How hard do some companies make it to do business with them? Very hard, if OzEmail is anything to go by.
You would expect that in the cutthroat ISP world, customer retention would be the highest priority. In an industry where the number of customers you have is the basic ingredient by which all valuations are calculated, a bit of flexibility in how you receive payment and connect new users would be in order.
One Tabloid spy recently rationalised his dealings with those rotten, lying, cheating, stinking, money-grabbing, thieving and protected institutions that are banks by paying off and cancelling all credit cards. When informing OzEmail a new method of billing and payment would be required, our spy was told OzEmail only accepted payment by credit card.
When the ISP was informed that unless they offered an alternative, it had lost a customer, the response from OzEmail's call centre lackey was that "a lot of people have been telling us that lately" and "sorry, can't help you".
The thing that was so amazing about this is that there are just so many alternative ISPs and methods of seeking remittance for services.
Our spy was flabbergasted, as there have to date been no complaints about the quality of OzEmail's service or the cost. "I now pay all my bills by bPay and wanted to do the same with my Internet connection charges," our spy said. "I was a good and loyal customer for over three years and was quite happy to stay with them but they showed no inclination to try and retain my business.
"I always thought one of the fundamentals of good business was that it takes a lot more money to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one."
OzEmail's loss was their biggest rivals gain as our spy managed to reconnect through an alternate supplier in 10 minutes and now pays via bPay.
In passing on the tale of woe, another Tabloid staffer offered a similar, painful experience in dealing with OzEmail.
Once you are connected to the Internet it is easy to forget what life was like without it. But the boys at OzEmail (and don't get me for sexism; do any females actually work there? We haven't come across any), seem to have entirely forgotten that for many of their potential customers the Web is still part of the big computer unknown.
Tabloid tried in vain to quickly connect the in-laws, who, armed with a computer, modem and phone line, were all set to fill in the gaps and open the door to the World Wide Web.
But when time is of the essence, even the lure of quick money with the old credit-card-over-the-phone trick won't help OzEmail connect you quickly. Of course, the CD will connect you straight away, but the whole point of e-mail is that we don't have to rely on the vagaries of the postal system.