FTC Revised Guides for Online Advertising and Marketing

Online advertising has to follow the same rules and regulations as other forms of advertising; rules and guidelines intended to protect consumers and businesses alike.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the United States Government agency responsible for enforcing these laws.

In its simplest form, the entire concept is this:

Advertising must tell the truth and not mislead consumers.
In addition, claims must be substantiated.

Readers should note that this does not reflect a change in the laws or regulation, but in the Guides to compliance as issued by the FTC.  The last time the FTC revised the Guides was 1980.  This latest revision goes into effect today, December 1, 2009.

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1and1 Incompetence, Day 136

April 23, 2009 2:41 PM:
From David Rubel, 1and1 Billing Manager:

Dear Brian Gothard, (Cust: XXXXXXXX)

Thank you for contacting us.

This is David, billing department supervisor. We are going to credit your account $152.83 and zero out your balance. We will also require you to update your payment method to a valid credit or debit card using the process below. If you do not do this we will unfortunately have to cancel this account as we require a valid payment method on file. I truly do apologize that this occurred and hope we can regain your trust as a valued customer once again.

If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact us.


Sincerely
David Rubel
Billing Department
1&1 Internet Inc.

NO customer service skills whatsoever! STILL making demands! Continue reading

OPEN LETTER TO ANYONE AT 1AND1 WITH COMMON SENSE

I contend that 1and1 as a company consists of incompetent thieves and liars, and you continue to provide me with evidence of those facts?

The response below is typical of your “customer service”. Blame the customer and play stupid. I will try to make this as simple as possible.

This is a copy of the domains on the invoice you claim you will not be issuing a refund for.

Please address each individual line item with the exact reason the referenced Cancellation ID was not completed as your system confirmed it would be. I will be happy to provide each individual confirmation email sent by your system if you cannot find them. I kept copies.

Also explain why, if the cancellations were not completed as your system confirmed, the domains are no longer in my account, and are currently in “Redemption Period” status? I unlocked them, but all transfer requests are being denied.

Does ICANN need to look into that?

Also please explain how you were able to renew domains that were transferred to a competent registrar prior to the dates you claim to have renewed them. The transfers of 4gclick.com, broadcastyoursite.com, businesspressroom.com, and obamalies.org to GoDaddy all completed on March 15. How exactly were you able to renew the domains AFTER they were transferred?

Please also note that that is 7 days from the date the transfers were requested, when ICANN requires you to accept it within 5 days. I will be issuing individual complaints on those.

As for the domains with no Cancellation ID listed, please explain why over twenty requests by email and fax beginning on January 10 have not been sufficient to result in the cancellation of those domains. I received responses from Damion Son, David Rubel, and Brett Neally confirming that the signed faxes were received, and I have dozens of emails proving the same.

Those domains were fraudulently charged to my account in January for expirations in December, during a period of time when 1and1 denied me any means of canceling those domains, again in contravention of ICANN policy. I had absolutely no access to nor control of my domains for 7 ½ weeks. If I keep getting the runaround I will issue individual complaints to ICANN about each of those, also. That would be 277 complaints, but I am almost willing to do it already after the way I have been treated.

Do you truly want to continue providing more proof of your incompetence? Do you want me to continue to issue complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, and ICANN?

Do you want me to join the growing number of people calling for a class action lawsuit regarding your unethical business practices?

Or would someone with at least a little bit of common sense like to take over and get to the bottom of this? I have done nothing wrong. I have made every attempt to explain your errors and get them fixed, and you keep blaming me for your incompetence.

Here it is as simply as I can present it:

(Spreadsheet moved to external page.  Click to view Summary of Fraudulent 1and1 Charges.)

I do not want to hear from Damion Son, David Rubel or Brett Neally. I want to hear from their boss, whoever that may be. Or are you afraid you will get fired for creating this mess in the first place?

I Hate 1and1

Brian Gothard

http://RippedOffConsumers.org

—–Original Message—–
From: complaints@1and1.com [mailto:complaints@1and1.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 1:56 PM
To: Brian Gothard
Subject: C127942769 Re: Public Challenge Issued – Prove Me Wrong

Dear Brian Gothard, (Customer ID: XXXXXXXXX)

Thank you for contacting us.

The latest invoice that was generated on the account was for the domain

name renewal in the month of March. The previous issue was regards to

the invoice that was generated in the month of January due to the during

the transfer process.

Unfortunately we will not be refunding the account for the domain names

on the latest invoice on the account.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Damion Son

Customer Service

1&1 Internet

1and1 Incompetence, Part 6

From my last post, Damion Son, supposedly “upper management” according to david Rubel, asked for the list of domains to refund, although i had sent it a dozen times already.  I sent it again.

Here is his reply:

From: complaints@1and1.com
Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 2:01 PM
To: Brian Gothard
Subject: C122680964

Dear Brian Gothard, (Customer ID: XXXXXXXXX)

Thank you for contacting us.

I have spoken with our billing department regarding this matter.  They have informed me that you would need to fax a list of domain name that you wish to cancel with your signature.  And we can set those domain names to cancel and refund the account regarding the domain names.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


Sincerely,
Damion Son
Customer Service
1&1 Internet

OK, this time they want it faxed.  This is completely outside their normal procedures and is listed nowhere in their terms and conditions, but I am willing to do what it takes.  So, I made a nice spreadsheet identical to their invoice, and identified each line item as “Keep” or “Cancel”.  I signed it and faxed it to both Damion Son and David Rubel.

One thing I have not mentioned:  the February invoice was wrong, too.  So, I did the exact same thing, and faxed them both together on March 10.  Then I emailed a PDF of the fax to Damion.

They issued a credit for the entire February invoice the same day.  They were not supposed to.  They credited domains that were not supposed to be cancelled as well as those that were.  They did not touch the January invoice which is causing all the problems, and the February invoice was not enough to cover the discrepancy.

I notified Damion Son of this fact by email and fax the same day.

On March 18, I once again sent Damion Son and David Rubel a request for the status of this issue by both email and fax.  No response.

I sent it again on March 23.  No response.

That gets us to the present.  I will post updates here as they occur.

If you waded through all of this, thank you.  It is a whole bunch of information, and i really don’t expect anyone to read all of it, but I hope the deluge makes enough of an impact that people are warned about just how bad 1and1 is.

1and1 Incompetence, Part 5

Continuing proof that 1and1 is incompetent, dishonest, and cares nothing about their customers.

Just a quick recap.  A transfer of 270+ domains was requested on December 8.  1and1 was unable to complete the tranfer until January 15.  During this period, the domains were inaccessible in my account.  1and1 is attempting to charge me for 17 domains that expired between December 15 and January 3; domains I had no ability to cancel and did not want.  They have locked my account, denying me access to over 150 domains that are fully paid and not in question.

I have issued complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission.

1and1 has thus far ignored every request to fix this issue and they keep blaming me for their internal system failures.

That’s where this site comes in.  Since 1and1 continues to ignore my complaints, I decided to tell my story here in hopes that I can warn someone else before they subject themselves to 1and1’s atrocious customer service.

Here is what I sent to David Rubel, Billing Manager, and everyone else at 1and1:

From: 1and1 Complaints [1and1complaints@rippedoffconsumers.org]
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 3:34 AM
To: ‘David.Rubel@1and1.com’
Cc: ‘billing@1and1.com’;
‘marketing@1and1.com’; ‘redemption@1and1.com’; ‘complaints@1and1.com’;
‘sales@1and1.com’; ‘support@1and1.com’
Subject: FW: CXXXXXXXXX Re: FW: ATTN: David Rubel FW: KXXXXXXXXX Reminder

Hi, David.

I’m sending this to every address I can find at 1and1 because I’m not sure you are getting my messages, and I really want to make sure you get this one.  At least you choose not to respond to them.

Maybe you’ve just been busy.  I guess with all of the BBB and FTC complaints you have to deal with it must get pretty hectic around there.  I saw in my research that you do get a huge number of those.  Sorry I had to initiate my own, but your customer service really stinks.

You still have not corrected my invoice so I can pay you, even though I have submitted proof on a dozen occasions that I had no ability to cancel the domains due to 1and1’s internal technical problems.

Just in case you have forgotten the details (although after a dozen reiterations I don’t see how), here are the pertinent details:

The contract transfer was requested on December 8, 2008.

On December 10, 2008, Employee Name Removed acknowledged the request and promised a 24 hour completion.  (I sent you the email.)

December 18, 2008, Employee Name Removed acknowledges that they are still having trouble transferring the contract.  (I sent you the email.)

December 22, 2008, Employee Name Removed acknowledges that they are still having trouble transferring the contract.  (I sent you the email.)

January 7, 2009, YOU, David Rubel, admitted the problem, and promised Mr. Seller it would be completed that day.

The domains were not placed into my account until January 15, 2009.  That was the first time since December 10 that anyone outside of 1and1 had any control whatsoever over the domains.  I could not cancel what I could not access.

Every one of the domains in question expired between December 20, 2008, and January 3, 2009.

I had no ability to cancel them.

My account is locked, so I can’t change my DNS entries, therefore I cannot redirect any of my 240+ domains to the websites I am building to generate revenue.  That includes all of the domains that have not expired.  You are denying me access to domains I own that have nothing to do with this invoice dispute.  You are now costing me money.

The good news is that in the same bulk domain purchase I picked up another great domain, and I have been working to get it online.  Luckily, it is registered with a competent registrar, so I have not been denied access to it for even one day, much less the six weeks you cost me trying to transfer the contract, and now two more weeks because you can’t remember to fix my invoice.  You can visit it at http://RippedOffConsumers.org.  I really think it’s going to be very popular once I get some good content posted.

Listen, I know you are very busy, but I think you should be able to spare a few minutes to correct my invoice so that I can pay it and we can move on.

I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,
Brian Gothard
http://RippedOffConsumers.org

David Rubel never replied.  I didn’t hear a word for five days, when I received this:

From: complaints@1and1.com
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 10:33 AM
To: Brian Gothard
Subject: C122680964

Dear Brian Gothard, (Customer ID: XXXXXXXXX)

Thank you for contacting us.

I apologize for the delay of response.  We have further review the account with our billing department regarding this matter.

Please provide us a list of the domain names that you wish to have canceled and refunded.  I apologize for the frustration this may have caused you.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


Sincerely,
Damion Son
Customer Service
1&1 Internet

Hmmm, Damion Son is the name David Rubel claimed was the “upper management” person looking into the original transfer problem.  He is the one who was supposed to fix this originally.  Considering that I have sent that list over a dozen times already, his apologies are not helping much.

But, I sent them again.  With the whole story included.

Next post – Damion’s response

1and1 Incompetence, Part 4

Continuing proof that 1and1 is incompetent, dishonest, and cares nothing about their customers.

Where were we?  Oh yeah, my account is now locked because I refuse to pay a fraudulent invoice.  1and1 is trying to charge me for domains I had no ability to cancel because they were incapable of transferring the contract for over a month.

David Rubel, the Billing Manager, is pretending all of this is my fault and ignoring my messages, even after I have submitted proof on multiple occasions.

So, on February 16, I issued a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding their dishonest business practices.  I sent the reference number to David Rubel, along with another outline of the entire situation.

Here is his reply:

From: billing@1and1.com
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 12:21 PM
To: Brian Gothard
Subject: CXXXXXXXXX – 1&1 Internet Inc. Billing Re: ATTN: David Rubel
FW: KXXXXXXXXX Reminder

Dear Brian Gothard, (Cust: XXXXXXXXX)
Thank you for contacting us.

Please provide me with an incorrectly charged domain, as my records now show the contact with the domains are on this account and they were correctly invoiced.

Unfortunately the rest of your email are features we just do not offer at this time, except for the cancellation of domains as at any time you can go to can go to cancel.1and1.com to cancel a domain.

If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact us.


Sincerely
David Rubel
Billing Department
1&1 Internet Inc.

Can you believe this?  His records show the domains were correctly invoiced?  Again, I question whether he is that incompetent, or intentionally stonewalling me.  I cannot believe anyone is this stupid.  I have sent him emails every three or four days for several weeks with a complete explanation, and spoken with him on the phone!

So, I once again sent him the list he requested, and the entire history, with full documentation.

I sent it again on February 18.

And again on February 24.  This time I added every 1and1 email address I had been able to acquire.

On February 25, I received instructions from complaints@1and1.com on how to cancel domains.  It did not address any of the real problems, just blamed me once again for not knowing how to cancel domains.

That was the day I submitted my complaint to the Better Business Bureau.  1and1 has an “F” rating, the worst you can get.  They have hundreds of complaints, proving that 1and1 does not care about their customers.

I sent the reference number to everyone at 1and1. No one cared enough to respond.

On February 27, I sent another request that they fix my invoice so I could pay it.  Never received a response.

Not being one to just sit down and shut up, I still refuse to just pay the incorrect invoice.  1and1 created this situation, and I intend to make them fix it.

Next post: RippedOffConsumers.org is born!

Sick and Tired of Getting Ripped Off?

If you are like me, you are fed up with being treated unfairly by big companies.  Once upon a time, the customer was always right.  Businesses realized that only by satisfying their clients could they hope to grow and prosper.

Smart companies still operate that way today, but there are those which have made it their practice to treat their customers like garbage.

Disposable clientele.

They believe that if that customer is not happy and decides to leave, they will just pick up another one or three to replace them.  And sadly, many times that is true.  With thousands of new people getting on line every day, it is not difficult to replace a customer or two.

But what these impersonal monoliths do not realize is that there are those of us out here who will not simply take their crap and move on.  We choose to warn others of our bad experiences.

We choose to stand up and fight.  We choose to spread our stories far and wide in the hopes that someone else can avoid repeating our mistakes.

For that purpose, I have established this website as a digital soap box.  I have a handful of customer service nightmares of my own to post here, and I will be partnering with other consumer advocacy sites to bring you more comprehensive information, but I want to hear your stories.

I am offering you a place to voice your complaint and strike a blow against unfair practices, bad customer service, and in some cases outright fraud. I will also be providing how to articles and links to resources where you can initiate effective consumer complaints, such as the Federal Trade Commission, your State Attorney General, various Better Business Bureaus and the like.

What can you or I do as one person?  Very little.

What can you AND I do, along with a few hundred thousand like minded individuals who are sick of being pushed around?  We can spread the word about these companies who choose to mistreat their customers and convince others to avoid putting themselves in the same situation.

Together, we can strike a blow against indifference and bring customer service back!

This site is in its infancy.  I am still working on a lot of the functionality, including the submission form, but you can submit your story for possible inclusion through our Contact Us page.  Make sure to include as much detail as possible, and be prepared to back up your claims.  I am not interested in undocumented bashing, because that does not do any good.  I want dates, names, and specific details.  Don’t worry if you are not a writer.  Submit your story and I will edit it for clarity.  I may need to contact you for more information before publishing. So, go ahead, click here to submit your story.

Make sure to bookmark the site and come back often to check up on the latest warnings.