Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.


July 5, 2005

Late last night, my super-savvy and wonder-working wife cracked the code. She actually got into my hotmail account. Amazing.

I was stuck in this endless loop of login screen and ‘user verification’ hipservice (a ticketmasteresque, ‘type the characters which appear in the box’ effort at thwarting spambots). I was using the correct password, and painstakingly typing the correct code, but time after time after time I was being blocked.

Last time this happened, we worked on it for a long time before I called Microsoft. In short order, a friendly technician logged in for me, and I was all set. So this time, I figured I’d save some time and call right away. Not so fast.

The human technicians were only slightly better than the recorded prompts, as they read their scripts with no inflection or interaction.

Chipper Tech: “Thanks for calling. I look forward to helping you solve your problem. How may I help you today?”
Me: “Great, thanks. I can’t get in to my email account.”
CT: “Well, you may visit our website and send us an email.”
Me: (warily) “But I can’t get in to my email account.”
CT: “You may visit our website and send us an email.”
Me: (suppressing exasperation, counting to three, pasting fake smile on face) “Last time this happened, someone at your organization logged in for me, and it fixed the problem. Could you help me that way, please?”
CT: “We do not help people over the phone.”
Me: (wondering why they answered the phone) “But you did help me before…”
CT: “What was the number that you called before?”
Me: (wondering why that would matter) “Why it was this number.”
CT: “What was the person’s ID number? They should not have helped you.”
Me: “I see. They must be stopped.”

I was tossed back and forth between Microsoft and MSN services. One guy got in my grill, insisting that he needed to know which version of Windows I was using. Then, he moved on to try to blame the maker of my computer before he rushed me off the phone. Another lady tried to transfer me to someone else, and actually sent me to Wells Fargo Bank, who immediately wanted my Social Security number. Everyone I spoke with wanted my telephone number and full name, and wanted to remind me every couple of minutes that I was not paying for my hotmail account; I was getting it for free.

Well, excuse me. But it’s not like I stole it. I started my free account at your invitiation. You begged me to choose you over all of the other free email services, promising better features and impeccable support. Now, four years later, I’m supposed to feel like a thief just for asking for access to my account? My account, which I use every single day, along with all of the advertising that gets thrown at me on every screen? How is that free? Free to me, and free to you, but someone is certainly paying for it!

After an hour and several phone calls, I submitted to the Machine and sent them an email. Or rather I should say, I tried to send them an email, as my first effort was sent to oblivion and I was sent to an error screen. So I carefully typed in my request again, making sure to put in my alternate email address so that I could actually receive their response and try to fix the danged thing. Several days of naive waiting and checking ensued, until uber-wife figured it all out.

So imagine my surprise when I looked in my hotmail inbox and found not one, but two emails from MSN. Detailing the fix that my wife found on her own, and demonstrating a firm grasp of the problem:

“I understand how much you want to have this issue resolved because you need to access your account and view your messages.”

Thank you. So why, dear one, did you send the email to my hotmail account?

gmail, here I come!

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3 Responses to “Purge”

  1. [REDACTED] says:

    Whoa man. What happened??? A total site redesign is not what I needed the day after a holiday. When I don’t get enough sleep, I need familiarity, not novelty! I guess I can get used to it. Good story, by the way. I’ve had issues like that before, though never with email. More in the “for problems accessing the internet, please see the help section on our webpage” vein.

  2. Kate says:

    Welcome to the family, darlin’. Welcome to the family. The ‘ex-Hotmail, now Gmail’ family.
    I think my final straw came when I couldn’t log in for 30 consecutive days — I mean, I could, but didn’t have access, since I was getting roughly 45 minutes of sleep a day due to a screechy new arrival, and I access it at work anyway — so they made me pay $20 or so a year to get the account back. After the second year of paying, I bailed.
    Gmail! YAY!!!

  3. Erin says:

    Friend: I will never use gmail because I resent the intrusiveness of the advertising.

    Me: What do you use now?

    Friend: hotmail.

    Me: Oh, you mean with all the popover ads and flashing borders and shoot the duck stuff?

    Friend: Uh, yeah.

    Me: I guess I’m the kind of weirdo who doesn’t find 10-pt type in pastel colors off to the side “intrusive.”

    Friend: It’s Big Brother, man.

    I’ll send ya an invite, Mike.


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