Customer DisService

Hrm, I think I’ve ranted about this before, but I CANNOT believe that an organisation can consistantly give such shocking support!  I wanna scream! (but I’ll restrain myself for fear of freaking out my co-workers)

Ok, here’s the deal… starting from the begining…

Last year I was looking for a way to SMS people easily from my PC. I wanted nice and easy grouping of people, and a few other things that I just wasn’t finding in existing applications.  So I thought I’d write my own… After searching, I found that IDWS had an SMS Webservice (and web interface).

Soon after that, I got engaged and I wanted to let a whole bunch of people know really easily… I had a list of cell numbers, so I went to their site, which allows me to SMS a list of numbers.  I did a quick test by filling in my Cell number, and clicked “send”.  I waited… and I waited… and I waited… so I clicked on their log of sent messages and saw that I’d suddenly sent like 200 odd SMS’s… the first one was to me, and had a message.  All the rest were sent to an empty number (ie no value had been entered for the “to” field), and had an empty message.  And I’d been charged for all of them. (i.e. I’d been charged for sending nothing to nobody)

I e-mailed their support to tell them about it, and they e-mailed back that they can’t be held responsible if I simply click “send” repeatedly…  I was kinda shocked since I don’t know anyone who can click a button over 180 times in 30 seconds.  So clearly it wasn’t me who was doing the clicking, and nobody else had logged on as me.  I’m guessing there was a proxy or something in the middle that decided to re-query their site or something….  As a web developer, I’ve had clients irate over lesser problems…

Part of the conversations revealed that aparently their system still sends the sms to the cellphone networks, even if it has an “empty” number.  But they have some javascript on the page to prevent you from sending an sms without entering one.  So I was also blamed for switching off JavaScript on my machine and I was told that it was my fault.  I was like “Great, so now its my fault that you can’t do proper input validation?  My JavaScript was enabled, and I didn’t click the button.”  But it was still my fault.  They graciously (according to them) refunded me 1/2 of the credits, and wouldn’t deal with the problem any further. So I left it…

Recently (3 months ago) I started needing to SMS members of the choirs at church, so I thought I’d give IDWS another go… Since then I’ve had the one error occur 3 times, with the same result.

Here’s the outline of what happens:  For some reason their SMS system can’t access their MySQL database, and it throws an exception.  The message their Webservice returns to me is “Exception: [TCX][MyODBC]Can’t connect to MySQL server on ‘’ (10060)”.  The message never gets sent, but their online system shows it as having been sent and I get charged for it.  If I look in their SMS Log, I can “verify” that the message was sent… But if I do that, I get an error saying that there is no tracking information for the SMS because I used an old version of their software. 

I think it really means that their software added the log, but never got to adding a tracking record.  So when I ask their system to “verify” that the message was sent, the query returns no tracking rows and the system assumes that the message was sent with an old version of the software. (BTW: throughout this time, the software version that the Web Service returns is 2.0, so I’ve always used the latest version of their software)

Each time, I’ve had to e-mail them to tell them that their system has messed up.  Each time, they’ve told me that it was my fault because of X, or that I was wrong in what I told them because of Y.  Each time, I’ve had to reply to correct them and step them through their own systems so that they can finally see that there is a problem.  This third time, I thought I’d learned… so I gave them ALL the details I’ve given them before.  I told them that I’d had the same problem twice before (but I stupidly forgot to give them the tracking numbers of the previous support requests)… So they replied and said:

 “We apologise for the error that comes up. However your sent SMS’s will
only come up in the SMS usage log if they left our server.

If the intended recipiant did not recieve the SMS, please let us know,
so we can make double sure on our side that the message left our system.”

Now… SURELY if this is the 3rd time that I’ve had the SAME problem, they would just have “double checked” before they replied?  Well… I guess I shouldn’t have expected that… (In one of the previous problems, they took a day to reply “please send us your username”… when if they’d just bothered to search on my e-mail address they would have found my user)

I’m SICK AND TIRED of having them ALWAYS blame me for something, and NEVER being thorough in what they do.  Geez, its a flipping recurring ERROR… their API doesn’t return the nice numeric error code its supposed to, it returns “Exception: [TCX][MyODBC]Can’t connect to MySQL server on ‘’ (10060)”, and their database processes are never completed! (hence the lack of tracking data)  Can’t they just handle the exception like any semi-decent developer would!   But no… its my fault for not doing something… I just can’t wait to see what the my fault is this time.

The first time I got this error, I was complained at for not giving them all of my user account details or the full error message (it was my first time I’d seen this… I told them was that their system “couldn’t connect to the MySQL server” but that wasn’t good enough… ok, so the account details are kinda excusable… but really, what more could I have told them about the error? 

The second time that I emailed them about the error I mentioned that the same error had happened again (this time I copied and pasted the exact error message into the email)… However I was told off because it wasn’t the same thing that caused the error this time around.  This time, their MySQL server was undergoing maintenance – so what? Does that mean that its any less of an ERROR?  And anyway *I* got the same error message returned to me both times… So to me, the user, it’s the same error… I wanted to say something like “Shut the heck up! Don’t tell me off for not diagnosing YOUR backend problems successfully! Just fix the bloody thing!”

This time I get told that I wouldn’t be charged if it wasn’t sent… BUT I WAS charged and it WASN’T sent!

Right now, I think I’m the idiot for still using them… but I can’t find anyone else that has a Web services API, and I’ve 1/2 implemented the COM API for Clickatell, so since I needed to quickly use it this morning, I stuck with what I hoped would work… Anyway… once I have the Clickatell api up and running I’ll never have to deal with the people at IDWS again… (who clearly have never heard of anything like “The customer is always right”, or even “be nice to your customers”)

4 replies on “Customer DisService”

Rich…! – I’m still using them coz their API was simple to use… Click-a-Tell’s one is not too easy, but I’ve pretty much finished setting it up (Just waiting for Click-a-Tell to sort out my username on their site… It got "expired" because I haven’t used it in a year, and they keep "un-expiring" it but I still can’t log in – I hope their customer service improves otherwise I’m gonna be looking for yet another SMS provider…)

Anonymous – Two reasons why I don’t use SMSPop…

1) Their app doesn’t allow grouping of contacts..

2) They don’t provide any API for me to use to write my own program for sending the messages (so I can build the "grouping" functionality)…

I used to work there, and lemme tell you what….The "head of technical servoces" is a 21yr old without much formal training except fro some cockamamie certificate in delphi from some unknown "educational institution"….Go figure..Senior management spends more time and money flying their little plane than they do worrying about business….Anyone noticed that they’ve now become "altonet"…yeah, mismanage my balls clowns….

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