Flashcom: Doors Are Still Open

Although customers are still having difficulties reaching anybody in support,
Flashcom officials asserted Tuesday they are working around the clock to
resolve the growing number of complaints flooding its phone banks.

The digital subscriber line provider was the focus of considerable customer
ire Monday when its two main support lines hung up on customers looking for
assistance. This prompted reports on several online customer forums claiming
Covad Communications, Flashcom’s DSL provider, was switching the lines to
customers from other ISPs and shutting them down.

Steve Fowler, Flashcom vice president of customer care, said they are open
for business and that any phone problems customers might have experienced
yesterday were unintentional.

“We’re clearly open for business,” Fowler said. “Perhaps we had a phone call
problem that inadvertently cut off our customers. We’re not intentionally
trying to hang up on the customer. Our lines have been swamped with hundreds
of phone calls, and rather than have our customers wait in queue for an
extended period of time, they might have been directed to call back.”

Reports indicate the company lost a database containing its customer credit
card information, adding to an already overburdened support demand.

While Fowler denies the reports as false, he did say the company has been in
the process of changing its billing system. A special team of customer
support representatives, made up of employees from throughout the company,
was formed to handle credit card updates, he said.

The process for getting the customer’s credit card information seems to be
the only process working with any consistency on Flashcom’s phone system.
Customers are immediately routed into a voice mailbox to leave their name,
phone number, email address, credit card number and expiration date.

Getting through to customer support, on the other hand, is still a chancy
proposition. Seven phone calls out of ten to its two support lines netted a
hang up message that said, “due to an unusually high volume of calls, we are
unable to process your phone call. Please try again later,” followed by
disconnection. The other three were placed in queue.

For now, the short-term goal at the ISP is to catch up on the pending support
issues. To do that, Fowler said, some aspects of the company’s business
will need to be adjusted.

“Right now, we’re de-emphasizing our sales in the short term to address the
support issue,” Fowler said. “Right now, we’re working together as a team,
we have everyone throughout the company answering taking phone calls.”

The privately-held company currently runs its operations out of offices in
southern California and Boston, and employs more than 400 employees.

Because the company is privately owned, officials are not required to release
the number of customer issues pending, saying only they hope to catch up
sometime in the near future.

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