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Monster Cloud and an angry customer wanting a refund: A Love Story

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Coat

Clouds - Just waiting to piss all over you

Beware putting your whole business at risk. I wonder if some may actually go to the wall because of practices like this.

Thankfully my coat has a waterproof hat in the pocket. 'Be prepared' and all that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clouds - Just waiting to piss all over you

Agreed!

Outsourcing, clouds, whatever. You can outsource profits and functionality but you can't outsource risk.

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K
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Re: Clouds - Just waiting to piss all over you

I've recently interviewed at 3 different companies in London, bizarrely all of them outsourced their infrastructure to a single provider (different providers for each of them), all because they didn't want the hassle of doing it internally - all of these companies have realised it was a short-term gain and long-term pain, now they are scrambling to either distribute the risk or bring it back in-house (hence reason for the interviews)..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clouds - Just waiting to piss all over you

@K

I have to say, I'm working at one of the outsourced, cloud-based infrastructure places, and I'm not surprised that people have problems. We try very hard to make it as painless and useful as possible for people, but sometimes I have to put the brakes on someone chasing a totally inappropriate client who'll only suffer and badmouth us.

It can work. It does work. It doesn't work for everyone. Pick your fights (like usual).

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Happy

Impressed at his politeness!

If someone had sent me a price increase of that magnitude, my first email would have been pretty bad. Impressed he was so polite.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Impressed at his politeness!

He/she was only polite at first. They become complete arseholes at the end:

...as you have in past indicated you would contact the media then I think they will contact our legal counsel before anything else. So this might take a while.

Fuck them.

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Threats?

At what point did the customer threaten the company?

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Re: Threats?

The e-mail came from support, not from customer services. It's not impossible the question "Was that milk and two sugars?" would also be seen as a threat.

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Re: Threats?

Spot on. When feeling defensive, play the frightened victim card.

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Gimp

Re: Threats?

That's what you get when mailing the nerd cave.

Apparently these people have nothing better to do than write extensive mails while finding their inner lawyer and patting themselves on the back?

Support: We just amuse ourselves with e-mails.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Threats?

Managing Directors of train companies respond just as badly to parody, trust me.

'snot just the Nerd Cave

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"We are the engineers"

Well let's see now :

- godlike opinion of one's own status - check

- inherent contempt for bog-level "lusers" - check

- expressing said contempt while still thinking oneself immaculate - check

- demonstrating abysmal social skills by spending 80% of the email exchange on everything but the problem at hand - check

Yup, you obviously are engineers. If you were in Marketing the company would have closed shop a month after starting.

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Re: "We are the engineers"

Agreed and very well put.

And what a clever value-adding engineer he must be, "engineering" an already engineered product. They may be the most important "startup" out there in their own little world view, but they equate to exactly nothing if they have no customers due to catastrophic PR and business practice.

If that was one of my engineers he'd be looking for a new job by now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We are the engineers"

This is great demonstration of why you have first line support. You put all the people without enough experience to have grown contempt of the users onto first line. As they gain experience, and lose their enthusiasm for tact and politeness, you move them further away from the users.

But yeah, a great advert for Monster. I'm already sorted for cloud storage, but if I was looking I would know who to avoid.

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LDS
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Re: "We are the engineers"

Marketing would have tried to convince you you didn't need a refund and that the prices hike was actually a truly good thing for you, while offering you at least three more expensive deals you shouldn't really miss because they are exceptional offers they give you at loss just because it's you.

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Re: "We are the engineers"

Dunno read some of the twitter conversations that were linked to in the previous reg story, there's plenty of snark from them on their twitter account as well. Obviously company culture.

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Re: "We are the engineers"

This person is probably first-level support, and Monster is a reseller so probably a "Customer Service Engineer". Having said that, his response from the get-go was combative and totally uncalled-for.

I've done L1 support in the past and yes, I got it in the neck from angry customers. It's like a telephone/e-mail version of the Kobayashi Maru test from Star Trek, but you're still expected to launch a rescue, take the resulting arse-kicking from the Klingons AND keep your cool.

Losing it like that has just cost them a potential customer - a friend just asked me (in a personal capacity) if they were any good, so I've just sent them this article. "Right, they're off the short-list then !"

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Re: "We are the engineers"

"demonstrating abysmal social skills by spending 80% of the email exchange on everything but the problem at hand - check"

This one is spot on. Have an upvote. If you think the customer is being abusive (and in this case they weren't really, just being pissed off) then the surest way of getting them off your back is to sort out what they're annoyed about, first.

All he had to do was pass on the request to the relevant dept and point the customer in that direction. He could have even given a snarky response in doing this, if he really had to. But this guy decided he wanted an argument instead.

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Alert

Re: "We are the engineers"

Jeez! If that's the engineers then I'd hate to meet their BOFH

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Meh

Re: "We are the engineers"

But this guy decided he wanted an argument instead.

That's not an argument, that's abuse. Presumably arguments are done by different people in a different building....

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Re: "We are the engineers"

That's not an argument, that's abuse. Presumably arguments are done by different people in a different building....

That wasn't five minutes just now?

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Re: "We are the engineers"

you say "godlike opinion of one's own status" as if it's a bad thing... </sarcasm>

But seriously, I'm almost tempted to open an account for one day just so I can abuse them of such a bone head move...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We are the engineers"

I doubt very much they are the engineers. Why would the engineers be dealing directly with the customers?

They are 1st or 2nd line support, dealing with customers and funnelling requests onwards.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why would the engineers be dealing directly with the customers?

Because it's a one person company and the talk of other departments is just for show?

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Re: "We are the engineers"

I doubt if anyone with a real engineering degree would be working in customer support for a reseller of another firms storage.

In Canada its illegal to call yourself an engineer unless you have a degree or similar from an accredited institution. Giving a minimum wage zombie the title "Support Engineer" is an insult to all those who slogged though some of the most difficult and challenging courses available and go on to design build and maintain the fabric of the modern world.

(For the record I am not an engineer although HR once stuck me with the job title "Software Engineer" ).

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Re: "We are the engineers"

Hear! Hear! I am continually disgusted by adverts for service providers that promise that "One of our Engineers will be with you the same day". No they won't! The true Engineers, those that have spent four to six years studying at university to get at least a BSc are not going to come running out to fix your broken boiler or start your broken down car for you. They are sitting at a desk or computer designing the next generation of equipment in order to make the world a better place. The grimy handed ones who come running are at best Technicians, or maybe only Fitters (not that I have anything against Technicians or Fitters, they do an essential job), but the general concensus of opinion in this country is that, if you get your hands dirty, you must be an Engineer. Would you call the local Butcher a Surgeon, just because he gets blood on his hands whilst cutting flesh? No, I don't think so. As James said, it is illegal in Canada, and also in Germany (where I have worked) to call yourself an Engineer unless you have a degree, but over here there is no such control, much to the annoyance of real Engineers like myself.

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Re: "We are the engineers"

Well I've told you once.

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FAIL

Wow!

Looks like Monster Cloud is one company I'll never ever deal with for cloudy requirements.

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Facepalm

Re: Wow!

Avoiding any firm with the word Monster in them, would be a good idea. Take Monster Cables for instance, £99 for a 4 gang extension lead or £250 for a HDMI lead - and that was years ago when I was last foolish enough to enter a branch of Dixons/Currys/PC World.

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Coat

Re: Wow!

I'd also try avoiding anything with Cloud in the name.

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Facepalm

Re: Wow!

I avoid anything with the words Dixons/Currys/PC World in it too. Works for me.

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"we give 1st line support for accounts"

"...though not to a particularly high standard."

Oh no, I've done some weirdness in all my confusion!

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WTF?

Monster Clowns

That is all.

What a bunch of tossers.

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LDS
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They are a "cloud" company, and don't understand bad behaviours go to the "cloud" too?

It looks they didn't like the customer said he/she was going to write to the media. It's funny how many companies trying to jump on the "cloud" bandwagon are so afraid of how easy today is to make known bad customer care - and abusing a customer and threatening legal actions is not the best way to hide it. You can' either expect customer be happy about price hikes and write you sweet mails. Just refund them when they are eligible and stop there.

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Out of the idlest curiosity - wtf were Monster Backup bringing to the party ?

One of the evils of the modern world is "reseller", which seems to be a synonym for "rip off merchant". Unless they actually add value.

A few years ago, working for a small company, I had to endure an hours sales pitch from a mobile phone reseller. One of the "services" they added was to sort out any billing issues.

Come month one, and the inevitable billing issue (this was Orange, of course) and we were told in no uncertain terms the reseller would not be able to intervene in billing issues. Repeated subsequent enquiries as to what the reseller actually DID suggested that they

1) got the handsets from Orange

2) helped us put the SIM in, (if we needed it)

3) told us where we could get online help if we needed further support

4) er - that's it.

The only way resellers can exist (IMHO) is because the directors of resellers have come from firms that then place business with resellers.

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Re: Out of the idlest curiosity - wtf were Monster Backup bringing to the party ?

Yeah I don't understand it either, you just end up having arguments, erm discussions with a bunch of people who can't actually do anything because they are not the company you have a problem with. Go straight to the main company and wave the contract of money you pay at them far more effective.

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Re: Out of the idlest curiosity - wtf were Monster Backup bringing to the party ?

Generally I'd agree although in the past I have had some good deals from mobile phone resellers that weren't available from the official website. I think they use them as a kind of outlet store albeit with up to date phones so as not to blacken the name of the official site with cheap and cheerful deals.

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Re: Out of the idlest curiosity - wtf were Monster Backup bringing to the party ?

The one legitimate use for resellers is when the merchant himself doesn't want to deal directly with the customers. Think warehousing versus corner shops.

So for example I have an insurance policy which is through AXA, but AXA don't sell it directly to the public. It's only available through a broker.

This makes sense - small brokers specialising in niche products can get to know the field well and approach AXA with a proposal for a new policy, for which they think they'll be able to get, say, 1000 customers. AXA know and trust the broker, so they set it up and do none of the learning or customer interaction. Customers get their niche policy, with a broker (reseller) who understands them. Everybody wins.

Reselling a main stream product which is available to the public from the original vendor, though? Pointless.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out of the idlest curiosity - wtf were Monster Backup bringing to the party ?

Monster have made the same mistake some of our Banks made. The advice was "borrow long, lend short". Doing it the other way round, borrow for short periods and re-lend that money on long contracts, ends in tears when the supply of cheap short term lenders dries up but you still have a commitment to service the long term loans. (The temptation is obvious, when large short term loans are available cheap and you know you can write smaller long term loans at higher rates it looks like there's money to be made but...).

Monster's mistake (apart from employing some entertaining attitudes to customer care) was to undertake to sell at a price without locking in the wholesale price they were paying.

Even so, faced with an 8000% price increase surely they had the option of finding a better wholesale deal elsewhere.

As regards this customer - it may have been worth a careful look at the contract, did it indeed allow for this kind of change? If not then an attempt to require specific performance of the contract terms.

BTW if you want 1TB of cloud storage try the 5 user Microsoft Office subscription for GBP65. That gives always up to date Office, 1TB and 60 free Skype minutes/month for *each* of up to 5 users.

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Re: Out of the idlest curiosity - wtf were Monster Backup bringing to the party ?

> One of the "services" they added was to sort out any billing issues.

If this was in writing, or otherwise recorded, and:

> Come month one, and the inevitable billing issue (this was Orange, of course) and we were told in no uncertain terms the reseller would not be able to intervene in billing issues

Then calling in trading standards would be entertaining, to say the least.

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Nice set of emails

It's going to be good evidence for the small claims court. Or for a higher court if he goes for damages due to the disruption to his business.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice set of emails

Yes, that's what I thought. I must admit I wouldn't have had that long an exchange - they'd be facing Trading Standards already (which IMHO they really, really should).

There is a golden rule with these sorts of communications: the longer they go on, the more you can build a case for the consumer as eventually conflicts start to appear - the sort of conflicts that will hang the business if it goes to Court.

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Unhappy

But a shame the full transcript wasnt published

Since the customers mail doesn't include a threat to call The Register, but if we assume that the customer service's engineer wasn't outright lying then some of those mails have been edited or are missing.

Which means we cant trust the whole exchange.

Which is a bit naughty El Reg. You are not The Sun.

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Re: But a shame the full transcript wasnt published

Where the Monster Clown representative mentions that threat, I got the impression he was referring to a different email exchange - presumably the one referred to as being with Marketing.

The reason being that other references to exchange as published all describes it as "today" or "this morning" etc. Where the threat of contacting the media was mentioned it was "you have in past indicated you would..." - suggesting a previous round of contact, and that's in the same message where the Monster Clown rep mentions the previous contact was with Marketing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But a shame the full transcript wasnt published

I am still hiding my ID but the exchange was between me and the gentleman at MonsterCloud.

I can 100% catagorically assure you that you have read 100% of the email exchanges between us: there is nothing redacted/missing.added at all. His reference to previous exchanges I can only assume to be about the Tweets written on the day of the announcement.

The Register have been sent all the emails and you can all see the Tweets should you want.

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Re: But a shame the full transcript wasnt published

Whoever wrote their T&Cs does not seem to have heard of the "Unfair terms in consumer contracts" regulations; from a quick look almost everything appears to be one-sided, in their favour. Have a browse here, specifically section 5:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/2083/contents/made

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Nice example

That's a good example for everyone - how to escalate a minor issue to a severe problem. Pissed off customers are a perpetual problem but blaming them for events that you have directly or indirectly created never solves anything.

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Rol

Re: Nice example

The urge to at least try and get even with a truly obnoxious customer, should be done with guile and subtly, nuanced beyond their perception.

After all, how do you see a win, when the customer gets freebies as an apology for your unfettered remarks, and you are a step closer to unemployment benefit.

Think once! Think twice. Think bike, would be all you can afford when you're jobless.

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FAIL

Did anyone else think Ratners and M&S prawn sandwich.

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My goodness how is it so difficult to get good customer service. Their first response should have been a grovelling apology and automatically arranging the refund.

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