Monday, October 22, 2007

Lycos/Tripod offers a merry f*** you to its users!

First posted to my old Yahoo 360 blog Tuesday July 17, 2007 - 05:03pm (CDT)

There are some moments that just leave one scratching one's head in wonder. One of those moments happened just now. Let's say that you're running a free webhosting service. Presumably, since your income depends on the ad revenue generated by the visits to the sites on your system, content provided to you free of charge by the way, you might be seen as having a vested interest in supporting your users, as they try to make the best sites they can. So, what would be one thing that you might want to really, really, really NOT want to do?

How about, arbitrarily lock people out of their own accounts, thwarting any attempt on their part to add new material to their sites or otherwise update them in any way? Forget the usual babbling about the accounts being free and beggars not being choosers - which is garbage anyway, because we pay for those services with the loan of the content we provide - and get back to the common sense question of why on earth a provider would want to do that. Yet I can report firsthand that Tripod (a subsidiary of Lycos) did exactly that, just last night.

I attempted to login to Tripod in order add a little material to Joseph Dunphy's Cowboy Wannabee Site, and to my amazement, as I clicked on the "login" button, found myself on the Lycos search engine page. "Has the system mangled my password?", I wondered, knowing that I hadn't, because I had it written down. I clicked on the link on the Lycos page marked "forgot username or password" - and absolutely nothing happened. I went nowhere. I closed then closed all but one of the widows, cleared my cache and rebooted - standard operating procedure. Same result, and I noticed a few other interesting details. See the part where it says "write a blog, build a site, share your photos"? I clicked on the button that says "start now", which a prospective new user would hit if he wanted to begin a new account and found myself, not on an application form - but back on that seach engine page!!! Anything I did ending up leaving me there, and logged into nothing.

Clinging to my admittedly mystifying belief that when something has broken down, one ought to write to support about it, I did, and promptly got to watch support play the stand BOFH game of pretending that the problem didn't exist, as it sent out a form letter response.

Your message on Mon, Jul 16th 2007 5:42 pm

Your system will not let me log into Tripod, and when I click on the "lost password" link, nothing happens. Not that the password I'm entering could possibly be wrong - I have the darned thing written down. What happens when I try to log in, is that instead of ending up in my member space, I end up on the Lycos search engine page

where the "lost username or password" link I tried clicking on is displayed.

Message by Tyler on Tue, Jul 17th 2007 6:50 am

Please note that we are able to log into your account with your username and password.

Clearing your cache will likely fix most of the errors you are receiving as well as significantly improve the speed and performance of your browser.

The following procedures provide steps to clear the cache memory from your browser:

Clearing Cache on Microsoft® Internet Explorer 7.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select INTERNET OPTIONS
Under the heading entitled Browsing History, click the Delete button
To clear the cookies select the DELETE COOKIES button
To clear the stored temporary Internet files select the Delete Files button
Click close to return to the Internet Options menu, then click OK to return to your main browser window.

Clearing Cache on Mozilla Firefox 2.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select Clear Private Data
Ensure that the Cache and Cookies selection boxes are checked off.
Click the button labeled Clear Private Data Now.
You will automatically be returned to your main browser window.

Clearing Cache on Netscape 8.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select Privacy.
Click the Clear button next to the Cookies heading and click the OK button when prompted.
Click the Clear button next to the Cache headingand click the OK button when prompted.
Click OK to return to the main browser window.

Clearing Cache on Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select INTERNET OPTIONS
To clear the cookies select the DELETE COOKIES button in the middle of the window under the Temporary Internet files section
Click OK in the Delete Cookies window
Click OK to return to the main browser window.

Tyler D.
Customer Service
Lycos Services.

Your message on Tue, Jul 17th 2007 12:44 pm


I cleared my cache last night before I wrote to you, and I did so repeatedly, and I got the same result. Further, just out of curiosity, I checked to see what would happen were I to try to go to the form used to set up a new Tripod account. Once again, I found myself on the Lycos search page.

So you'll forgive me, I hope, if I view your response with more than a little skepticism, and ask you to please respond to a serious problem report with something more serious than an attempt to bluff the user into believing that he didn't see what he saw, as you dust off the same form letter every ISP seems to send to every user who reports any problem with the system. Clearing the cache does not cure all ills. Sometimes you guys will need to actually break down and do some maintenance.

But if they're actually going to do any maintenance, I've seen no sign that this is going to be the case. All that "Tyler" (if that is his real name) was willing to do was cut and paste the form letter that you just saw and expect me to be satisfied with that, and I obviously can't be satisfied with that. Not being able to get into the file manager is not something that I, as a user, can simply work around. This is something that is going to stop me absolutely dead in the water. As for Lycos itself, the company these staffers are supposedly working for, how does it imagine its Tripod subsidiary will fare when its users, discovering that they've been locked out of their own accounts, eventually give up and move to other providers, and new users, ones who I assume wouldn't have heard of this, find that they can't sign up?

I'm going to write to the technical contact for Tripod and see what the company has to say about this, and be sure to post about any further developments on this blog. But until then, I've added a new member site to the Lycos Homepage Ring, a forum entitled "ISP Reports: Tripod, Ringsurf, Webring and the Rest, where you can talk about what has gone right and what has gone wrong at the service you use. New members will always be sought, but as usual, postmodernists, corporate shills and other undesirables need not apply.

Added Thursday, July 19: Googlegroup post