Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Follow the Bouncing E-mail

My daughters have been complaining about not receiving my e-mail attachments. Now, they tell me they are not even receiving my e-mails. They have a lot of company. My e-mails are bouncing back faster than I can hit “send” — well, my emails to anyone@charter.net, anyway. I had no idea how many people are on Charter. This is not good.

Nothing that involves the Internet is easy. It always has multiple steps, and this is no exception. I start by calling Charter, who tells me, “It’s not our fault. If your e-mail comes from your website, you will have to call your website host.” My website host says they can’t find anything wrong on their end; I should call Charter again. This gives me an instant stomachache.

Being technologically advanced, Charter has a female computer that tries to read my voice by asking me ridiculous questions to which there are no correct answers. Eventually, I give up and say “representative.” Wrong word. How about “operator”? Still wrong. “Agent?” Bingo.

Next step: the endless wait. Despite the fact that my call is important to them, I go into a loop that plays endless commercials for Charter, until a human being finally shows up and asks me for my PIN, which I don’t know. Somehow, he accepts one of the numbers I give him and tries to identify my problem. The agent gives up, says he will connect me with a supervisor, and puts me on perma-hold. The supervisor does not appear. Eventually, I am cut off.

This goes on for a while until I have a tantrum and actually get to speak to a real, live supervisor. I try to explain that all of my e-mails are coming back with an error message that indicates I’m sending SPAM. He suggests I forward the offending message (which one?) to postmaster@charter.net. "How can I do that if I can’t get through to Charter?" I ask. He prevails upon me to try. My e-mail bounces back. He gives me his private e-mail address and finally deduces that Charter doesn’t like my e-mail signature with its little ghost and links to my website, blogs, and twitter.

"Do my daughters really need my signature?" he asks. "Can I write the postmaster@charter.net from another e-mail address?" These suggestions are followed by a serious explanation of SPAM with which I am quite familiar, since a lot of it gets through, although, of course, not my little ghost logo or twitter link.

That whole procedure (four phone calls) takes over an hour, and I still haven’t begun to implement the supervisor’s multiple solutions. At the moment, I am too tired to even try. I only hope no one from Charter is expecting a reply to his or her e-mail message before tomorrow, or, perhaps, ever.


Catherine Franz said...

I thoroughly understand your frustration. I too went through this very similar experience, Verizon said it wasn't their issue and GoDaddy said the same thing. But my emails weren't getting through.

I spent a five days trying to solve it with each phone call from someone telling their emails to me were bouncing.

Orders were getting lost too. Oh, shoot that's my revenue.

So, I had to logically go through each step myself, marking what was happening and when beginning with reinstalling Outlook and setting up that whole process again.

At the end of the process was another 2 hour call to Verizon and they too told me the same thing -- it was my e-mail signature. I kept telling them that was for outgoing email and I wasn't having a problem with outgoing e-mail, I was having a problem with incoming email.

Finally, the Verizon person put me on hold for 20 minutes and came back and said they couldn't help me. But while on hold, the last five minutes, my email began working correctly and my inbox filled up.

Aham. It was something on their end after all I told them because magically now it was working. They claimed it wasn't and they hadn't done anything.

Funny how things just magically begin working when on hold.