23 May, 2007

The whole ugly affair in brief (sort of)

A couple of you asked for the background on the whole 1&1 debacle. I meant to include links to related posts yesterday but was just so disgusted and wiped out that it didn't materialize.

Basically 1&1 charged us on two separation occasions for "Mehrfacheinwahl" (multiple dial-in). They claim someone used my password / ID to hack into my account and surf the Internet, and the onus was on us to prove that this hadn't happened. They refused to provide any further information about the charges-- I have no idea when this happened, how often, or for how long each time. All I know is that they debited EUR 600 from our bank account for 48,000+ minutes of internet use. (Despite the fact that we have a contract for unlimited use of the internet.)

We changed our passwords and lodged a formal complaint with the police, as 1&1 requested. We were then advised by the police, the bank, and acquaintances to contest the charges, (Wir haben sie in Widerspruch genommen.) We took back our money and then paid 1&1 for the remainder of the bill. They responded by cutting off our internet and turning us over to a collections agency.

We have legal insurance but that doesn't cover any of this since the problem started back in February and is considered a preexisting condition. I've contacted the Verbraucherscentrale for Baden Wuerttemburg for advice but they are taking too long to provide an answer.

In the meantime the costs are adding up for reminders, late charges, and now an additional EUR 117 for the collections agency. I honestly don't know if I've truly exhausted my resources since I'm no expert on German civil law, but I do know I've exhausted my patience and the faith that we will be vindicated in this absolutely rediculous situation.

The final straw was a letter yesterday from the collections agency saying that if we didn't pay the full sum within 3 days a legal proceeding would be started against us. And since we don't seem to have a leg to stand on I can only see the costs continuing to increase.

In the States, or the Netherlands or Belgium I would have better known what to do and whom to contact. I would have been able to write effective letters, generate publicity and know exactly what our rights are. But we are new to Germany, and thus handicapped; a fact which leaves me feeling frustrated, angry and completely helpless.

And, of course, when it rains it pours. We're living under the shadow of DaimlerChrysler's messy divorce anyway and the stress related to those insecurities coupled with 1&1 hell are wearing me out. It was time to cut our losses.

Thanks for all the friendly birthday wishes! I think the only positive part of this story is that I should be back Online again soon!


ian said...

i'd like to comment helpfully but things just don't seem to add up. How can you have a plan for unlimited internet access, yet be charged extra?
And if your account was hacked, isn't it a breach of *their* security, not yours?
If you just want to put this all behind you, i can relate. sometimes paying someone to get lost is the price for peace of mind and lessons learned.

Betsy said...

I know, I know, it's insane, isn't it? I made the same arguments to them but they claim that their system is airtight and that if someone is using my passwords that the fault is somehow mine. In many other countries they might have just dropped the fees to pacify me and keep a happy customer but they don't even have to do that since I'm locked in through July 2008 whether I like it or not.

And I can't even say that I've learned a lesson because it's not like I could have done anything differently except for to have changed my password more quickly to have cut the damages a bit.

I do worry, though, that it could happen again-- I've changed my password to make it more secure, but you can bet I'm also going to be extra vigilant about all my bills in the future....

Stuart said...

Hi Betsy

Just thought I'd let you know you're not alone. 1&1 have got to be the most useless, incompetent shower of baboons I have ever come across. They not only took unauthorised money from our company account but we also lost valuable customers because of their neverending incompetence and screw ups.

If you want 'ugly' I can send you a 19 page letter from me to our credit card company, outlining the case why we were claiming a refund from 1&1.

This letter contains 17 pages of Appendices outlining, step by step, item by item, incident by incident where this shower of baboons screwed up time after time over a period of 6 months, during which time we just could not get out of their claws.

So why am I replying to your blog? In the hope that somebody who was thinking of using the useless shower of muppets that is 1&1 will read this and go elsewhere.

Betsy said...

Hi Stuart! you know, I never thought I could laugh at an email that had the words 1&1 in it, but you managed the impossible. Thanks! :-D

Stuart said...

I found that with 1&1 it was laugh or cry. Generally I found myself reduced to tears. I see that you're a webmaster (me too - and I also used to live in Germany - Heidelberg) so if you're looking for an alternative to 1&1, I can recommend a company that we moved to about 3 years ago and have never had a problem with. They're called netcetera and are based in the IoM (maybe you should remove this bit from the blog in case anybody thinks I'm touting for business for netcetera and decides to go with 1&1 anyway - I would *hate* for that to happen!!)

Anouschka said...

I have a horror story witht hem too. They never turned the service on but claimed they did the second time they made a termin. Meanwhile both times I waited from 8am till 1600 and no service tekniker showed. Then they said it is working but we have not technically put it together right. BUt the light keeps blinking that shows they never switched our service on. They send long emails with technical advice, continue taking money out of my account. I refused to pay after the 2 nd time they did not show but then they just charged me an additional 50 euros for not paying. This is for a rental unit where I am losing rent since my tenants have no internet or phone.I went to Verbracuzentral and she is trying to help but says they will keep sending bills etyc etc. Meanwhile I have ccancelled the account which will become effective in 2 years. So since they insist they have turned the service on, and since my poor tenants still have neither internet or phone, it looks like I will be paying 1 and 1 for 2 years of NO SERVICE while having to find a provider that actually delivers. It is crazy and unethical and I am so furious at being bullied by these people. Who wants to get a group together and pay communally for a lawyer to hold these bullies accountable?????

Anouschka said...
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