Is It The Support People Or Is It Me?

I have had a crazy day. I got up to find that iContact had frozen my newly created email marketing account due to ‘complaints’ from AOL users. It turns out that iContact are so desperate to keep their relationship with AOL sweet, (naturally given the line of business they are in), that they are falling over themselves to do AOL’s bidding. Therefore in a surge of mind defying intellect, iContact deleted all the AOL users that had subscribed to my client’s newsletter.

That’s right. They locked down our account, and deleted, yes removed all the AOL people who had just received a double opt-in to which they had replied YES, from the subscribed list into the unconfirmed list, so that the poor AOL suckers would receive another double opt-in request.

Logic dictates that if so many of the AOL email account holders were unhappy with the first opt-in, what were they going to do when they got the second one? Think they’d hit the double opt-in lottery? I don’t think so.

Why had iContact done this? Because 7 people with AOL email accounts, who had previously signed up for a newsletter on my client’s web site, now having received the double opt-in, decided they didn’t want a newsletter. A bit weird, but – they are at liberty to change their minds. Given that the purpose of the double opt-in is to double check that people really want to subscribe, I couldn’t see how AOL and iContact could have a problem with this. This is how it is supposed to work.

So – I did what any normal web developer would do. I called iContact support. I should have taken a valium first. You know how it went.

  • Ring ring -ring ring
  • Annoying message – press some buttons
  • iContact: Hello, my name is Dick (not real name, but appropriate), how can I help you?
  • Me: You can help me by explaining why you have frozen my account
  • iContact: Let me look into that
  • (Automated mumbling while he goes away to investigate)
  • iContact: Thank you for holding. I can’t help you with that as it is dealt with by another department
  • Me: Please put me through to that other department
  • iContact: I can’t do that
  • Me: Why (the hell) not?
  • iContact: They don’t have a phone
  • Me: They don’t have a phone! You can’t be serious!
  • iContact: It’s true
  • Me: I don’t believe you for a minute, so I am forced to email your mates in that other department. Goodbye.

Now comes the 4 hours of frustration going to and fro, explaining the problem to the ‘other department’ people at iContact via email. The outcome no matter what I said, no matter how sweetly and sincerely I tried to indicate the illogic of it all, I was told that this was their policy, not once, but by three different support people. You can understand that I was left thinking they were all insane, incompetant or – even insane and incompetant!?

It’s a good job God invented blogging or where else would I have to let off steam.

Eventually some 6 hours after I alerted them to the Jabberwocky logic they seemed happy to apply they realised they had made a mistake, apologised and put back all the deleted subscribers, who they assured me had not yet received a second double opt-in message.

This is a great outcome – all is well again. iContact probably don’t realise I wasted the best part of a day on this completely stupid, avoidable support non-issue. I can’t wait until something really goes wrong.