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, Part 8

My continuing battle with 1and1’s fraudulent activities…

After creating all of those posts yesterday, I sent a notice to all of those 1and1 email addresses inviting them to visit this blog and read all about it.  It appears that struck a nerve with at least one 1and1 employee.  Here is what I received today:

Dear Brian Gothard, (Cust: XXXXXXXX)

Thank you for contacting us.

The balance that was released to collections was for the January invoice and not for the invoice that was refunded.

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

Brett Neally
Billing Department
1&1 Internet Inc.

Of course, since he was responding to an email I sent that said exactly that, I replied:

Yeah, that’s what I SAID!

The January invoice IS FRAUD!


His response:

Dear Brian Gothard, (Cust: XXXXXXXX)

Thank you for contacting us.

I’ve looked extensively through your case history and this is what we are willing to do. You previously sent an email with a PDF attachment for domains you wanted to cancel. Please reply back to this email with that list as plain text. We will then forward a case to have those domains removed from your account. We will then pull the balance from NCO financial and wipe it from our systems. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and we will work to try to resolve this issue.

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

Brett Neally
Billing Department
1&1 Internet Inc.

And my retort:

This is the 17th time I have submitted this exact same list.  By fax, by email, as an attachment, with and without signatures, to David Rubel, Damien Son, John Keefer, Complaints, Support, Billing, the BBB, the FTC, and whoever else I could find.  It is even posted several times at http://RippedOffConsumers.org.

But I will jump through yet another hoop.

And by the way, the way you phrased your response offends me.  I should hope you would be willing to correct your own errors.  I did not create this problem, 1and1 did, by screwing up the transfer for over a month in the first place and not granting me the ability to cancel these domains until almost a month later, then refusing to fix it in a reasonable time frame.  As you see below, I have been trying to get this fixed since January 10.  Your fellow employees have lied to me and given me the runaround for 2 1/2 months.  So thank you for being willing to do what should have been done in January.  I hope you mean it.

Then I pasted the January 10 email that I sent trying to fix this that included exactly the text list he is now requesting.  Remember, I have sent that same list over twenty times, in half a dozen formats.  Damion Son even made me print, sign, and fax it several weeks ago.  But now they need ANOTHER copy of it, even after he “looked extensively through your case history”.

I am not slamming Mr. Neally, yet.  He seems to genuinely want to make me go away.  I don’t get the impression he is actually sorry it happened, or even surprised, just that he wants me to shut up and go away.

And finally, at 2:18 PM CST today, I received this:

Dear Brian Gothard, (Cust: XXXXXXXX)

Thank you for contacting us.

Thank you for replying with this information. A case has been escalated to remove the account and balance from NCO financial. Please allow a few business days for this balance to be removed. I apologize it has take so long to resolve this issue.

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

Brett Neally
Billing Department
1&1 Internet Inc.

Now, that appears promising.  It is ironic that as I was reading this email message my phone rang.  Caller ID said NCO Financial.  I let the machine get it.

Mr. Neally has made promises that I only half expect to happen, just based on history.  I will have to wait and see.

But, as of right now:

1) My account is still locked, denying me access to the 235 domains I still have registered there that were never in question. (I now make sure to move them to a competent registrar before they expire.)

His message does not address when my account will once again be made available to me.

2) The January invoice has still not been credited, revised, or removed.  It still shows as “Payment declined”.

When I faxed the signed invoice corrections at Damion Son’s request the credit was issued within hours.  I will let you know.

3) There is still a Late Fee of $18.95 showing on my account.

Although every email message I get has some form of apology in it, I do not feel apologized to, if you know what I mean.  I feel more like they are apologizing for getting caught than out of any real concern for the hours I have spent trying to get them to correct their own errors.  Please excuse my language, but I do not feel like anyone at 1and1 gives a damn about me or the problems they have caused.

I understand that companies make mistakes.  It cannot be helped.  But when they first of all refuse to acknowledge the error, then try to blame it on the customer, then continue to antagonize that customer at every turn, that company does not deserve to be in business.

1and1 is just not reliable, ethical, or competent.

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.

Brian Gothard

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.

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