Show Me the Love

Don’t I count for anything anymore? As I write this, I still haven’t gotten the “Love Bug,” the email worm that has made front-page headlines all over the world (even in Atlanta).

I was ready for it, too. My lovely bride of 22 years called from work bright and early Thursday morning to warn me about it. She also told of how one newly married hotshot programmer got a copy, accidentally looked at it, and wound up hosing the servers at his new bride’s employer. (I found that funny she didn’t.)

(If you’ve been inside a cave during the last week, the “Love Bug” virus is a worm program that comes as email with the subject “ILOVEYOU.” It includes a file attachment that, when opened, erases graphic and music files, then emails itself to everyone in your mail program’s address book. It’s very nasty. If you see it, erase it immediately.)

The likely reason why I haven’t gotten this bad love is that I changed Internet service providers (ISPs) recently. I dropped the service of two phone companies and picked up an Internet expert.

Some people who change service providers don’t want to be followed (and losing all that spam was a beautiful thing). But others do they’re moving and can’t get a local POP in their new home, or they’re just unhappy with their own provider. Many also change email addresses when they change jobs or leave school.

So here’s a great service that will make you lots of friends. Why not forward email free for a month after service ends? Why not have a standard “change of address” form people can fill out, one they can send to their address books? (Viruses know how to send to address books, so why can’t people do it?) While they’re at it, ISPs who forward these notes could also respond to the senders, telling them of the change. The Post Office does it why can’t we?

Of course, you do this with permission. (That’s why I suggested the sample form.) It’s a simple, polite, decent service, which won’t cost much, but will grow goodwill both for the firms doing it and the industry as a whole.

While we’re dreaming here, why is it that everyone who sells DSL or cable modem service doesn’t include firewall software in the bundle? The hardware now retails for just $200 (and prices always fall), and the papers are filled with stories of how vulnerable home-based broadband users are.

Here’s one more question. Why was it, when ISPs learned of this virus, they didn’t immediately send an email alert to all their customers, warning them not to open this file attachment?

My point here isn’t to dump on the ISP industry. I’m simply pointing out how far we all have to go along the road to excellent customer service. We all can take a lesson from leaders in the casualty insurance business, which send out claim adjusters right after tornadoes, even before the shock of loss wears off, then run ads about how responsive they are.

If your Internet providers are proactive, won’t you be more loyal to them? Take advantage of disaster.

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