FlashNet's Lack of Professional Support, or "How One Support Person Can Run Off Customers"

The complete interchange between Jake and Preston Ordrop, minus the full text of the original spam I received.

Be sure to check the end, where another person's adventures with Preston Ordrop's feeble support attempts are discussed. Added 12/19/00.

My comments on this exchange are in red text.

Jake: 

Do the email servers have spam-filtering capability yet?
I do believe I may have found a domain it would be beneficial
to block. Typically I write to abuse@whatever-domain-it-was
sent-from, however this one does not have such an address,

   ----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mail.oak-tree.net.:
>>> RCPT To: abuse@oak-tree.net
<<< 550 abuse@oak-tree.net not accepted
550 abuse@oak-tree.net... User unknown"

and appears to not be properly registered when I check with
ARIN, which returns "Oak Tree Marketing (NETBLK-OAK-
TREE-GN) OAK-TREE-GN 209.140.111.0 - 209.140.111.255" only.
No contact name or address.
    The many spam-mails from this ISP, the lack of "abuse" address,
lack of contact names, and the name "Oak Tree MARKETING" rather
leads me to believe that this ISP, Oak Tree, exists primarily as a haven
for spammers. Any chance the domain can be blocked?

Thank you for your time,

Jake

Preston Replied:

Hi
FlashNet strives to reduce the amount of spam received by our subscribers.
We have installed a new mail gateway that functions as a "front door
filter" for all email.  However, despite our best efforts, spam will get
through from time to time.  We post current spam received by our
subscribers at http://support.flash.net/~nospam
and ask that our subscribers first check this page for action on any
particular piece of spam.  If the spam in question is not posted at that
page within three full working days of receipt, then please send headers of
any spam to no-spam@flash.net for investigation.
You must include all headers from the source of the email, not just from,
to, date, etc.
If you need instructions on how to obtain full headers from your email
software, please see http://www.flash.net/~support/esupport/headers.html
We actively block spamming domains and the amount of spam you are not
receiving is enormous.

Thanks,
Preston Ordrop
Email Support Manager support@flash.net
FlashNet Communications http://www.flash.net

Jake Replied:

Ok, and your answer to my specific query about Oak-Tree?

Jake

Preston Replied:

Hi
I do not have any information on that domain; it is not hosted by us sorry

Thanks,
Preston Ordrop
Email Support Manager support@flash.net
FlashNet Communications http://www.flash.net

Jake Replied: (Because Preston apparently wasn't capable of understanding my question)

I'm sorry, I think my original question might not be too clear.
I believe that Oak-Tree Marketing should be blocked at the
email server level. Proof is included below. Any chance
that this might happen?

Thanks for your time,

Jake

Preston replied:

Hi
again, please see my previous response concerning how to report spam and
how we handle spam reports.


Thanks,
Preston Ordrop
Email Support Manager support@flash.net
FlashNet Communications http://www.flash.net

And just how does his previous response answer my specific
question? I love the "again," part, showing his exasperation.
Gosh, I sure hate to make the guy do his job....

Our next exchange, only 2 months later:

Jake:

Hi folks. I've gotten this guy's spam 31 times. Any chance someone
might find him and do something about this? Or perhaps block, at
the server, ANYTHING without a Return-Path? Without a TO: line?
Without a FROM: line? I think those are pretty reliable indicators of
spam, don't you? The phone number's for Arizona, where Flashnet
has a POP. Any chance someone there might try to track this guy down?
One of the 31 messages I've gotten from this guy contained this part:

>*******************************************
>
>This message brought to you by ProBulk,
>the sole owner and distributor of this
>mailing list.
>
>To contact ProBulk:
>
>602-735-3970 to request email address removal
>954-567-8478 for comments and complaints
>773-506-4509 for sales and service
>781-440-6553 for everything else
>
>**********************************************************************

Would this be of any help?

Sorry if I sound a little miffed, but I'm just getting to the end of my rope
with this, and my last contact with Flashnet Support was with Email
Support Manager Preston Ordrop, whom I felt was rude and instead
of answering my question just repeatedly pointed me to the
http://support.flash.net/~nospam page, which did not answer my question.

I would greatly appreciate it if someone other than Mr. Ordrop could handle
this matter.

Sincerely,

Z. Sposato

(And here's the part of the spam I was talking about)
-----Original Message-----
Return-Path: <>
Received: from mailgw.flash.net (phobos.flash.net [209.30.0.42])
by centurion.flash.net (8.8.8/8.8.5) with ESMTP id KAA24176;
Tue, 20 Jul 1999 10:54:25 -0500 (CDT)
Received: from mail.hanbardanblvd.com ([212.59.7.201])
by mailgw.flash.net (8.9.1/8.9.1) with SMTP id KAA27448;
Tue, 20 Jul 1999 10:53:00 -0500 (CDT)
Message-ID: tW1weeLTbHIGkb.JnvPjMDBp3Cp@mail.hanbardanblvd.com
Subject: UNIVERSITY DIPLOMAS
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 11:54:32 -0400 (EDT)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset="US-ASCII"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-UIDL: c34c35ad2ef9b18ccf94988919d761f4


UNIVERSITY DIPLOMAS

SPAM SNIPPED FOR BREVITY

-----------------------

Preston Replied:

Hi
FlashNet strives to reduce the amount of spam received by our subscribers.
We have installed a new mail gateway that functions as a "front door
filter" for all email.  However, despite our best efforts, spam will get
through from time to time.  We post current spam received by our
subscribers at http://support.flash.net/~nospam
and ask that our subscribers first check this page for action on any
particular piece of spam.  If the spam in question is not posted at that
page within three full working days of receipt, then please send headers of
any spam to 
no-spam@flash.net for investigation.
You must include all headers from the source of the email, not just from,
to, date, etc.
If you need instructions on how to obtain full headers from your email
software, please see http://www.flash.net/~support/esupport/headers.html
We actively block spamming domains and the amount of spam you are not
receiving is enormous.


Thanks,
Preston Ordrop
Email Support Manager support@flash.net
FlashNet Communications http://www.flash.net

Yes, it's the same canned response he sent before, which does not address
my specific questions about what can and can't be blocked, and do note that
I specifically asked that someone other than Mr. Ordrop handle this issue.


Jake Replied:

Yes, this is exactly what Mr. Ordrop did before. The page I'm being
directed to does not address my questions.

Z. Sposato


Preston Replied:

Hi
it does indeed; it covers spam related issues and reply above advises you
exactly what to do.
should you have any further questions please call voice support
817.332.8878 or 972.299.2290 and they will be happy to check/advise.


Thanks,
Preston Ordrop
Email Support Manager support@flash.net
FlashNet Communications http://www.flash.net

So here we have him showing that he's not aware of what's on the page he's
referring me to, or he doesn't care that it does not answer my question.
He's also directly contradicting a customer. Any elementary Customer Service
Class teaches that you NEVER do that. It NEVER helps, it only serves to make
the customer angrier. Note also that he gave me the brush-off, "any further
questions please call voice support", so that he doesn't have to deal with me.

Jake, having been blown off by the Email Support Manager,
Preston Ordrop, tries to contact someone above him.

To: mleslie@flash.net
Subject: Mr. Leslie, can you please help?

I do hope I've reached the proper Mr. Leslie, co-founder of Flashnet.
If you are not he, I sincerely apologize, I'm just having no luck at all
getting help from the email support manager.

I've been having a devil of a time with Mr. Ordrop, and with each
uncaring "get offa my back" email from him I get more and more
frustrated. I do have the previous emails that Mr. Ordrop and I have
exchanged, if you would be interested. Can you direct me to the
proper person to speak with about this matter?

Sincerely,

Z. Sposato

Not that surprisingly, I received no response from the co-founder of FlashNet.
This was a pretty strong indicator that the disinterest and lack of
professionalism and capability went even higher than Preston Ordrop.
I tried calling Customer Service and complaining. The lady said she
didn't know Preston, but that she'd be sure to "pass on my complaint". 
I never received a response.

In December of that year, I received a bit of SPAM from
FlashNet itself, trying to get me to recommend FlashNet.
Here's an excerpt:

From: Your Friends at FlashNet comments@flash.net
Date: Monday, December 06, 1999 10:15 AM
Subject: Referral Program Update

Dear FlashNet subscriber,

Spread the word.. Our last referral offer was so successful, we decided to
do another one. Right now, when you refer a friend to become a new FlashNet
customer, we'll give you a $50 credit (ADVERTISING SNIPPED)

Sincerely,
Your friends at FlashNet

Jake responded:

No thanks. Due to several horrible support experiences with
Preston Ordrop, and the ignoring of my complaints about this
man and his behavior, I no longer recommend FlashNet to anyone.

Jake

Now I would have expected a return email, a phone call, something, anything. 
If I were an employee of FlashNet and saw this kind of response, I'd sure
as heck investigate and get back to the customer. The response I received?
Nothing. Not much of a surprise, by that point.

Around May of this year, after running into a more regular type of support 
issue, I felt the need to check to see if they still employed this uncaring
lack of support manager. Isn't it a rather sad statement that customers check
to see if an employee still works there, before submitting a request for help?

Jake:

Is Preston Ordrop still the only email support person?

Jake

Preston unfortunately responded:

Hi
I handle all mail to support@flash.net, if you have a question i would be
happy to help.
Thanks,
Preston Ordrop
Email Support Manager support@flash.net
FlashNet Communications http://www.flash.net

I didn't pursue the issue. If he was still there, what was the point? He
refused to answer support questions. Which leads one to ask, why is he
there? I eventually enrolled in BRIGHTMAIL, a filtering service that ISPs
that care about filtering spam can use. They have been able to reduce the
spam I receive from about 10 a day to less than 1 every two weeks. I would 
have recommended this to FlashNet, but they had already demonstrated that
the LAST thing they are concerned about is their customers. However, when
one made it through, I followed the procedure recommended by FlashNet back
when Preston sent me the link to FlashNet's spam page. I sent them the
message with all headers. There's this one spammer that always came from the
same domain, ip69.outofpaper.com. So I thought "What the heck", I'll ask
FlashNet about it.

Jake:

And here's another one! I think this is like  number 14 in a row or so.
>    -----Original Message-----
>Received:  from stety.com (ip69.outofpaper.com [63.215.162.69] (may be
forged))
> by  ogopogo.flash.net (8.9.3/Pro-8.9.3) with SMTP id LAA05158
> jake@flash.net; Thu, 21 Sep 2000 11:47:59  -0500 (CDT)
>HOTTEENS@stety.com
>To: jake@flash.net
>Subject: Re: Just what you  are looking for!!!
>Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 02:05:04
><108.626503.607734@stety.com>
>Mime-Version:  1.0
>""
>X-UIDL:  127ee1fc89e7ba35ec32b7d10fcc9a4d   
>   The only TRULY 18  SITE!!!
>Click me!!
>
> You are about to enter the hottest  teen site 
(Rest of pornographic message snipped)

I felt that with the domain staying the same, and with them sending at least
one spam per day, the FlashNet support staff (which I sadly view as a bunch
of buffoons), might even stand a chance of filtering it out. Guess what
the reply was!

Preston responded:

Hi
please see http://www.flash.net/spam
for our policies concerning spam and correct reporting procedures.

Thanks,
Preston Ordrop
Email Support Manager FlashNet Communications
support@flash.net http://www.flash.net

OUCH! A spanking from Preston for bothering him! Naughty ME! BAD USER!
BAD SILLY MAN WHO GIVES FLASHNET HIS MONEY! I responded good naturedly,
as I knew that Preston Ordrop really couldn't care any less about providing
Support, no matter what his title is. Note that he includes it in each
message... :)

Jake responded:

Hey Preston! Didn't know you were still there. Had I known, I wouldn't
have bothered you with this. 

Jake

Now, if I were Preston, and I received this response from a user, I would
be concerned. Not only as a support professional, but as a manager of
a department. I'd be concerned as a representative of the company. And
as a matter of personal pride, I would be very concerned. Even when I've
had jobs that I didn't really like that much, I still did the best that
I could, because the job I did reflects upon who I am, what I am worth
to this world we all live in. I would contact this customer and ask (if
I truly didn't remember) just what it was that made him respond in such
a manner. But I have pride in the job I do. 

Preston's Response?

Nothing. Nada. Zip. 




After I sent out email to all of my contacts letting them know that I
was dropping FlashNet, I heard back from several people that they were
not surprised, and 3 who were also considering leaving. One young lady
responded with an email titled "Preston Ordrop AKA SATAN!". I present
her experiences in her own words. I've censored as appropriate.

Just read your manifesto at your old website - so you have also dealt with
that sociopath Preston.  What an ass h*le!  I can't tell you the number of
times I've gone round and round with that f*cking idiot.  And I hope you
forward this to the powers-that-be at flashnet because they need to know
what a detriment that criminal is to their company.  I am just this far
from changing ISPs, myself, and knowing that I am not the only one to have
blundered into that hell-spawn of Satan's insane little fantasy world of
idiot replies and ever-escalating mania is just about all I need.  I don't
know whether he thinks he's being cute and clever or if the man is just
truly a f*cking idiot, but believe me, I never want to set foot in his
little piece of hell on earth every again.  That may be their master-plan,
after all, to reduce complaints, but the end-result of that could be
absolutely no complaints at all because there are no longer any customers.
My account is due for renewal and I may just decline. 

Your fervent and avid admirer ...

**** *******

I'd say that Mr. Ordrop is not earning FlashNet any loving admirers.
True, her comments are harsh, but very indicative of the anger that
a substandard support person (let alone a manager) can engender in
customers.