This Passport PREVENTS Travel!
by Mike Banks Valentine
Recently Microsoft bCentral required all users of it's ListBuilder
Service to sign up for and use the Microsoft .NET passport system
by converting to that system before allowing log-in to their existing
I normally distribute my list through ListBuilder on Sunday evening
for delivery by Monday morning to my subscribers. I got NO NOTICE
there was to be a change to the system until I tried to log in to
my list last Sunday evening, December 3, 2001 and couldn't.
The sign in system crashed my Netscape Browser twice, so I opened
up Explorer 5 and it just locked into a loop of agreeing to the
terms of service, I mark the "Agree" radio button and click "next"
to be returned to the terms of service agreement over and over again.
I give up with Explorer and return to Netscape. Now my computer
freezes entirely. I give up after 2 hours of trying different
approaches. The "Help" screen is worthless.
Monday A.M. I try to log in again on Netscape and go through the
process again at bCentral. Now when I click the "Next" button
. . . NOTHING HAPPENS AT ALL! I open Explorer 5 and try again to
get back to the terms of service feedback loop once again. Click
the button that says "I Agree" to the TOS and get returned back
the default "I do not agree" button checked over and over again.
I call customer support. I wait on hold for 45 minutes before
giving up fed up with the awful loop of loud Christmas music
I've heard repeatedly, along with that wonderful recorded, "All
of our customer service representatives are busy. Please hold
and your call will be answered in the order received" Well either
there is one person that can't get satisfaction who won't hang up
or there are six hundred angry callers ahead of me (or both).
I give up. I try again, for a WEEK!
I still don't have my ezine out two issues later, I still can't
get through the customer support phone waiting list. I sent an
email to bCentral support and got no answer. I have a paid
advertiser for the ezine and now I've got to explain that I'm
locked out of my list host and refund the money.
This has got to be one of Microsofts' finest hours. I could care
less about passport as I never intend to use it for anything but
this service and will not share my personal info with them to save
my life after this debacle. So I'm willing to sign up for passport
for ListBuilder only, but all I want to do is access and distribute
my newsletter! My subscribers and advertisers will love me for
After attempting for a full week to send out two issues of my
newsletter, that I can't get by the ridiculous feedback loop of
agreeing to the terms of service over and over again or getting
signed in with the passport I create but then being prompted to
convert my account to passport. When I follow instructions I
still get the following message.
"The Microsoft .NET Passport you used to sign in is valid,
but we cannot locate your bCentral account"
When I attempt to convert again, I get the message over again.
I still can't get through on the phone and cannot afford to
spend much more time trying.
They have not answered my queries sent to support and now I've
gone two weeks without sending my newsletter out. I sent a post
to LinkExchange Digest, but of course as a Microsoft sponsored
publication, they won't publish my complaints.
I'm locked out of my account, I have only a two month old
subscriber list for backup and I can't get any attention. This
is the most absurd thing I've seen since trying to change
registrars from Network Solutions to a helpful and reasonable
vendor that charges less and actually talks to me when I need
We're forced to use passport, but then can't convert from our
previous account when we establish a passport. This behavior
could only come from a corporate behemoth that doesn't give a
flying @#$% about individual customers. Only the mass market.
And then only when they don't complain.
I found a page at bCentral for support phone calls and found
that phone support costs $9.95 monthly with a minimum commitment
of one year! or you can save $20 and pay for the year in advance.
So, in essence, you can pay us now or pay us more now. But wait,
at the bottom of the page it says the following:
bCentral Subscriber Phone Support is available to current
So the truth is that you can't even PAY to talk to them about
ListBuilder! Does anyone find this in the least bit objectionable?
I've never seen worse customer service for paying customers
Can you imagine signing up for the .NET passport zwallet and
getting this kind of help when they have control of your money
at (if they get the adoption they are hoping for) HUNDREDS or
even thousands of sites across the web? This ought to be a
warning call for those considering handing over personal
information to passport and .NET and a clear signal that
they won't provide customer support when you have trouble
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