I've had a domain name registered at 1&1.com for four years. No complaints, decent price ($9.99/yr) and good customer support when I needed it. The other day a representative from 1&1 called me, cold-call out of the blue, to tell me about their new hosting service, MyWebsite. We chatted for a bit and I told him that I'm no fan of dumbed-down WYSIWYG programs, which is what MyWebsite sounds like, because for over a decade I've yet to see one truly deliver on the promise of WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG programs almost always have severely limited capabilities. Anything sophisticated has to be done in HTML - and often, clean custom coding in HTML gets turned into really overblown gobbledegook once "MyWebsite" or ever gets hold of it.
The guy kept pushing to sell me the free trial, and I kept telling him I would check it out on my own and get back to 1&1 if by some miracle they'd figured out how to make a really better web editor. He wouldn't stop selling, kept repeating how great the package was. Finally I had to explain to him that it was long past time for him to have said, "Thank you" and hung up and tried another customer. I did that about three times and finally he hung up.
The next day I received an email from 1&1 congratulating me that I'd signed up for a MyWebsite account, that it was online, and that I'd be being billed as soon as my free trial was over.
I replied with an email stating that I had in no way signed up for any such thing, and directed them to void any such new account immediately.
I got back an email telling me to cancel the account myself and giving me an online URL to do so.
I sent back an email repeating my prior email and threatening to drop 1&1 as a domain customer if they didn't cancel the account themselves. Why should I undo their mistake? Why should I have anything to do with it? So they could claim that I agreed, but then cancelled, so no problem?
I got back an email exactly like the previous one, telling me to cancel the account myself. Form letter.
I called 1&1 support. I waited 10 minutes to get someone. "Flora" asked for my account number. I asked to speak to a supervisor, as my real concern extended to getting the real problem - the behavior of the person who called me - corrected. I doubted that a downline support person would be able to do that. She told me that the supervisor was unavailable. I asked for the supervisor's name. She got annoyed. She told me his first name and last initial. I asked for his last name. She told me "I don't have to give it out." I asked her when the supervisor would be available. She said he was out to lunch and would be back in 30 minutes. I left my phone number and asked her to tell the manager to call me back. She repeated that the supervisor was out, in a VERY annoyed way. By this time I was very angry. She took it personally and started yelling at me. I shouted over her that as a company representative, she had no business EVER yelling at a customer, and hung up.
50 minutes later, after no call from the supervisor, I called again and again waited 10 minutes to be answered. Got another support person, "Nora," who as usual first asked for my account number. I again asked to speak to a supervisor. She told me that he was unavailable. Told her about my previous call and how no one had called me back. Again she just repeated that the supervisor was unavailable. I asked her if her training required her to say only that, and couldn't she offer some more helpful response, such as taking my number and having the manager call me back? That gave her pause, and she offered to help me herself in what seemed like a really genuine way. I told her that I could very easily delete the new account myself from the 1&1 Control Panel, which I was already on, in fact but I didn't want to, and didn't want her to, because that would destroy evidence of what had happened and create the impression that I had something to do with this account, when in fact I had nothing to do with it. I didn't want any of my "fingerprints" on the account. That's why i wanted the supervisor, to get the real problem taken care of, so it wouldn't happen to other people. Nora then assured me that she could not only delete my newly signed up account, but would definitely make a report and send it to the Complaints department, where they could pull the phone call records and take care of the guy who signed me up without my consent. I let her do this. She asked for my password, which I didn't really like, but I gave it to her, and she said it was taken care of. I felt that I'd got the best I was going to get.
In retrospect I wonder if the support people aren't trained to handle complaints like this because probably few people bother to push back, not enough to keep 1&1 from raking in a lot of cash from 1&1 customers who don't realize they've been signed up for an additional automatic debit. Nora was so ready to do this, it didn't sound like anything unusual. Nice racket. I bet well over 50% of customers don't realize that their billing just increased. Makes it worthwhile on the bottom line to engage in that kind of shoddy practice.
Or maybe it was just the one guy, and he'll get reprimanded and retrained, or fired.
It's been an hour since this happened. I just checked my 1&1 Control Panel and the new account is still there.