How I complained to 1&1 Internet and got my money back.
I had to go to extremes, but maybe my story will help you?
Some time ago I had reason to complain to 1and1 Internet (now called 1&1 IONOS) over a domain name that they automatically renewed, despite my attempts to request they do not do so. The auto-renew, in August, cost £10.45 which, while inexpensive, was annoying nonetheless. However due to the fact that the debit card details 1and1 had on record were out of date, the payment for the auto-renew was declined, yet the domain was itself renewed.
A few weeks later 1and1 'locked' my account and stopped all services running across various domain names I had on this particular account. I made several phone calls to 1and1 to discuss the matter and each time I asked to speak with a manager. I was never put through to a manager because, according to the call centre operators , "management aren't customer facing."
1and1 insisted the auto-renew was valid and they expected to be paid in full, plus whatever additional fees the account incurred. All attempts to speak to a manager were refused and in October the company passed the disputed debt to BFS finance for collection.
I spoke with BFS and advised them that this was a disputed debt, they in turn advised me to call 1&1. Once more I tried to speak with someone in management on the telephone, however the debacle went from bad to worse in a series of telephone calls in which I was repeatedly given wrong information, lied to, cut off and generally ignored.
When I eventually got to speak with Mr Daniel Bromley who I was informed was a manager, I found that he was in actual fact just a lowly billing team leader incapable of using any discretion or customer service latitude. In fact Mr Bromley made matters worse by adopting an aggressive and confrontational attitude when we spoke, and like others before him, he tried to push the issue to another department.
A web search quickly revealed that I wasn't the only person who had fallen into this trap set by 1&1. In fact the company had an alarming amount of complaints made against them for similarly underhand and slippery business practices.
So I decided to record my calls to the company then post the calls online so others could hear just how terrible this company is.
|1||October 19th||An excerpt from a support call. "What?"||Play|
|2||October 24th||Call to BFS finance. Advised me to speak to 1and1.||Play|
|3||October 24th||Advised to speak with a "Mr Daniel".||Play|
|4||October 24th||Advised 30 mins later "Mr Daniel" still unavailable.||-|
|5||October 24th||Advised to email Daniel Bromley at firstname.lastname@example.org.||Play|
|6||October 25th||Cut off||Play|
|7||October 26th||Cut off||Play|
|8||October 26th||Told that Daniel Bromley doesn't speak with customers.||Play|
|9||October 27th||Requested a note be stuck to Mr Bromley's forehead.||Play|
|10||October 28th||More telephone strangeness and then cut off||Play|
|11||October 28th||"Good afternoon billing department" then cut off.||Play|
|12||October 28th||Cut off after asking if Mr Bromley was dead.||Play|
|13||October 28th||Call terminated after unacceptable period on hold.||Play|
|14||October 28th||Mr Bromley is alive! Alive and abruptly defending 1and1.||Play|
In my frustration, I created this website and only then did the company decide to constructively engage with the issue. This website got an almost immediate response from 1&1 internet general manager for UK operations (at the time), Neil Hobson, who called me to discuss the issue. Mr. Hobson was understandably unhappy after hearing the recordings. He informed me that a full review would be taken and that improvements would be made where necessary, though it seems pretty clear from the amount of email I get from people in similar situations, that if this did happen it was entirely ineffective.
In the end, 1&1 internet did resolve the issue. BFS finance were advised the debt was no longer valid and 1&1 reimbursed me for expenses I had incurred during the complaint. Regardless of the fact that 1&1 did eventually resolve my issue, it reflects very poorly on them that I had to employ such extreme measures to get them to give effective customer service.
Clearly, 1&1 design systems to catch people out and create problems for people that are easier to solve by paying them rather than fighting them. They're don't care to listen to your complaint and know that most people will simply give up in the end. So you have to decide if fighting them is worth the time and effort it will require. My first suggestion would be that, if you can, you simply move to a better web host, like my current web hosts GreenGeeks and Namecheap. However, if you've got the time and energy you could try the following.
Record all of your interactions with the company then make them public.
There are a number of apps that enable you to record calls, though back in 2005 I simply put my phone on speaker and used my computer to record audio. Remain calm when you talk to them, then post their unhelpful and combative calls online. Use social media like Twitter and YouTube. Get a free Wordpress account and detail your problem and link to the recordings. Call, email, and use social media to contact 1&1 and tell them about your site.
Email, telephone, and social media (Probably a waste of time)
I expect you've tried emailing and calling them and found that to be a frustrating waste of time. But just in case you haven't, their customer support number in the UK is listed as 0333 336 5691 and in the USA it's 866-991-2631.
Reaching out to them on social media will likely also be ineffective unless you have a significant amount of followers which might then motivate them to help you. However, people I've spoken to say this method hasn't worked for them.
Write them an actual letter
It's undeniably 'old school' but actual printed letters are still a very effective way of getting a good result. Very few people waste their time doing this so letters tend to carry some weight. However, don't waste your time writing to the customer service team. Find the name of the regional director for your country then address the letter directly to them. (You could address it to the CEO, Achim Weiss.) The letter will then be passed down to the customer service department, but in this instance your letter will likely be actioned as a priority having come from the executive office.
|UK address||US address|
154 Southgate Street
701 Lee Road
I use Namecheap and CrazyDomains to buy domain names and GreenGeeks for web hosting. They're straight forward companies that offer excellent human support. These companies aren't as cheap as 1and1, but I can confidently say you'll never look back.
I get a LOT of people contacting me asking for further help with their 1and1 internet problems. I am not an expert. I'm just a persistent guy who refused to be screwed by a bad company. That said, if you would like to contact me regarding 1&1 then click here to send me an email. You'll get a super fast auto-response with the answers to the commonly asked questions. I do read the emails, so if there is anything I can do, I'll get back to you.
If dealing with domain transfers, renewals, email issues, and support calls is something you neither have the time or patience for, then perhaps I can help. I personally manage the hosting and administration of domain names owned by a select group of individuals and businesses who prefer to have a personal point of contact for their domain name management. It's not a cheap service by any means, but it will ensure you never again find yourself searching the web looking for information about how to get yourself out of the kind of situation that has brought you to this website.
If that service sounds like something that could benefit from, let's talk.
This website was first created in 2005. The information remains relevant today because, judging from the volume of emails I still get from their unhappy customers and the number of complaints about them online, 1&1 continue to use questionable business practices. Since 2005 I have attempted to keep the information (links) up to date as a helpful resource to those who are searching for solutions regarding their 1&1 problem.