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I’d like to give a shout-out to two of the dumbest customer service conversations I’ve had in quite a while.

Dumb: Yahoo Search Marketing

Dumb conversation #1 was with Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM). I have a new account on YSM that I run a few small personal campaigns through. I guess I’m accustomed to the full functionality of the “Diamond Ambassador” account which, while nowhere near as useful as a basic Google AdWords account, at least gives you some limited functionality through which you can make bulk changes to your keywords and ad text.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that my basic YSM account didn’t have any bulk functionality whatsoever. In other words, if I just wanted to update 100 tracking URLs (a task that takes about five seconds with the Google Desktop Editor), I would have to manually update each URL one-by-one. It would take me at least 45 minutes to complete this process.

This is silly, I thought. Why would YSM exclude good functionality from their users? Surely restricting users’ ability to make changes to their account would reduce ROI and thus reduce spend on YSM. So I wrote Yahoo customer service and asked for an upgrade. Here’s what I wrote:

I can’t find the section of the account where I can make mass uploads to the account via Excel. I know this exists but it is apparently not enabled in my account. Can you please upgrade my account beyond the “beginner” version.

I figured that once a customer service person saw that I had some experience with YSM and could ‘handle’ advanced features, they’d instantly upgrade my account. Instead, I got this response:

Hello David,

Thank you for contacting us regarding your import question. At this time, the import feature not available for your account. It is available for those advertisers who spend at least $200 a month for 3 consecutive months or over $6000.00 a year. This is something we monitor and will make available to you as your account grows.

In this case, we will be happy to import your campaign for you as a one time courtesy. We will need the spreadsheet in .csv or .tsv format. The .csv format stands for comma separated value and tsv stands for tab separated value. Please attach the file to an email and we will do the import for you. Please be aware the import may take 3-4 business days to complete.

Does this make any sense at all? They are going to give me “a one time courtesy” to perform a task that really they should be bending over backwards to help with, or even better, that I could perform myself? And worse still, “the import may take 3-4 business days to complete.” Folks, this is the Internet we are talking about here – 3-4 days is an eternity. Bottom line, this is just a bad business practice – not providing tools to all users, making extra work for Yahoo staff members, and taking way too long to do it. Is it any wonder that AdWords has such dominant marketshare?

Dumber: IX Web Hosting

Just when you thought that no company could possible out-dumb Yahoo, along comes IX Web hosting. There are millions of Web hosts out there, and I’m pretty sure that the ones that survive are the ones that sign up customers and keep them for many, many months. So I assumed that the customer service team would be more than willing to help me answer some basic questions about my hosting package. You see, I had a few days on one of my sites where it looked like the site was offline, or at the very least loading very slowly. And since I run ads on AdWords, and AdWords now penalizes sites with slow loadtime with bad Quality Scores, I can’t afford to run the risk that my AdWords account gets shut down thanks to hosting problems.

So I went on the IX live chat to try to get some info about load time. What follows is the complete and shocking transcript of my conversation. Note that to protect the innocent (or more specifically, to prevent the Russian mafia from coming after me), I’ve changed the name of the customer service rep in this chat.

Sergey Putin: Welcome, this is Sergey, how can I help you?

you: Hi, where can I get data on page load time and server uptime for my site?

Sergey Putin: You can’t have it

you: OK, then how do I know that my web host isn’t going offline frequently, as I suspect

Sergey Putin: There are no ways to do it

you: I am thinking of canceling my hosting account and asking for a refund because the page load time is sometimes very slow and sometimes non-existent. What do you advise I do to increase my confidence in IX, or should I just cancel?

Sergey Putin: Create the ticket for cancellation please

you: OK, will do. Thanks

While I admire Sergey’s blunt honesty, I can’t imagine this was what IX intended when they set up their live chat customer service. Maybe this is a good lesson about the dangers of outsourcing. Now if only I could combine YSM’s stupidity with IX’s rudeness . . . Oh wait, it’s already happened, it’s called the airline industry!