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Skype Doesn't Want My Money

January 5, 2014

I purged Microsoft over 10 years ago, or so I thought.  They worked their way back into my life several years ago when they bought Skype.  I wasn't too worried at the time, but then, like a shot in the dark, it arrived:

Yes, that all to common and widely feared error message that roughly translates into: "Something broke, we don't know, we don't care."

I was doing something as routine as changing my billing credit card.  I tried a dozen or so times.  I even managed to find a human, "Alex D" (name changed to protect the innocent) to help me via live chat after navigating the labrynth of "support" pages that communicate more "you're on your own" than "we value your business."  A phone number for billing support?  Nope.  Not only is it not on their website, it's not even available through Alex D. Will they call me?  Apparently not, even though another tech said someone would call me. Imagine this, a company that makes a ton of money offering telephony sevices not offering any telephone support. #facepalm

What follows is my communication with Alex D asking me to do all sorts of client side trouble-shooting, none of which have any relevancy to the problem at hand.

info: at 13:18:12
 
Please wait for an agent to respond. You are currently '1' in the queue.
info: at 13:18:14
 
Privacy Statement 
You are now chatting with 'Alex D'.
Alex D: at 13:18:22
 
Hello! Welcome to Skype Live Support!
Alex D: at 13:18:22
 
My name is Alex. How may I help you today?
Stephen: at 13:18:31
 
Hello Alex. I got disconnected from Frank. Is he available?
Alex D: at 13:18:44
 
Hi Stephen,
Alex D: at 13:19:34
 
I think I will be the one to assist you further now. Sorry about the disconnection, may I know what's the concern?
Stephen: at 13:20:41
 
I've been having trouble changing my billing credit card. He was going to give me some instructions on how to optimize Safari to get it to work.
Alex D: at 13:20:58
 
I see,
Alex D: at 13:22:37
 
Alright, I will be the one to assist you there. May I ask if you have tried to use another browser?
Stephen: at 13:22:56
 
Yes. Safari, Chrome and FireFox. I am on a Mac so IE is not an option.
Stephen: at 13:23:09
 
Here's what is happening. I took screenshots of the process:
Alex D: at 13:23:15
 
Yes,
Stephen: at 13:23:23
 
1. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4770698/Skype/Screen%20Shot%202014-01-05%20at%2012.09.11%20PM.png
Stephen: at 13:23:30
 
2. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4770698/Skype/Screen%20Shot%202014-01-05%20at%2012.09.19%20PM.png
Stephen: at 13:23:38
 
3. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4770698/Skype/Screen%20Shot%202014-01-05%20at%2012.09.28%20PM.png
Alex D: at 13:23:45
 
thank you
Stephen: at 13:23:49
 
Every time I try, it's the exact error.
Alex D: at 13:24:08
 
Let me just check,
Alex D: at 13:29:04
 
Stephen I am sorry but we cannot check it using the dropbox website. Inconvenient, I know. Can you copy the error message here instead please?
Stephen: at 13:29:42
 
So I enter my new CC information.
Alex D: at 13:29:56
 
Yes,
Stephen: at 13:31:06
 
Then I get a screen that says: "Nearly there: All you need to do is to confirm to your bank that you are who you say you are. Just click on Verify Payment and it will take you to your bank account. What's going to happen next? The page you are about to visited is hosted by your credit/debit card provider. They will ask security questions. To verify payment, just follow the steps asked by your bank."
Stephen: at 13:31:19
 
I then click on the Verify payment button at the bottom of the page.
Alex D: at 13:31:27
 
Yes
Stephen: at 13:31:52
 
I then get a screen with the Bank of America and Visa logo and it says "Your card is being protected by Bank of America, processing…"
Alex D: at 13:32:01
 
yes
Stephen: at 13:32:28
 
After about 5 seconds, I get returned back to the "Skype Premium settings" page where I started with "An internal error occurred" message at the top.
Stephen: at 13:32:34
 
That's it.
Alex D: at 13:33:15
 
I see, Internal error. thank you for these detailed explanation, Stephen. Just a moment
Stephen: at 13:38:51
 
ok
Alex D: at 13:39:57
 
Stephen is your browser open?
Alex D: at 13:40:09
 
please click the Safari menu and select Empty Cache...
Alex D: at 13:40:29
 
Click Empty please
Stephen: at 13:40:37
 
Done.
Alex D: at 13:41:19
 
Thank you, can you please try again
Stephen: at 13:41:36
 
starting
Alex D: at 13:41:42
 
thank you
Stephen: at 13:42:33
 
"An internal error occurred."
Alex D: at 13:42:58
 
Right, Stephen please Go to the Safari menu at the top of the screen and select "Preferences."
Stephen: at 13:43:05
 
I've been at this quite a while. Frank said someone could call me to get my CC information. I gave him hours for tomorrow. I'd like to just do that.
Stephen: at 13:43:41
 
OK, one last thing. I'm on the preferences window. What next?
Alex D: at 13:43:45
 
Alright, Stephen but please do try to Click on "Privacy" at the top of the window that opens. Click on "Remove All Cookies and Website Data." A window opens showing cookies and other website data. Click on "Remove All."
Stephen: at 13:44:16
 
If I remove all cookies, I will be logged out of the browser. I will then log back in.
Stephen: at 13:45:06
 
I really doubt this will work because I tried to change the CC on Firefox and Chrome and it failed -- I have no Skype cookies lingering around on those browswers.
Stephen: at 13:45:41
 
I am going to clear all cookies in Chrome because I have important cookies in Safari.
Alex D: at 13:46:05
 
Actually I understand, we are just doing this so we can tick off the basic stuff.
Alex D: at 13:46:15
 
Okay, Stephen
Stephen: at 13:46:50
 
The programmers should never be allowed to display such a general error. Soooo Microsoft of them. :-P
Stephen: at 13:47:08
 
Logged in… trying again.
Alex D: at 13:47:54
 
I understand, Stephen sorry about that. Even I get dumbfounded by this.
Alex D: at 13:48:00
 
thank you
Alex D: at 13:49:26
 
Stephen if you could please also - try another device.
Stephen: at 13:49:29
 
"An internal error occurred."
Stephen: at 13:50:14
 
Nah, I'm done trying. Have an account rep call me tomorrow between 9AM-12PM or 2PM-5PM eastern time. My phone numbers are 555-555-5555 or 555-555-5555.
Alex D: at 13:50:27
 
Alright, can you try another device like a smartphone or a computer?
Alex D: at 13:50:35
 
Oh okay, Stephen
Alex D: at 13:51:18
 
I could just wish you guys good luck Stephen. Please do not hestitate to contact us again,
Stephen: at 13:51:42
 
Ok, so the agent will call me tomorrow?
Alex D: at 13:53:54
 
Oh sorry.. I misunderstood what you said about when your friend Frank said someone could call you. We cannot do that, but fortunately we can update you through email.
Alex D: at 13:54:50
 
But if you have time, Stephen please do try on another device, alright?
Stephen: at 13:55:21
 
I just want to update my billing CC. I am not spending any more time on this.
Stephen: at 13:55:30
 
So there is no other way to change a CC?
Stephen: at 13:55:43
 
Frank is not my friend. He is a rep just like you.
Stephen: at 13:55:54
 
Update me through email? Update me on what?
Alex D: at 13:56:58
 
Update you on further steps on how we can resolve this "Internal Error", Stephen
Stephen: at 13:57:47
 
Is there no other way to update my CC info?
Alex D: at 13:58:07
 
No other way, apparently
Stephen: at 13:58:28
 
Great.
Stephen: at 13:58:53
 
I guess I have to let the subscription expire and then maybe I will have a workflow that is different and not broken.
Stephen: at 13:59:38
 
There is a log somewhere on your system or the 3rd party system that should have an error. My IP address is 555.555.555.555, they should be able to find my activity that way.
Stephen: at 13:59:54
 
Ok, I'll relent. I'll try one more time on my wife's laptop.
Alex D: at 14:00:22
 
Thank you very much, Stephen
Stephen: at 14:01:54
 
And someone over there needs to test the workflow of changing a CC to Visa/Bank of America. I'm 99% confident it's the 3rd party verification workflow that is broken.
Alex D: at 14:02:49
 
I will take note of that.
Stephen: at 14:04:48
 
"An internal error occurred."
Alex D: at 14:05:10
 
Hmm..
Stephen: at 14:05:54
 
The only way this would have anything to do with my browser or device is if it's relying on 3rd party cookies and my browser was blocking them. I am not blocking 3rd party cookies.
Alex D: at 14:06:17
 
Okay, Stephen
Stephen: at 14:06:24
 
So I guess I have to just let my subscription expire because Skype can't even bother to staff reps to receive or make calls to collect money.
Alex D: at 14:07:03
 
Alright,
Alex D: at 14:08:46
 
Stephen, seems like we do cannot resolve this right now.
Alex D: at 14:08:50
 
Sorry.
Alex D: at 14:09:16
 
But I will do email you in the future.
Stephen: at 14:10:10
 
Thanks for your help, but please tell your manager that not having someone available on the phone to run cards is really dumb.
Stephen: at 14:10:36
 
Skype makes it ridiculously hard to get any real help. It was incredibly tedious to even find this chat window.
Alex D: at 14:11:49
 
Thank you for your comments, Stephen. We do take note of these here.
Alex D: at 14:12:04
 
I may not have solved the problem today;  but thank you for bringing it to our attention. I will take a note of it and hopefully in the future we will have solutions to such problems.
Alex D: at 14:13:34
 
Bye, Stephen
info: at 14:13:36
 
Chat session has been terminated by the agent.
system: at 14:18:46
 
Chat already ended