Here at Splitwise we’re a small start up, which means that we don’t spend a ton of money on marketing and advertising. It’s something that we do ourselves through various outlets; one being answering questions on Yahoo! Answers when people ask about rental advice. It’s a good way to get our name out there, and get some visibility on our sweet rent calculator.
Well, it was a good way until last week. On Wednesday I woke up to my Yahoo mailbox looking like this:
Ok, I thought, maybe I did something wrong. I spent a good 20 minutes going over the Guidelines they point you to, trying to figure out what I said that would get me flagged. After reading it over a couple of times and not seeing anything I did to violate their terms, I asked my co-workers to look it over. They also agreed with my assessment that no rules were broken according to Yahoo’s set guidelines. I went through the appeal process, stating in each one that I didn’t know what I did wrong and to please let me know so I wouldn’t repeat my mistake again. They tell you that it’s a 1-2 day wait to get an answer on your appeal. 24 hours go by and I hear nothing, then 48 hours…crickets are still chirping in my inbox.
Tune into Monday morning, when I get this gem of an email in my inbox.
If you feel you were not in violation, please contact our Customer Care and tell us why.
Yahoo! Customer Care”
I then click on the customer care link and ask very politely what happened, and explained that it’s most likely one of our competitors trolling us (I say that because whoever flagged the answers, only flagged the ones that had to do with Splitwise). I asked for clarification again if there was anything I did to violate the Guidelines. Within a minute I received an email that stated the following:
This is an automated message regarding your recent request for Yahoo! Customer Care support. In order to properly assist you, please go to the Yahoo! homepage and contact us by clicking on the help link at the bottom of the page.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Thank you for reaching out to us. We look forward to helping you!
Yahoo! Customer Care “
Besides giving a bad email link in their suspension email; clicking on the help link they point you to just brings you to a death loop of automated FAQ answers, with no clear way to communicate with a real person. I wonder, is there no actual moderator overlord of Yahoo! Answers? How can that be?! Talk about frustrating!
This experience has me conviced that one or more of the following theories have to be true:
- Yahoo! is actually run by evil robots, therefore you can’t communicate with a real person, ever.
- Answers is social experiment on self policing and someone on the back end is laughing when people try to revert any judgment that someone else has made on them.
- Answers did suspend me for some violation that I unknowingly did, but doesn’t have good enough customer service to tell me why.
It’s now painfully clear why Yahoo! fell to the back of the line when it comes to the search engine war. They can’t even give out the correct email address for themselves when communicating with their users. This whole fiasco did teach me some valuable life lessons though:
- Reddit is way better (and cooler) when it comes to a self policing environment.
- You can troll people on Yahoo! Answers with no actual consequence.
- Good customer service is invaluable, no matter the platform.
The last point stuck out the most to me. I may not be offering up life changing advice to others, or deciding who gets to be banned from any message board; but I do need to make sure our users are all getting the best customer service experience that we can offer. So Splitwise users – please keep writing in to us, and I’ll make sure we respond and give the best customer experience we can offer…not some automated email that no one ever reads.
UPDATE: An executive at Yahoo! saw my post and reached out to me. You can read about it here!