up as a blank page.

    "There is nothing higher than my blank page!"

    What a goofus.
  • by Canthros (5769) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:19PM (#17865200)
    Having clicked through the Consumerist write-up to the aggrieved customer's blog, it looks like the customer in question is being almost deliberately obtuse and the write-up at Consumerist is misleading.

    Whitney is complaining because she doesn't want to pay for an upgraded account to get her emails back (apparently, there's a policy on that: inactive accounts can recover mail lost that way by upgrading to a paid account--not that unusual, IIRC, a half-dozen years back, and undoubtedly a valuable revenue stream for Lycos). Reading between the lines a bit, she's probably made herself a PitA by demanding that the CSRs do something they have no ability to do. (Remember that the key to a business isn't keeping every customer: it's keeping the customers that are making you money. Free email accounts probably aren't making Lycos much money, especially ones that nobody is using.)

    Yeah, Lycos looks like a bunch of jerks here. I'm not saying otherwise. But I find myself in disagreement with the Consumerist's claim that they owe her a paid service for nothing just because they're jerks. Sorry about your luck, Whitney: in the future, don't store your email with Lycos.
  • by DigitalCrackPipe (626884) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:19PM (#17865204)
    While Lycos is certainly not earning any customer service points (I wouldn't do business with them), my sympathy for anyone for losing email stored online is minimal. While many online services are very reliable have been around for years, there are no guarantees. Any data stored exclusively on a remote server is unimportant data, particularly if the service is free. The only way to ensure your data is not lost to you is to have direct control over it.

    I think the crux of this matter is how insulting Lycos is to the user community (or at least one user). Perhaps it is a reminder of how spotty support can be for free services. Everything is often great, but occasionally support drops out completely, without the recourse (and support) that paid services usually offer. Enjoy things while you can, but don't expect them to stay the same forever.
  • Free service (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Traa (158207) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:20PM (#17865226) Homepage Journal
    I expect several people to come up with the "thats what you get for using a free service" reply. I'm wondering what advise those people have when someone considers using a free operating system?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm wondering what advise those people have when someone considers using a free operating system?

      RTFM, n00b!

      </jk>
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smash (1351)
      This is exactly what you get if Linux or any other free O/S deletes your data for no apparent reason. HOWEVER if you read the EULA for Windows, it is ALSO exactly what you get if Windows does the same thing.
    • 1-800-DEV-NULL
  • This reminds me of the customer service at the old INS. It was pretty bad and all because I guess they figured that dealing with non-citizens they didn't need to exercise anything like courtesy. Anytime you're not paying for a particular service, watch out if you have any trouble. Only money talks in the ears of corporates out to make a buck. No one wants to lose a paying customer, but someone getting free stuff, eck! Oh, and seeing ads doesn't count as payment, ever.
    • This reminds me of the customer service at the old INS. It was pretty bad and all because I guess they figured that dealing with non-citizens they didn't need to exercise anything like courtesy.
      Who says civil servants have to be civil?
  • I'd much prefer an answer like this, than the usual bullshit you'd expect from a customer service manager that would amount to the same thing.

  • In the last year or two, it became horrifically spammy and was often down, so I phased over to other email providers with better spam filters and more reliability.

    ... and didn't print off important e-mails, or forward them to the new provider. Poor customer service aside, they didn't exactly do themselves any favors here. If you're not going to use a service, then clean house and move on.
  • by Jester@TheHouse (79585) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:42PM (#17865684) Homepage
    What the hell has happened to personal responsiblity? Now the Customer service agent may have been gruff,(I haven't been able to read the blog due to it being dotted) but why can't people learn to understand the rules of the field here. They have their rules of deletion. She didn't follow them. They deleted them. They offer a service to retrieve them for a cost. She doesn't want to pay. What is the problem really here.

    I think it is time that people in the IT field need to practice more tough love, this doesn't give us the right to be assholes, but computers are everywhere, in every part of life. The average joe needs to do this stuff for himself now. No more hand holding. What is it with the mindset that "oh I can just be clueless about everything, someone will sort it out for me"?

    They offered to sort it out for her, for a cost. How were they to know she didn't abandoned the account?

    And on the flip side again to my fellow IT grunts. Don't be asses, don't use unneeded technobabble (some is really needed sadly to properly communicate with others about computers though), and f'ing document things. Offer your info and insight to others, let them learn the rules of the field.

    We all need to learn to be helpful not hapless.

    Ok, Captain Angry Pants is going to rest now.
  • Firing Customers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king-manic (409855) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:55PM (#17865922)
    Working in customer service, I can attest there are some customers that you should fire. These are the low to no profit customers who demands time and vastly over estimate their importance in the world. The ones who demand to speak to your VP or assume the media is interested in hearing of how the evil phone company cut their phone service just because they're 6 months behind on their bills.

    At some point a customer demands more then their current and future business is worth and you have to set your foot down. I suspect Ms. Whitney is one of these, and the lycos rep put his foot down. It happens fairly often but with more diplomatic language in every company. There is simply a certain class of person who such a hassle to deal with that you want to direct them to yoru compitition.
  • by curtlewis (662976) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:57PM (#17865942)

    There is no one higher than me that you will speak with.
    No one higher, eh? I guess he must be referring to drug usage because I'm sure he reports to someone.

    I'm not aware of any company where the Manager of Customer Support is equivalent to CEO/Chairman...

  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:59PM (#17865974) Homepage
    His response sucked. I'm a supervisor and if I was his boss, I'd have severely reprimanded him. At the same time, I have no idea what their complete exchange was because the sites have been /.ed.

    I will say this. If she's posting personal information and people are identifying him and sending death threats, I want this woman prosecuted, persecuted, and hung from her toenails. As a support rep, personally attacking someone and putting their life in danger is immoral and wrong on so many levels.

    1) You singled out a peon who works at a big company, even if he is the supervisor. He doesn't make policy, he only enforces it. Blame the company, not a single person.

    2) It's email. It's not a kidney transplant. You had a lot of opportunities to get it back, and it's not the end of the world. Okay, if one of the emails contains the formula for nuclear fusion or the location of your small child and you can't find it anywhere else, I'll understand. Otherwise get over it.

    3) You want help? Take the high road. This is the low road. To said "he's a jerk and I'm making fun of you for ever and ever." How mature is that?

    4) He's getting death threats. OMG I'm going to find YOUR address and YOUR picture and get a bunch of support reps to give you death threats, you stupid bitch, and see how you like it! Death threats are nothing to laugh at, and are completely over the top, no matter what he said about your email.

    5) I'm shocked and amazed at people who torment support reps as incompetant, rude, and unsocial. Do you realize how much shit we get thrown at us every day and how hard this job is because people like this? The nicer you are to me, the nicer I am for you. I get people yelling at me every day, and I help them, but I don't wanna, and I can't help that feeling. When I call someone for service, and I never yell at the person on the phone. I know form personal experience that being nice is the way to go. Now you've completely ruined your chance at ever getting your email back because, when an asshole pissed you off, you decided to be an even bigger asshole.

    He has every right to sue her, and I hope she gets taken to the cleaners. Yes I'm emotional about this because this is scary to me. You don't take out your petty problems on a support rep. The support rep is just a cog in a wheel. Keep it oiled and it will do the job, but don't take a wrench to it just because it won't do what the machine can't do.
    • by PietjeJantje (917584) on Friday February 02, 2007 @08:43PM (#17868040)
      >4) He's getting death threats.

      Puhlease! Let's rephrase that into, "According to Mike Jandreau, Mike Jandreau had 81 death threats last night."

      Not even Dubya receives 81 death threats a night. Since you didn't figure out yourself and you seem kind of emotional about it, let me asure you no one intends to kill Mr. Jandreau or has threatened to kill him. He was a mere asshole to a stranger. Maybe he got 81 mails telling him that? Maybe one teenager failing to be funny sending 81? Or maybe he's trying to extort the site into doing what he demands. That would be utterly tasteless and completely over the top. It would also conform to a pattern. Learning moment: whenever you throw in a "I got death threats" into the argument, be modest and start at just a couple, so you don't give it away straight away.

  • Bullcrap (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:54PM (#17866832) Journal
    I call shenanigans.

    From her own writeup (google cache [72.14.253.104]) she admits that she'd been using the service less and less. From the sounds of it, she hadn't been using it at all. But she was dumb enough not to forward her uberimportant emails to another account.
    And then, looking at the way her email quotes are cut, I think there was a lot more there that she chose not to share with us.

    Having been in the managers position before, I think he was harsh, but she's spinning this to make him look like a dick. She probably demanded to talk to the highest ranking C*O in the state. He didn't say "I'm the highest", he said "I'm the highest that you will be talking to", and I've said the same thing (in different words).

    I have the feeling that Lycos tried to explain to her, patiently, that her account had been deleted in line with the terms of service (and the disclaimer on their homepage [lycos.com]), and that restorations were only offered to people who were Plus (or Premium or whatever the fudge it was), and she went off the handle, accused them of "holding her emails hostage", used bad language, and got all snotty with them. At that point, they probably didn't want her business, I wouldn't either.

    The bottom line, is she did not log in within 30 days, as the homepage clearly says you have to do if you want to keep your account. Lycos told her what she had to do if she wanted her email back, she decided she didn't want to do it, said some bad things to them, and so they decided to tell her to go fuck herself. I say, good on ya, Lycos. Yes, customers deserve to be treated with respect, but it's gone too far in some cases, where privileged little fuckwads think they deserve everything they want, and anyone who says otherwise is mean, mean, mean. I think it's crappy that she's calling this guy out, selectively editing the conversation to make them seem like dicks, and especially crappy if it's true that people are starting to harass him.

    Were I him, I'd post the ENTIRE email chain online, not just her edited version... and lets see how sweet and innocent she really is.
  • What a asshole. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BoneFlower (107640) <george.worrollNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @03:49PM (#17875496) Journal
    "I'm sorry, but emails are subject to deletion after the account is not accessed for thirty days. While we understand your frustration and apologize for the inconvenience, there is no way to recover the lost emails. I will make a note on this ticket regarding your displeasure about the deletion policy."

    Thats how he should have said it. IF the emails are gone, they are gone and he couldn't help even if he wanted to. But there is no need to go asshole on the customer no matter how much the customer would dislike the answer, even if the customer is screaming at you.

    Or even a trick I've seen work well:
    "Ok, I understand your frustration. The emails have been removed, and backups are designed to cover disaster recovery rather than deletion per policy. If I can put you on hold for a few minutes, I'll check with our server admins to see if there is anything we can do" *Puts customer on hold and plays Nintendo DS for five minutes* "Ok, I checked with our admins, unfortunately they are unable to restore your emails from server backups"

    After one of the above, perhaps offer a courtesy credit if it's a pay service, maybe a temporary upgrade to a pay version of your free service, and the customer will be satisfied more often than not. Won't exactly be happy unless you are able to fix the problem, but they will accept the answer and be satisfied with the level of service they got in that call.

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