OH, I DIDN'T SEE YOU THERE

Well hello. I didn't mean to keep you waiting. Welcome back. For those that do not follow Gin and Tacos on the facebox, allow me to explain. No, the outage was not intentional.

The host of this domain name, Network Solutions, started bombarding me (and I presume other customers as well) with spam-like emails at the beginning of the year, making a concerted effort to sell various add-ons, "upgrades," and expensive marketing and promotion gimmicks. As any normal human being would do, I ignored it. Approximately two weeks ago they send an actual email along with the daily burst of spam and I had the random luck to notice and read it before it went to trash. This email stated that some part of WHOIS information was inaccurate (as is the case with approximately 99% of the registered domain names on the internet) and ICANN was going to enforce the shutdown of the domain name if I did not rectify the problem by Thursday, Feb. 19 by calling Web.com (Network Solutions' parent company) salespeople immediately.

I saw this for what it was – an effort to extort customers into calling so that we could have every superfluous marketing scheme and add-on service on Earth pitched to us. And they did this under the guise of the situation being beyond their control. It's not us! It's ICANN! We'd love to keep your site running but in order to make that possible you MUST update your WHOIS by calling Sean in the Web.com Sales Department immediately! Finding this tactic both insulting and silly, I simply went online and updated my WHOIS information. By Feb. 17 it was completely up to date and 100% accurate.

Well, they shut the domain name down on the evening of Feb. 19 anyway. I'm starting to suspect that despite their intense apparent concern, this really wasn't about ICANN or maintaining the integrity of WHOIS at all. It's almost as if they shut it down – and yes, I am completely paid up in advance for domain name registration with this company – because I didn't call to take their pitch about paying them to run sidebar ads on Facebook for me.

I called and navigated the most Byzantine web of automated menus to date before finally reaching a call center and being put on hold. Since this no doubt affected many other customers, I waited on hold for 53 minutes on Friday morning Feb. 20 before I had to give up due to, you know, having to do the job I get paid to do. Trying again on Friday night and wasting another ridiculous amount of my finite existence, I finally got through to a gentleman named Steve who, judging by his heavy to the point of obfuscation Bengali accent, might not really be named Steve.

Bengali Steve promised to "escalate" the problem and reactivate within 24 to 48 hours. When that did not happen, I called again on Sunday evening and went through the Sphinx's riddles again. This gentleman – Dylan or something equally implausible – regretted to inform me that Bengali Steve had meant 24 to 48 business hours. Meaning that this Time of Healing could not begin until Monday morning.

I got very busy as the week kicked into gear and when I checked in on Wednesday afternoon to realize that service had not been restored I did not have time to call immediately. But I did on Wednesday evening, spoke to yet another gentleman of the Subcontinent, and was told – go ahead and guess – 24 to 48 hours.

Beginning Thursday morning, however, I decided to go Full Retard on Network Solutions, emailing every email address I could find, sending Facebook messages to their account, posting repeatedly on their Facebook timeline, and calling as many numbers for Web.com's Atlanta-based office as I could find. I didn't care if I got a secretary, an IT professional, or the goddamn janitor. I spoke to several people, making various promises to wow them by demonstrating what could fit up their anal aperture with the application of sufficient force, and got transferred around like a furious potato. Finally some young man who clearly had to deal with hundreds of other angry customers over the past few days stayed on the phone with me until the problem was resolved. His explanation was that while I thought I had updated my WHOIS information, I had not included a fax number so ICANN forced Network Solutions to shut me down.

He said this in a tone that indicated that he he was under an obligation to pretend that he believed it. He was far too tired and irritated, though, to try to sell the farce. The upshot is that sometime Thursday afternoon, service returned.

I am going to rest and count my blessings tonight. Then tomorrow morning I will transfer my DNS to another company and begin the multi-day process of shitting repeatedly in a brown paper sack that ultimately will be mailed to Network Solutions. So, that is Gin and Tacos' tale of woe. Welcome back. If you use NS, please cancel your services with them immediately; swear at them creatively and profusely for good measure.

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85 Responses to “OH, I DIDN'T SEE YOU THERE”

  1. SiubhanDuinne Says:

    Ah. I asked for a rant, you provided a rant. And it was beautiful.

    Welcome back to YOU, Ed. I assume you'll have more tales of woe to share as you migrate the domain to another company. Good luck with that.

  2. SunilR Says:

    On behalf of Bangaloreans everywhere, keep blaming those damn Bengalis.

  3. Skipper Says:

    I had an account with NSI. I no longer needed it. I wanted to cancel it. I went through the same shit you did with this. Finally, I just cancelled the credit card they were charging and got a new number. I started getting frantic emails that I had to update my credit card information. I would just laugh. Finally, they stopped the account and left me alone.

    NSI is scum of the earth.

    Now, I want to stop my Vonage account. They gave me a number that belonged to a total deadbeat. I am still getting debt-collector robo calls. But you can't cancel your account online. You have to talk to a "retention specialist." I don't have the energy.

    Welcome back.

  4. Khaled Says:

    I have two toddlers, four cats, and a dog. If you need extra shit to get your point across, I will hook you up.

  5. OliverWendelHolmslice Says:

    Can we glitter bomb them?

  6. April Says:

    Sending a bag of shit reminds me of something I did years ago. Being a liberal (and thus getting liberal-minded magazines) I got on to PETA's mailing list. Now that everyone knows PETA is no friend of animals https://www.petakillsanimals.com/ it might be more understandable why I detested them. However, I've detested them from the beginning because, as an animal scientist, I know how important animal research is, and how heavily it is regulated.

    ANYway, I did as was the standard at the time. I put all their "send us money" mail back into their pre-paid envelop and sent it back. I did this a couple of times (to no effect) so then I included a letter saying I wanted my name taken off their mailing list. Still no effect. So….I collected my cats' feces until I had enough for a box approximately 12" X 8" X 4". I filled the box with the shit, and put a note on top of the box saying "I DON'T CARE IF YOU HAVE TO PAINT MY NAME ON YOUR WALLS! STOP SENDING ME YOUR SHIT!"

    And then I pasted the pre-paid envelop on the outside of the box as the address label. The postmaster asked if the recipients were expecting to receive this, and I assured them they were. (snicker snicker)

    Haven't heard from them since!

    You go, Ed!! (And welcome back!)

  7. Xynzee Says:

    Welcome back! I'll just sit here and main line some gin&tacos to overcome my withdrawals ;)

    As much as I love OWH's suggestion of the Glitter Bomb—what a lovely sight that would be to behold—I only have one reservation. The poor schmuck who has to open it is like "Bengali Steve" who has to cop abuse from irate customers because of some arseholes higher up have made a policy decision simply to piss off their customers*. Those arseholes are well and truly insulated from the results of their decisions. You'd have to send it registered mail to their personal address to really get the satisfaction you desire. All us in some way or another are a "Bengali Steve" and this is just another way for them to divide and rule.

    *I often wonder if there's some kind of competition by those who devise these policies and systems to see who can be the most socio-pathic. For to be either a game or sport to these people is the only thing that makes sense to me.
    The first time I encountered my own "hot racism"—the kind that involves bed sheets and pillow cases, as opposed just growing up in an white neighbourhood—was dealing with (now defunct) 3-Mobile "customer service" team. It was if every twist and turn was devised to make you more and more angry. So by the time you speak to someone you're already seething, then the scripts they have to play by is then to piss you off more and more. I found myself for the first time in my life cutting myself off, as the next tirade to come out of my mouth would be to degrade someone for the colour of their skin and their accent. I didn't, but I wasn't too impressed with myself.
    The only other thing is that they desire to create a sense of cowed despondency in their customers and people in general, so we merely give up.

  8. Xynzee Says:

    @April: never been a friend of PETA. But the story that blew my mind about their asshattery was the time they broke into a Spanish mink farm and "liberated" the caged minks into the surrounding countryside. They obviously have no idea where mink sit on the food chain. I could only think of the ecological devastation they'd unleashed upon the local fauna.

  9. Noskilz Says:

    Glad to see you're up and running again. Perhaps Network Solutions will discover it has alienated enough customers to see a noticeable hit to their bottom line, as I doubt much beside losing significant amounts of money will get their attention.

  10. Suttree Says:

    Hey Ed, glad to see you back up and running. I was concerned. I was just reading comments over at alicublog and heard you were back up. You are well loved on these innertubes! Keep up the good work. I need my daily dose of g&t!

  11. Chicagojon Says:

    Perfect closure. Words cannot describe how bemused I am at the thought of the www descending into chaos because g&t didn't have a fax number in its whois.

    The sad part is someone at NS will likely get promoted for this new sales initiative as it no doubt caught many in its rotten, slimy net of spam. I'm sure comcast will find a similar tact now that Obamainternet has made them a poor innocent pawn in a world of regulation.

  12. gregarious Says:

    Ed,

    I use hostgator – they are great; full service, inexpensive, and all their tech people can be reached 24×7 and are based in Austin. I assure you, Dylan will actually be named Dylan on his birth certificate.

    My 2 cents.

  13. Bess Bibbentucker Says:

    After a few days of not being able to access your site, I googled 'gin&tacos' & somehow found the facebook page or whatever it is, where you were posting some of your travails. Glad you're back up & running. I am going to have the T-shirt made: WE ARE ALL BENGALI STEVE

  14. NickT Says:

    Gosh. Ed, it's almost as if being fisted by the invisible hand of the free market (the destroyer of delights and sunderer of companies, peace be upon it) is not pleasant.

  15. HoosierPoli Says:

    It's utterly remarkable to me that in a day where an unanswered email can lead to a full police manhunt in twelve hours, businesses can still insist that a fully automated, computerized process, that takes 50 microseconds and costs nothing, needs two days and 20 bucks to complete.

    Here I'm talking about bank transfers, but it's equally applicable to your problem. JUST PUSH THE FUCKING BUTTON DYLAN.

  16. Alex SL Says:

    The invisible hand of the free market at work, right?

  17. anotherbozo Says:

    Ed, is it too late to ask you to be on the lookout for a provider that allows for a comment window with an edit button?

    Should I admit to my self-centered reaction when the site went down? "Oh, shit," I thought. "My generous contribution of a month ago–wasted!"

  18. Misterben Says:

    Great to have you back!

    When you leave Network Solutions, make sure they know why you're leaving.

  19. c u n d gulag Says:

    Whew,
    After some of your recent depressive musings, I had wondered if you'd gotten sick of blogging – or, worse.

    I'll be keepin' my eye out fer ya!

    PS:
    I'm sure these companies are profitable, but they always want more.
    As for Customer Service?
    They don't give a rat's ass!

    I call it Customer Disservice.

    Best of luck.
    Oh yeah – and FUCK THESE GREEDY BASTARDS

  20. Paul Says:

    I wondered what happened. Awful story, but I can't say I'm surprised… Network Solutions sucks. Assholes, one and all. Stopped using them years ago. When the time for your renewal comes, transfer the domain over to NameCheap.com; I have over 50 domains there and have never had an issue.

  21. Brian Says:

    I trolled their Facebook account and was pleasantly surprised how many other G&Ter's had already lit them up. Although to the gentleman that posted the high suicide rate in Bangalore, which I looked up is true, is depressing as hell.

  22. Rich Says:

    Having lived in Atlanta and having current problems with Atlanta-based Home Depot's delivery of a service vital to my kitchen remodel, I'm reminded that you should do anything possible to avoid dealing with companies based in Atlanta. Nothing good comes from it.

    The version of entrepreneurial spirit practiced there is all about short-term screws to people and most of the would be entrepreneurs are suckers chasing bigger suckers or low ball, unimaginative people looking for new ways to screw the public. You lived in Georgia, you should know this. The Bengalis are a feature, not a bug and a diversion from these clowns who run the company.

  23. Totoro Says:

    FWIW I use GoDaddy. No issues, no upsells. Haven't had to call anyone on the phone so not sure where Dylan will be.

  24. John Danley Says:

    This is exactly what Nick Bostrom has been warning us about.

  25. J.D. Says:

    Ed, I know you're somewhat anti-Twitter, but I just want to note that nothing gets a company's attention like a tragicomic customer service story tweeted at them. Even the most Comcastic companies generally react to tweets of customer abuse, because they know that if they don't, the story can blow up exponentially in a matter of hours.

  26. Emerson Dameron Says:

    As someone who had his own .com URL stolen by snipers out of relative laziness, I applaud your tenacity. Nice to have you back.

  27. Laurent Says:

    Hi Senor Tacos,

    I have been using GANDI.NET for DNS and VPS services, very satisfied, no bullshit ever on their part. I recommend them without reservations.

    Laurent

  28. Dookie Says:

    Started the day off with a new word – Byzantine. Now if I can just work it into a conversation today.

    Did you hear the FCC can pass laws now? I mean, who knew, right? The whole issue is Byzantine to me, very very Byzantine.

    Does that work? Seems clunky somehow.

  29. Pennelope Pennebaker Says:

    Glad to have you back, missed you.

  30. pathman Says:

    This is how the world works now. Every fucking thing is a scam of some sort. And people wonder why I'm slow disconnecting from this bullshit.

  31. Fiddlin Bill Says:

    For what it's worth, I recommend Go Daddy. I've had great service from them, plus they back a NASCAR Sprint Cup car driven by a very nice young lady.

  32. sluggo Says:

    Fax number? Coincidentally I sent a fax yesterday. The last time I sent a fax was in the summer to the same health insurance company in order for them to fix a problem again. So I send a couple three faxes a year to knuckleheads whose website won't function properly.

    I see some common pattern emerging.

  33. BubbaDave Says:

    The interesting thing to me was that if I did a WHOIS lookup on ginandtacos.com it gave me the information, including authoritative DNS servers. So then I did a dns lookup against that specific DNS server and got the IP address of your site. A quick edit to /etc/hosts and my browser was once again pointing to this glorious website. No updates, of course, but I could observe the existing posts and remind myself that life would get better soon.

  34. Jens Says:

    Welcome back. For a whole week I had to get my cynicism, vitriol, and spite from local sources.

  35. Alan C Says:

    Sounds like Network Solutions should be called Network Problems. Or Network Fuckups.

  36. Eric the Infrequent Says:

    Heh, Network Solutions Twitter name is @netsolcares which is I guess supposed to imply they care about something. Their feed is littered with garbage.

  37. James Hare Says:

    Don't bother switching domain registrars. They ALL suck. You'd think folks who had an amazing rent-seeking opportunity like domain registration would make customer service a top priority but — yeah.

  38. bruce Says:

    The Emily Yellin book;

    Your call is (not that) important to us : customer service and what it reveals about our world and our lives
    hit this nail on the head.
    bruce

    an excerpt for your enjoyment

    In July 2005, Govan's digital video recorder wouldn't work. She called Comcast's customer service line in Chicago but couldn't get through. During the course of four weeks, she called more than forty times. She was repeatedly disconnected, put on hold, or transferred to inept or inert representatives and technicians. One customer service representative transferred her to the Spanish-speaking line. Govan knows only English. She just wanted someone to resolve her seemingly simple case.

    She says she never raised her voice, but she was resolute. "Calling Comcast became my second job," Govan said. "I had to ensure the cordless phone was fully charged and the kids were content. And I sat and called. I cooked and called. I cleaned and called, and just called." Almost every day, Govan prodded the big company's customer service department as best she could. Finally, she found a rep who heard her out and took her case in hand. A technician was sent to replace her cable box at no charge, and she was credited with a free month of service. Govan's perseverance paid off. Her headaches seemed to be over.

    Then Govan's August cable bill arrived. Her name did not appear on the bill. Instead it was addressed to "Bitch Dog." Someone at Comcast had changed her account name. Govan said, "I was so mad I couldn't even cuss."

  39. mothra Says:

    Welcome back, Ed. Sorry you got sucked into the corporate maw while trying to work out your issues…it really does seem that customer service is now customer disservice.

    Glad the bastids gave you your site back; it will be most satisfying now for you to give them the middle finger and move to a hoster who isn't a pile of steaming shit.

  40. Kaleberg Says:

    Usually customer service is great. The folks are usually just peons like the rest of us, but made to wear clown masks by the nature of the organizations they work for. I'm sure if they won the lottery, they'd quit in a second and become human beings again. In general, the clown mask may make them look ridiculous, but with a bit of polite conversation, they manage to handle my problem.

    Now and then the clown mask wears heavily. Once my satellite internet went down. I spent hours on the phone with a series of patient technical people of varying levels of knowledge and capability. Each time we came within an inch of contacting the satellite. The main difference was that the latter higher level people were able to confirm that my modem was indeed talking to the satellite and that the satellite knew that my account was good, but somehow the connection could not be made.

    Finally, on the theory that dialing customer service numbers is a sort of lottery, so it's always worth making another call, I reached someone in billing resolution who knew what was going on. The entire satellite had been reprogrammed with a completely new communications system. Apparently, only her relatively obscure section of the bookkeeping department had been notified. Technical support, sales, general service, account management and even the folks in charge of fixing and upselling modems hadn't been informed. I thanked her profusely. She forwarded me to a modem upsell expert and had a new modem in a few days. It worked like a honey.

    (I had another adventure figuring out what to do with a dead deer, but that's another story. Once again though, it paid to call the same number more than once.)

  41. schmitt trigger Says:

    Unfortunately, this has become the "New Normal".

    I have had Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) for a long time. I have a dependent which requires significant health coverage, and a pre-tax FSA has been a way to stretch my health dollars.

    This past august, the FSA provider (Ameriflex, if you are interested) decided to change the rules. I ignore whether it was across the board, or was at my company's request (suspect the latter).

    Now, any expense from a health care provider must be fully validated by a statement which includes name, phone, physical address, specialty, license number, an itemized description of ALL services rendered, and I forget what other extra shit.
    If such claim is not validated within 3 weeks of the service date, they freeze your account.
    Now, if you have asked a physician for such a detailed statement they will either ignore the request, or make you pay for it.
    Long story short: a physician took longer and I missed the window. My debit card was promptly put on hold.
    I did send the validation, but nevertheless it took almost three months of endless calls to release the hold, even though -and this is the irritating part- my paycheck continued to be deducted.

    The hold continued until mid december, where it was already too late to spend my remaining balance. Those of you who use FSAs know the "use it or lose it" rule.

  42. Kit Malone Says:

    NS are notorious bastards. As are GoDaddy.

    EasyDNS is a non-Evil company based in Canada. I use them to provide DNS for multiple sites and they are rad and easy to work with.

  43. Robert Says:

    I had several occasions during my career when flak-catching was involved. One time a veteran asked with justifiable heat why essential service X had been cut; I told him that that decision had been made thousands of miles away by people who knew they would never have to look a disabled veteran in the eye and try to explain themselves. He was actually satisfied with that answer.

    By a remarkable coincidence, one of my coworkers toward the end of my career was a young woman from Bangladesh. She was actually quite good at processing orders, and no worse at face-to-face than the others.

  44. Dookie Says:

    @schmitt trigger

    You should suspect Obamacare. Numerous changes to FSAs were ordered by the ACA, ALL of which made them less attractive to use. Dirty upper middle class 15%ers were gobbling up most of those tax benefits…like with the 529 college savings plan. Only since the 529 hit Obama had planned wasn't hidden in some monster education reform bill, upper-middle class Dems raised hell about it until he dropped it.

  45. Captain Blicero Says:

    Glad to hear you're transfering DNS hosting. When it comes to that and even domain registration, it is *not* worth cheaping out. Would you get a discount vasectomy? Of course not. If you have a large online presence or do business online you'll regret it.

    Shameless plug for Dyn. They inherited me when they bought out my previous company. Absolutely no issues with them the past few years.

  46. Heqit Says:

    Yay! Ed is back!

    (Just sayin' to celebrate. He seems down a lot, so it can't hurt to +1 the number of people who are visibly glad he's visible again beyond Facebook.)

  47. Jesse Says:

    10/10 would go a week without gin and tacos to read this again

  48. Skipper Says:

    What I really missed was Dookie with his semi-literate rehash of Fox talking points. That's usually my laugh for the day.

  49. Skepticalist Says:

    Whew.

    Welcome back to our world.

  50. Bitter Scribe Says:

    A fax number? Seriously? They held you up because they wanted a goddamned FAX number?!?

    Can any of you out there remember the last time you even got a fax?

  51. E* Says:

    I'm so happy to have you back, sack of old shit in hand, along with all of your wonderful commenters (I'm talking to you, discount vasectomy and free market fistee). It's been a long week.

  52. Freecookies Says:

    As JK Galbraith said, companies are run primarily for the benefit of management above all. Then comes shareholders. Then maybe 5th on the list behind office furniture comes the customers. And far far down the list come the staff.

    At least you can take solace in the fact that despite how badly you were treated, the staff at that company get treated at least 10x worse.

  53. el mago Says:

    Won't try to parse it, except to say this site is some kind of addiction. Glad the dose is back.

  54. PhoenixRising Says:

    DNS providers that don't just suck llama butt…

    NameCheap
    EasyDNS
    DynDNS

    GoDaddy has done everything you described here. Then refused to let me transfer that domain out…because under ICANN rules they can put a 60 day hold on any domain that changes contact data. When I asked for a supe, because after 14 years of ripping me for dozens of domain registrations I foolishly thought that maybe just 'having the right to X the customer' might this once translate into 'but of course we're not going to exploit you'…both of us regretted that conversation deeply. I did not know I was capable of that intensity of sheer hate.

    Good luck.

  55. Star Says:

    Glad you're back!

  56. Dan Says:

    I swear I heard something on the radio recently about someone who finally got decent customer service from some cable outfit or isp when he emailed the ceo's mom.
    Anyway, good to have you back.

  57. tkno77 Says:

    Sorry to hear that you had to go through all that bullshit just to avoid some marketing crap. Hopefully the new services you look at will treat you better.

  58. Drew Says:

    See another problem solved by the efficiency of the Free Market.

  59. quixote Says:

    Hey, glad you're back!

    (As for domain name registrars: been with pairnic.com since 2002? earlier? Not the cheapest, but support is flawless and they never try to sell anything I haven't already bought, i.e. my domain name. Whois updating is via web page. One potential downside: I heard somewhere that they're where the White House has its domains registered.)

  60. mileslarboy Says:

    GLAD YOU'RE BACK!!! I've been worried sick! :-)

  61. Both Sides Do It Says:

    Oh Ed is back on that shit huh

    that Paincave Kid talk

    at the end of the painbow, the permanent stain bop

  62. Both Sides Do It Says:

    er, bot not bop

  63. Gil More Says:

    Been Googling "rifle, water tower, Illinois, gin, tacos"

    Glad you're back

  64. Edward Says:

    They are probably running an experiment to see how lousy they can treat their customers before they are forced out of business.

  65. Ahab Says:

    It's good to have you back. When I couldn't access your site, I worried that you'd been hacked or decided to throw in the towel. I'm relieved that I was wrong.

  66. Tina Says:

    Welcome back~ I really missed you!

  67. Scout Says:

    They used needing a FAX number as the excuse? Who the hell faxes anymore except people trying to give away Florida vacations? Which has necessitated setting up an email account for faxes to save trees, if you are a business who still has a fax number for whatever reason.

    I agree with whoever suggested nailing them on Twitter. They WILL get the message loud and clear.

  68. 'Niques Says:

    So glad you're back! I found you on the book of faces, so knew it was only a matter of time, but you are one of my daily go-to sites, so were greatly missed!

  69. cackalacka Says:

    Godaddy and Network Solutions- as someone who has recently started to blog/host, is there any other domain hosting service we should avoid?

  70. Ahab Says:

    Here's another tale of customer service woe: http://meloukhia.net/2015/03/how_to_lose_a_customer_in_ten_minutes/

  71. evodevo Says:

    Thank FSM you are back online – I thought maybe something awful had happened (not IT awful, though).
    Whew !!

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