Friday, April 15, 2011

1and1.com - Internet hosting and customer service at its worst

I don't typically use this forum for this type of thing but 1and1 Internet (http://www.1and1.com/) is so clearly engaged in predatory consumer practices that I feel a buyer beware story is warranted.

After being a customer of 1and1.com for more than a year, on February 2, 2011 I called and cancelled one of our servers ($109.99/month). On February 8, 2011 I received an email stating that the credit card on file had expired and needed to be updated. On February 10, 2011 I called and spoke to Daniel who instructed me how to update the expiration date which I did at that time. I then cancelled our second server with Daniel ($209.99/monthly) to close our account with 1and1.

Daniel informed me that each server would be prorated on a monthly basis through the respective cancelation date and that a credit would be issued to my credit card for the balance. Despite my request for the credit amount, he could not provide it because he was unsure of the exact amount which would be calculated by “the system”.

I received an email confirmation that the server had been cancelled on February 10. My credit card shows a charge of $209.99 on January 29 (back dated when the expiration was updated? – I am unsure). On February 22 my credit card was credited $101.61 by 1and1. We had 2 servers on 1 account so I believed that this was the prorated credit and our account was closed.

I received no further communication from 1and1 (email, phone call or regular mail).

On April 11 I received a collection call for a supposed unpaid balance with 1and1 for $128.94. ($109.99 + $18.95 collection fee) I informed him that it was a mistake and immediately called 1and1 billing which was closed so I called back the next day. On April 12, 2011 I spoke to Michelle who informed me that the $109.99 charge plus an additional $18.95 collection charge was correct and that 1and1 had attempted to contact me with no success forcing them to send my account to collections and assess the $18.95 fee that I needed to pay directly to the collection agency in full amount. She was not able to tell me how they had attempted to contact me or explain how the collection agency was able to simply call me directly via the number provided by 1and1. I asked to speak with a supervisor but none were available. I was transferred to a supervisor’s voicemail and left a message but did not receive a callback despite Michelle’s assurances.



I emailed complaints@1and1.com with details on Tuesday and received this response today: Friday, April 15, 2011 10:50 AM
Dear Anne Fitzpatrick, Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry for this inconvenience. However, we had tried to contact you numerous times regarding this billing issues. We had sent a number of emails to the email address on the account. We tried to freeze your account to get your attention. The issue persisted for long enough to the point that we had sent the account to , the collection agency. Before the account entered collections we had a far broader authority to assist you; however, once an account is in collections we are not allowed by our systems to access your invoices in any administrative way. We similarly cannot remove an account from collections unless it is proven that it is wholly the fault of 1and1 that the package was continued. Please resolve the issue with the collection agency and they will remove you from any list that they have. Thank you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us. -- Sincerely, Dana Cook Customer Service 1&1 Internet
I promptly responded Fri 4/15/2011 11:07 AM:
Dana Cook, I would like documentation of how you attempted to contact me. I received a payment reminder from email from 1and1 on February 8th and a cancelation confirmation on 10th at my still current email address (that this email is being sent from) but no additional emails. I also received today's email. I check my junk mail folder multiple times per day and received nothing from you.

I never received any telephone message from you but the collection agency reached me immediately further demonstrating to me that you never attempted to contact me.

Though you have my mailing address on file, you refuse to send regular mail notices because you are a "green" company. In addition, my credit card could have simply been billed as you have the updated information on file.

I can only think that this is an attempt to gouge what you believe is a helpless consumer that you refuse to deal with directly by not only billing erroneous charges but also an $18.95 collection fee.

I never received a call back after leaving a message for a supervisor on Tuesday and being told by your representative Michelle that I would likely hear back in 24 hours.

I do not believe that 1and1 is working in good faith to help resolve this issue.

Please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Anne
I received this reply Fri 4/15/2011 11:17 AM
Dear Anne Fitzpatrick, Thank you for contacting us. I know my previous response might not have been the response that you were looking for. However, this is the response we need to give. This is a situation where the account was left delinquent for some time and that caused our automated system to pass this account to collections. Should you pay within 30 days, they will take you off of any list that they have. Despite these actions not grasping your attention, these were honest efforts to contact you. As an internet company, e-mail is our preferred use of contact. Furthermore, when the account is left delinquent, we suspend the service. We have given ample time and notice for this account. There is nothing we can do at this point. I am sorry. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us. -- Sincerely, Dana Cook Customer Service 1&1 Internet
I promptly responded again Fri 4/15/2011 11:28 AM
I will be contacting the Massachusetts Attorney General and Better Business Bureau in your area. Clearly you made no attempt to contact me as the collection agency was able to reach me immediately and I have also received and responded promptly to all of your emails.

I am extremely disappointed in 1and1 and your consumer abuse. We were a paying customer for 15 months and yet when we attempted to cancel our account you immediately took advantage of the fact that we had ever done business with you and now you refuse to address the problem but again refusing to call and speak with me directly.

The situation is extremely clear; you never billed me for the second server AND you issued me a $101.61 credit on February 22 which more than covered the 12 days we had one server and 4 days that we had the second in the billing cycle that began January 30.

I am disputing your charges and claims of failing to respond to your attempts to collect the debt which I believe were non-existent because you could have simply billed my credit card on file. Anne Fitzpatrick
I received this reply Fri 4/15/2011 11:37 AM
Dear Anne Fitzpatrick, Thank you for contacting us. Again, we apologize for any confusion caused here. Unfortunately, non-payment is not a form of cancellation. This service will perpetually renew unless proactively canceled. More than an industry standard, this is a very important convenience for our existing and prospective customers. Customers cannot be forced to contact us every time they need a service renewal. This would cause unwanted website downtime, loss of resources, and an assortment of other issues for a large majority of our customers. From a customer service standpoint, we want to do all that we can. We do understand that perhaps this service was somehow forgot about, incorrectly canceled, or there was some kind of misunderstanding along the way. We do sympathize with your plight in the current situation. This is why we pointed out that, should you pay the collection agency within the 30-day mark, they will remove you from any credit-affecting list. We send out letters to remind customers of their outstanding balance through the mail, send out numerous emails, and we make phone calls as well. Should you resolve this matter with the collection agency, as a one-time courtesy, we will refund the $18.95 late fee that was added to your account prior to sending the balance to collections. Please resolve this matter with . Thank you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us. -- Sincerely, Dana Cook Customer Service 1&1 Internet
My reply Fri 4/15/2011 1:26 PM:
Dana, My email and your records clearly state that I called in and cancelled one server on February 2 and the second server on February 10. Your representatives Daniel and Michelle confirmed these cancellation dates repeatedly for me.

1and1 did not bill me for the $109.99 server then sent it to collections; how is that MY FAULT? You have my active credit card on file, there is no way for me to take further action to pay you, all you had to do was bill my card. It is as simple as that.

I am seeking an $9.86 credit from 1and1 for being overcharged in the prorated billing for 2 servers.

I have filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and will be following up with the Better Business Bureau if this is not resolved quickly.

Anne
Did I mention that I received ALL of these communications the email that they have on file and that the collection agency reached me at the number 1and1 gave them?

I wish that I didn't have to waste this time over $128 but this has the potential to also damage my credit and it's wrong. It's incredibly disheartening to see such consumer abuse by an ENORMOUS web hosting company and what consumers must sometimes go through to protect their credit.

I'll post updates as they come in.

Also, I'm not alone

http://forums.cnet.com/7723-6616_102-139251.html

http://www.complaintsboard.com/byurl/1and1.com.html
http://www.webhostingjury.com/reviews/1and1

Anne




Update from 1and1 received Fri 4/15/2011 1:47 PM

Dear Anne Fitzpatrick,
Thank you for contacting us.

We can confirm that the servers were successfully canceled in February, however the outstanding balance reflects non-payment of an invoice that had generated prior to cancellation: Invoice #XXXX - dated Jan. 29, 2011. As you are the administrator and owner of the account, it would be your responsibility to cancel any aspect of it prior to the renewal dates. Charges that generate prior to cancellation would be the responsibility of the account holder.

To further resolve this matter please call XXX-XXX-XXXX and the administrator will transfer the call to the assigned collector. Please mention the following #: XXXXXX as it will reference your account at . The collector will then be able to take the payment right over the phone, or make payment arrangements.

Before the account entered collections we had a far broader authority to assist you; however, once an account is in collections we are not allowed by our systems to access your invoices in any administrative way. We similarly cannot remove an account from collections unless it is proven that it is wholly the fault of 1and1 that the package was continued.
Please resolve the issue with the collection agency and they will remove you from any list that they have.

Thank you.

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

--
Sincerely,
Dana Cook
Customer Service
1&1 Internet


So they agree that I cancelled both servers in February. They successfully billed my credit card for one server but didn't bother to bill me for the second. They issued the same credit card a credit on Feb. 22 for more than $100 yet 6 weeks later I'm in collections for nonpayment? The collection agency was easily able to contact me and I have received numerous emails from them today demonstrating that they could have easily contacted me yet they stand by their arguement that it was my fault that they didn't bill the credit card on file.

It gets more and more ridiculous with every email.

1and1 Internet is a horrible consumer predator.


1and1's shocking Better Business Bureau listing in Philadelphia.

BBB processed a total of 807 complaints about 1and1 in the last 36 months - 382 in the last 12 months.

1and1.com BBB listing Philadelphia 807 complaints


I am now speaking with the Pennsylvania Attorny General's Office.

6 comments:

Patrick G said...

Hi there, they are doing the same to me for URL's I did not renew. Whats your advice? Thanks

Patrick G said...

Hi There, Id love to hear your advice. They are doing the same thing to me with domains I did not renew. Thanks

gaurav11 said...

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SEOsudo said...

I have recently had the misfortune to deal with 1and1hosting.com. Trying to do a simple 301 in the htaccess and I was on the phone for an hour. Still not resolved. Had to do the redirect in the page header!

On one of my clients accounts, its a 'template' and they can only 302 the template. They also don't allow FTP into the directory. I have to change it over to another hosting account which I am not emailing back and forth trying to get them to do this.

AJ said...

Same sort of experience with these jerks. They made it impossible for me to cancel my account, so gave them written notice of cancellation, and I removed my credit card from billing. Now they are claiming I owe them money based on autorenew after I already attempted to cancel (online: does not work, and in writing). Now they are threatening me with collections (over $20, hah).

Read up on the Fair Debt Collection Practices and Fair Credit Reporting Acts.. If you have clear documentation that the debt is false you can tell the collection agency to cease contacting you. They can ding your credit or take you to court. For me, one time they dinged my credit and we took them to court. We won legal fees + 1000 IIRC. But it was a huge hassle.

AJ said...

Same sort of experience with these jerks. They made it impossible for me to cancel my account, so gave them written notice of cancellation, and I removed my credit card from billing. Now they are claiming I owe them money based on autorenew after I already attempted to cancel (online: does not work, and in writing). Now they are threatening me with collections (over $20, hah).

Read up on the Fair Debt Collection Practices and Fair Credit Reporting Acts.. If you have clear documentation that the debt is false you can tell the collection agency to cease contacting you. They can ding your credit or take you to court. For me, one time they dinged my credit and we took them to court. We won legal fees + 1000 IIRC. But it was a huge hassle.