Nov 042008
 

If you’ve never had any problem with your Earthlink, good for you. I will warn you, though, that it is a ticking time-bomb and at some point you will feel the pain that you won’t feel from most other ISP’s. Here are the ways in which I think Earthlink is an inferior provider and recommend that you move to another ISP.

SPAM

I use Gmail and Yahoo mail and they do an excellent job of spam filtering without me even lifting a finger. Earthlink’s mail is so lame that when you write to one of its member –even to reply to a message they send you (!!!) — you’ll probably get a message that says:

I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.

To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand.

If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience.

Click the link below to fill out the request

What a ridiculous and old-fashioned way to handle potential spam ! I use free email services (Yahoo ! and Gmail) and few — if any — spam comes through, although scores are caught daily and put in the spam folder. Why can’t Earthlink block spam as effectively?

One quick fix would be to automatically add addresses from Outbox/Sent Mail to the safe list. After all, if someone has sent an email out, the obvious supposition would be that any reply back from this email address is legitimate. Or — better yet — toss the confirmation email concept and come up with a better tool for users — something like the spam reporting buttons that both Yahoo ! and Gmail offer.  Gmail has a little button at the top of the inbox labeled “report spam.” Whenever there’s spam, the user simply selects the message and reports it. This goes into a general database of known spammers, and spares other Gmail users from receiving email from that sender. Thus, a massive pool of useful information is created through the combined small efforts of a large group of users (hmmm, sounds like Wikipedia, donnit?).

They either don’t care about their customers, are using a terrible email application that they can’t fix and have convinced their users that this is the best solution possible.

The downside for Earthlink customers? When they do anything on the web that requires an activation email . . . well, good luck ! No computer program is going to respond to an email asking it to fill out a form and most businesses won’t be interested in the extra hassle.

CONNECTIVITY

Why does Earthlink make their high speed connectivity so complicated? Instead of a one-box option (as AT&T et al provide), Earthlink requires two separate network boxes, each one with its one complications and problems. And worst yet — two different vendors:the bridge, Zyxel (provided by Earthlink) and whatever router you buy (linksys, etc). This sets up cross-pointing fingers and — even if you buy the router from Earthlink, they will quickly fob you off to the vendor, who will quickly tell you it’s not them, it’s Earthlink or Zyxel.  Arrrgh !

I spent dozens of hours at a client’s house trying to set up the Earthlink connection and this is where I feel Earthlink really breaks down.

SUPPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

Every person I spoke with at the Earthlink support line was very helpful. And some even knew what they were doing.

The problem is that Earthlink has put together a very cheap support line infrastructure. It’s not that the help desk is in India or Pakistan, it’s that they have set it up so things can be escalated properly or re-routed to the proper group WITHOUT HAVING TO CALL THE EARTHLINK NUMBER AND GO TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PHONE QUEUE. And maybe that wouldn’t be a problem if each time I called Earthlink it took 20 – 45 minutes before I spoke to the first person.

The phone tree at Earthlink is complicated. Do you have high speed Internet PLUS Earthlink bundled together? Apparently that requires a different set of choices while on the phone tree than if you just have Earthlink DSL. So spend 25 minutes on hold, spend 10 minutes talking to a customer service agent and then be told you need to talk to another group. “Is there a direct line to this group?” I ask. “Yes, it’s 1-800-327-8454? — of course, that’s 1-800-EARTHLINK.

IT AIN’T JUST ME — IT’S ALL OVER THE INTERNET

Think I’m ragging too much on Earthlink? Google “I hate Earthlink” (seriously) — there are lots of folk really ticked off with them:

(and here are my favorite domain names)

AND THE CORKER IS . . .

. . . during all the hours on hold you have to hear how highly their support is rated by JD Powers. Despite the fact that CNET reports Earthlink laid off 900 staffers.

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