Much that once was is lost, for none now live who have Root access to it....
It began with the forging of a Yahoo! Group. It was a Private group with closed membership, only 12 of us, best friends all over this part of the world staying in touch. Every day we shared each other's lives played silly online games laughed a little, cried a little and just did what friends do... make every day seem a little brighter.
But like all good epics things never stay happy and peaceful for long. No one wants to read that.
This peace was not to last for a darkness crept over our happy little world. A malevolent shadow whose cold, cruel hand threatened to destroy all that we held dear. We had heard whisperings of this nameless evil, rumors that it was slowly and nefariously spreading out, consuming, driving hearts to despair. We would fight, I said, but we were completely unprepared for the scope of its power.
The dreaded Post Delay
(Too dramatic? I'll dial it back a bit.)
It all began a year ago last February, yes, I said February, 2006. Posts to our group weren't showing up on our group board or in email. at first the delay was an hour, which was annoying. Then it was 2, then four. So I did what any good list mum would do. I contacted Yahoo Customer Care. And I waited, and the delay grew to 6 hours and I waited, then eight. With no response from Customer Care I did the only thing I could think of to stay in touch with those I cared about most. I set up a backup.
And we waited.
A week and a half later the problem slowly corrected itself. We went back to our online home relieved that the evil had passed.
Two weeks after I reported the problem to Customer Care I got an automated response telling me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the system and either my email was to blame or I was just too stupid to use a Yahoo group.
There we stood in the ruins of our happy little virtual village and Yahoo! was telling us that the acrid smell of smoke was a figment of our overactive imaginations. Granted our imaginations are pretty good but I didn't think they were that good.
I did what every good list mum does, however. I assured everyone the danger had passed and we were home now and we would begin rebuilding. Everything would be fine, I said.
And then March came.
We evacuated twice in March. If it was another figment I never heard from Yahoo! about it. I sent a total of 10 support requests during the two weeks total our group was down. They ignored them all.
By April the group was down more than it was up. About 60% of our time was spent on the backup. I got an automated response from Yahoo! Customer Care about every 15th request I sent. All of them were slightly insulting in that they either implied that I didn't know what I was doing or didn't even have any relation to our problem. Every week the same Customer Satisfaction Survey landed in my email box asking me if I was happy that the issue was still unresolved.
This is actually starting to sound more like the Twilight Zone now that I think about it... maybe I should change the opening score.
This bitter path of destruction continued on into July. I got at least 5 responses from Customer Care that it was a problem with my Yahoo! Mail (I've never had Yahoo! Mail) By August we were emotionally exhausted. True it seemed the worst had passed. The group was now accessible about 65% of the time. But we'd lost some of the magic. Our little virtual home was no longer a safe have from the outside world where we could escape. Seven months had passed and we still hadn't had a response from a human.
I resolved that someone would give me an answer. I spent an entire weekend digging until I found a phone number for Yahoo! and I called them.
I talked to a receptionist and asked to speak with the supervisor in charge of Yahoo! Groups. I waited on hold half an hour and got a young man.
Supervisor: How can I help you?
List-Mum: You can start by telling me who you are.
Supervisor: I'm the Service Director for Yahoo! Groups.
List-Mum: What you don't have a name?
Supervisor: What can I do for you?
List-Mum: I knew it... the joint is run by androids. Well if you don't have a name you can tell me when someone with a name plans to answer the support request I made in February.
BicentenialSupervisor: Your support request for what?
List-Mum: For my non functioning Yahoo! group... isn't that the division you supposedly direct? Why would I ask to talk to you if I had a problem with IM?
BicentenialSupervisor: Well I don't know anything about that.
List-Mum: You're not alone in that. I didn't expect to get a support tech on the phone or anything but since I've been waiting for seven months I don't think it's too much to ask to have you contact one of your techs give him my email and tell him to contact me so we can trouble shoot this
BicentenialSupervisor: Well I can't do that
List-Mum: You can't do that because you don't have any techs or you can't do that because answering a support request violates Yahoo! customer care policy.
BicentenialSupervisor: We don't offer phone support for Yahoo! Groups
List-Mum: I'm not asking for phone support. I'm asking for a smart little geek with Root to email me!
BicentenialSupervisor: Well I can't do anything to help you
List-Mum: You're really just the android janitor aren't you?
I continued sending support requests daily. Most were ignored. then came the ultimate insult to customer dignity....
Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Groups.
We would like to reassure you that we are investigating the problem you
reported. We apologize for any inconvenience, and appreciate your
patience and understanding on this matter.
Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.
Yahoo! Customer Care
Visit our online help pages at:
New and Improved Yahoo! Mail - better than ever!"
Cow?!?!?!?!!? (I'm not making it up, I swear) The automated response was actually signed Cow. There were only two viable solutions I could think of for this. The first that someone had actually named their child 'cow' seemed unlikely. The second, that I was indirectly being called a cow in the hopes that I would go away to avoid further abuse seemed more plausible.
I was undaunted, I would not fall to this poisoned barb. I would rally my forces for an all out assault.
This was war!
I turned to the only army that had ever stood by me. The Better Business Bureau
I logged the complaint on August 2 2006, detailing the lack of response. I included the long headers that showed which Yahoo router was consistently stalling and I awaited the response...
"A Yahoo! Groups Tech engineer has reviewed this issue involving message delays. This is a normal operating condition of the Yahoo! Groups product, it is transient and is most commonly due to the users mail provider service."
It was tantamount to calling me a liar. I told the BBB that I most certainly would not accept this response but Yahoo! refused to budge and the BBB closed the case. I was devastated, what was the use of an ally who turned tail and ran in the face of evil? I would never place my faith in the BBB at my side when I marched into war again.
The fight had not been knocked out of me, however. I pressed on, I fought daily. I continued to quest for a support response, an end to the darkness that threatened to destroy us. Many of those lost posts from February and March had still not returned and I would not have them die in vain...
(Too dramatic again? *blush* Sorry, I'll try to ease up.)
I set up an email script. It sent the same support request to Yahoo twice a day. They were now responding to only one of 50 so it was the only way I could be persuaded that anyone might even be reading any of them. I scoured the web searching for some chink in the Yahoo armor. Then I found it.... a lone human among the automatons of Yahoo!
The Yodel Anecdotal
It was a blog for future development news, actually written by people who appeared to be homo sapiens. It said more blogs were coming for more Yahoo devisions where we could keep up on the latest news and I felt the formings of a plan. The November 5th posting talked about the integration of Yahoo! Help and Yahoo! Answers and I saw my chance. I posted a comment in the hopes someone without a hard drive between their ears would read it.
"What’s the point of integrating anything into Yahoo Help? Yahoo help doesn’t have any humans there to be helpful. I’ve been requesting support for my group for over 9 months and, apart from the automated computer system calling me a ‘cow’ I haven’t had a response.
It sounds like another attempt by yahoo to ignore customers again to me."
One day. That's all it took, one day and I had a response from a very nice lady who shall remain nameless for fear that the forces of evil will find her and destroy her. (She did actually have a name though.)
She contacted tech via whatever back door they have at Yahoo! for me. Sneaking into their territory at the greatest risk.... no less than three times before I finally got a response.
It was at least, semi human, though it seemed a bit confused as to why I was disgruntled at having to wait until the 17th of November for a support response. They thanked me for my patience (which I no longer had) and promised to look into it.
Normal operation was back within 2 days... for the first time in a month. The delivery time slowly improved over December, and we were just breathing a sigh of relief when the evil descended again in January.
This time I had formed a plan. I rallied everyone I knew and besieged the new Yahoo! Groups team blog. Every few hours I reported the status of our group, I helped others form contingencies and I stated that I posted the status of these problems on the group home page and other Mums and mods should do the same. I called for users to refuse to form new groups and to boycott Yahoo! advertising and paid services until Customer Care improved.
The next day. There on the front page of every Yahoo! group was a special notice from the support team reporting the outage and promising to update the community on the status. It was the turing of the tide, the first glimmer of hope in our 11 month battle against the dark tower. We would rise, would would reclaim our homeland. The issue was resolved in less than 5 days and we returned to normal service for the next 6 weeks.
My group and most others on Yahoo! Are down again today. I have drawn my sword and declared once more that I will fight for true customer service. This time I am confident that in a matter of days we will rise victorious. Our year long struggle has not been in vain. If it takes us another year we will not stop until the evil is defeated. Until every lost post is laid to rest in peace until...
(Over the top again huh?)
I would like to ask the internet community to join me, to demand Customer Service and dignity from all online services. The label 'free' does not mean we are not paying for them through other avenues and at the very least we deserve respect. Until the Customer Service status at Yahoo is improved to an acceptable level I would like to ask everyone to not create new groups at Yahoo. Use another service. Don't sign up for any of their paid services. Don't click through on their advertisers. Already their stock price is edging downward and when it slips far enough they will be forced to deal with the problems they have created.
This day we fight... I bid you stand, Users of the Internet.