Earthlink, Poor PR, and Your Small Business

Normally I’m pretty mellow about bad customer service and public relations. Everyone has bad days, and I did time in a call center myself lo these many years ago, so I have some sympathy for people in that position.

But . . . there’s a limit.

Colleague and friend Katharine O’Moore-Klopf alerted her social network yesterday that her domain,, had been erroneously deactivated by her ISP and web host, Earthlink.

Meaning that her email and web site are unavailable. Not only does that directly impact her editing business, but it makes her incredible Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base unavailable to anyone else. She’s had to contact all of her clients individually to explain the problem. Her site is her online resume — so that’s unavailable to prospective clients also.

The Good: Customer service was relatively prompt in responding, via an alternate email address and Twitter. They also credited her account.

The Bad: Customer service told her it would take 24-72 hours to restore it. Why? No one knows. Funny how it was quick and easy to take down her domain but evidently quite time consuming and difficult to put it back up.

The Very, Very Ugly: Katharine, several colleagues, and I all posted inquiries, comments, and criticisms to the Earthlink Facebook page. Such postings started to be deleted by the page admin, although he/she stated at one point that their policy was to only delete postings that were considered obscene, derogatory, etc. None of us posted anything of the sort — we simply called them on their poor service.

The page admin also stated that they keep customer complaint posts on the page so that they can be held accountable and show their good service in resolving the issues. All posts regarding Katharine’s problem have been deleted. AND… all of my colleagues and I have been blocked from posting on that page. Even Katharine, a current customer.

I understand the concept of damage control, and I acknowledge a Facebook page owner’s right to control content. However, I also understand the power of public relations and of social media. Their choices today could be a textbook lesson in how NOT to manage customer complaints. By now, hundreds of people know about their idiocy instead of just Katharine, because of their decision to restrict valid criticism on an online forum.



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6 responses to “Earthlink, Poor PR, and Your Small Business

  1. Thanks for this post, Kristine. It was a matter of a large corporation not taking the owner of a small business seriously.

  2. George Mercanto

    What should they have done? I wouldn’t want my friends or anyone SAYING theyre my online friends knowing about MY service. And I wouldnt want to keep up comments about issues people weren’t actually a part of if I was a company either.

    Was her issue alleviated?

    • Yes, her issue was resolved.

      The main problem with Earthlink deleting all those posts and comments was that they said outright in one post (later deleted) that they keep complaints on their Facebook page so that they can resolve them publicly. Not only did they delete Katharine’s friends’ posts and comments, they deleted HERS… an Earthlink customer.

      In my opinion, it looks very bad for a company to delete anything except truly objectionable material such as obscenity.

  3. George Mercanto

    Glad it was taken care of. I guess that’s good at least. Not an Earthlink customer so I can’t comment directly on their service. And it is absolutely to bad that they deleted comments, but I get it if the comments were about someone else’s service or offering, or maybe if they were false in info. Whatever the case, at least she was helped out. Whatever you or she did seems to have worked, however messy it was.

  4. Gloria

    Not to be a niggler, but it sounds to me as if at least some of the comments were, indeed, derogatory: “tending to lessen the merit or reputation of a person or thing.” Not knowing how O’Moore-Klopf’s domain happened to be “erroneously deactivated” leaves my wondering.

    Something (perhaps) similar happened to me, but the error was mine — I hadn’t left an e-mail address I regularly checked and missed notices telling me my domain name renewal payment was due. I fixed that by renewing for ten years — I’m not likely to live that long.

  5. Great post Kristine yet again, never fail to disappoint me! 🙂

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