The Pagan Hating Hacker theory
is gaining credibility with us by the minute. This is a story that
will only make sense if told from the beginning, and even then, it's very
I have had a personal account with Erols Internet since June of 1996. A few months after I paid the yearly fee for the account on my American Express Card, I begin to experience harassment from a self described "christian hacker" while on line. My account identification was assigned to another person (at the same time I had it), I was approached on IRC and preached to, sent hate e-mail, etc. by a man identified only as "Slasher". "Slasher" made it clear that he was an employee at Erols Internet when he messaged me on IRC and revealed that I had spoken to him when calling Erols to set up my new account. I gathered the logs and other information necessary to trace this individual and sent them to a Floor Director named "Gene", and several other managers within Erols Internet. After 2 months of crap, "Slasher" was finally identified and according to Erols management, his employment was terminated. I was never allowed to know this persons real name due to "privacy" issues, but I did get a nice apology from Erols management stating that Erols does not condone discrimination of any kind, and I was given 4 months free service for all my wasted time and trouble, so I was quite satisfied, and let the matter drop. Any company as large as Erols will get its share of hateful people working for it, and certain Erols' personnel ( Gene, Ravinder, Colleen, and others) worked very hard to track "Slasher" down.
A year later, in October of 1997 I received a renewal confirmation from Erols acknowledging that I had paid for another years worth of service. It listed my renewal date as 1/25/98. I don't recall what explanation Erols gave regarding this odd renewal date at the time. Since it arrived around the time I was preparing for the Gathering of the Tribes, I doubt I gave it much attention at all.
Now jump forward in time to September 1998. On September 8, 1998 I received a notice from Erols claiming that the charge card I used for my MONTHLY payments had expired. In this notice I was asked to provide Erols with a new credit card number. Since I had always paid on a yearly bases, never monthly, and since the card I had used to do so had not expired, I called Erols to find out what was up. After wading through a voice mail system that had to have been designed by a true sadist and about a 20 minute wait on hold listening to the same Erols ad over and over again, I was finally connected to a Customer Service Representative. I was told that the notice was a mistake (duh), and that it looked like someone had confused my account with another. I was also told that my account did not expire until January of 1999. I accepted the man's explanation and went to bed with the monotonous tones of the inane Erols Internet ad still ringing in my ears.
A few weeks later while I was out of town, yet another renewal notice from Erols arrived dated September 28, 1998. This one listed my expiration date as October 25, 1998. Once again, I was forced to call Erols and sit on hold for 30 minutes. This time however, I was only required to listen to elevator music. "So Erols has learned what any 4 year old knows, don't repeat the same sentence over and over again or mom goes nuts", I thought. Silly me.
I was finally connected to a Customer Service Representative called "Karen". When it became apparent that "Karen" could not answer the many questions I had, I asked to speak to a Supervisor. I was eventually connected to "Asante". I explained my problem to her in minute detail. I asked her to find out why I was getting these notices and which one of them was correct. She asked that I forward the notices to her so she could research them. She also requested that I contact American Express and find out exactly when payment had been deducted from my account, then she promised she would "get right back to me". This was Friday, October 9, 1998. I called her right back after I sent her the e-mail notices . I got her voice mail at extension 2614 and left a message telling her I had my American Express bill for October in hand. When "Asante" had not returned my call by 4:30, I left another message on her voice mail requesting that she do so. I repeated this process twice on Monday, and still received absolutely no response from her. On my third call Monday afternoon I went through the 30 minute wait again and demanded to speak to "Asante's" Supervisor. I was connected to "Madonna". Ironic huh? My God/Goddess has a sense of humor, how about yours? Please keep in mind, "Madonna", "Asante", "Karen", etc., may or may not be the real names of these individuals. Many large companies instruct their Customer Service Representatives to use code names, or only give out their first names, in order to protect their identities. Unfortunately, this is an understandable precaution to take in today's society. Regardless, these are the names they use to identify themselves to the general public on a regular basis. So now I am dealing with "Madonna". I forwarded her copies of the copes I had forwarded to "Asante". She promised to "get right back to me" , and she did. Four times in fact (isn't Caller ID grand?). The first puzzle to solve was why "Asante" had not logged my conversation with her on Friday, Oct. 9th into my account file at Erols. Supposedly, all calls to Customer Service are logged in detail, yet there was no mention of my call to "Asante" in my Erols account file. Neither was my earlier call regarding the expired credit card notice I received recorded in my file. I explained to "Madonna" that I now have two bogus notices, two unlogged complaint calls, and four unreturned phone calls that I would like explained. While she did call me back promptly, she did not have much useful information to offer. It seems that no one at Erols Internet keeps a copy of anything they send customers. The notice I received regarding the January renewal date is assumed to be a typo, but there is no record of it. The expired credit card notice I received is assumed to have been intended for someone else, but there is no copy of the actual mailing.
As for why "Asante" did not log my complaint, or respond to any of my e-mail or phone queries, "Madonna" said that "Asante" claimed not to have received any of the three e-mails I sent her. Where did they go? Since these e-mails were only a few days old, it would seem a simple matter to trace where they had gone with server logs or backup files, but evidently Erols is not capable of doing that either.
There is no explanation of why "Asante" failed to log my complaint in Erols' computer files.
As if all this wasn't enough, my Internet connection went bad promptly at 9:p.m. Monday evening after registering my complaints. I either could not connect at all, or if I could, it was a bad connection unable to transfer e-mail, messages, etc. After I checked to see if I could connect properly to my other providers (I have more then one account) I called tech support and once again sat on hold for 25 minutes. This time I got to listen to instructions on how to change my password ..... over and over and over again. If nothing else comes from this, I will always know how to change my account password. When I finally got to talk to a person, we had to check through all my computer settings, even though it was quite obvious that this was a sudden problem that occurred on Erols end. When we got to the point where an Erols Tech was suggesting that I should rename a file (which later turned out to be a file necessary to the proper running of several other programs) I asked to speak to a Supervisor. I got "Paul", who proceeded to try an convince me that the problem was in my machine, while I tried to convince him that the problem was on his end, perhaps being caused intentionally. After forty minutes of useless banter Paul announced that he had just received word that they were experiencing router problems in my area. This happened over an hour after I informed them that I was having a problem with my connection. To make the situation even stranger, I called a local friend who also has an Erols account, and who dials in to the same phone number that I do. She was not experiencing any difficulties at all.
So now I have four unreturned phone calls, three lost e-mails, two erroneous notices, two unlogged complaints, and a unstable Internet connection. Coincidences? Maybe .... but it sure is suspicious.
If there is not someone at Erols intentionally yanking my chain, then Erols Internet Service has turned into one of the most disorganized, inefficient, irresponsible companies I have ever had the misfortune to deal with.
Either way, the moral of this story is DON'T SIGN ON WITH EROLS INTERNET! Its just not worth the hassle! You too could wind up writing your own "12 days of Erols" saga.
At best, they have raised their rates to become one of the most expensive providers out there after delivering a year of unreliable and troublesome service to someone who paid for an entire year in advance. At worse, they employ a vengeful hacker who enjoys screwing up the account of someone he or she doesn't like.
One of the most painful things I had to do was sign up for another 6 months of service, but I had no choice. I couldn't just cancel a personal account I have had for two years with no notice to friends and associates. It will take me at least 2 months to notify all the list servs I belong to of an address change. Yes, Erols had me by the short hairs, so they got another $90.00 out of me, but it is the last of my money they will ever see. I can only hope that reading about my experience with Erols Internet prevents someone else from going through such grief. If it does, then my time and money will not have been wasted after all.