Dear EarthLink Customer Support,
This blog entry may seem like an unusual way to get in touch with you, but I've run out of options. You don't accept postal mail or phone calls, and your Support Center Feedback page generates an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, which your email system bounces! I've considered visiting your office in Atlanta and demanding to see a corporate representative, but I suspect I'll only find myself in a crowd of many thousands of other crazed dissatisfied customers wailing in agony in your lobby.
Here's the problem: For about 96 hours — from at least Saturday morning to sometime before this morning — visitors to my web site www.charlespetzold.com were greeted with the following image:
What a horrifying thing to see on a web site that's been around for over 10 years! People thought I had retired or died! Even I had to check my pulse to see if I was OK. (Turned out my pulse was running much faster than usual, and I think even a little steam was coming out of my ears.)
What was really bizarre — and I think you can confirm this if you check your records — is that my web site isn't even hosted by EarthLink! It was at one time, but I fixed that problem late last summer. What EarthLink effectively did here was hijack my web site and replace it with a ridiculously inaccurate advertisement for your obviously incompetant web-hosting services.
Suppose I ran a small store, and one morning I discovered that my store had been boarded up — not by my landlord, but by my former landlord — and a big sign had been nailed up advertising my former landlord's other properties. Would I be far off in characterizing this behavior as outrageous, inexcusable, and despicable?
Yet, that's exactly what you did to my web site and my email. As a freelance writer and programmer, my web site is my public identity and the face of my business, and by hijacking my web site, EarthLink — whether willfully or not — has been destroying my business and obstructing free trade. Obviously you should be punished for what you've done. But what legal recourse do I have? Basically none that I know of. The idea of hauling EarthLink into court and getting some satisfaction is, of course, only a pleasant fantasy.
What's worse is that some visitors to my site might have assumed that I was actually endorsing EarthLink. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I never even wanted EarthLink to host my web site. My very first Internet Service Provider (and host of my first web site, www.cpetzold.com), was The Pipeline, a small company with plenty of warm fuzzies, and which, if I recall, was called Pipeline New York in its local incarnation, so it always seemed very close and dear — right in the neighborhood.
In 1996, The Pipeline was assimilated into MindSpring, which was still a pretty decent company. It was through MindSpring that I started up my current web site, www.charlespetzold.com. Then, in 1999, MindSpring was assimilated into EarthLink, and largely through inertia my web site remained with EarthLink until it became very apparent that EarthLink simply does not offer a reasonably priced hosting plan that gives me the moderate disk space and bandwidth my tiny web site requires.
So I left. I have a new web host now. They're not perfect, but they have what you do not. I'm sorry, but it was time for me to move on.
Now, apparently, you want me back, and I'm afraid that our long relationship has caused you to behave in a pathological manner. Like a rejected and demented lover, you've chosen to express your loss and disappointment by retaliating with vandalism and violence. It's not going to work!
Let me speak honestly: In the many years that we've known each other, you've let yourself go. You're not looking after your health. You've become bloated and even a little (I hate to say it) smelly. Frankly, I can no longer stand to be in the same room as you, and this latest tactic to get me back simply causes you to seem much uglier in my eyes.
Whatever we had in the past, it's over. Please, please, please, just leave me alone.
Your former customer,