Or why websites should not use an email address as an identity.
I guess it started somewhere in the middle of last year, our email system at work was migrated to Google mail and we all had our email addresses changed from Firstname.Lastname@faculty.monash.edu.au to Firstname.Lastname@monash.edu due to Google mail’s inability to have hierarchical addresses — or so we were told.
Anything addressed to the old location is redirected to the new, but we’ve been asked to make sure all our mailing list subscriptions etc are changed to use the preferred form.
Enter VMware and their support site.
For the past few years I’ve had an account on VMware’s site, you need it to access some of their support information and licenses and other stuff. I also receive the occasional email about products and such.
Late last week an email from VMware arrived, I realised it came addressed to the old address so I decided to simply change my address in my account on their website.
To login I go to https://www.vmware.com/accounts/, enter my old email address and password.
Once I’ve logged in I can update my account; I can do all sorts of things. I can change my name, I can change the company I work for, I can change my password, my address, my phone number, however…
Your email address cannot be updated online. If you need to change it, choose one of our Support contact options
So I tried the link, I puzzled through the options and eventually lodged a request1 asking them to quite simply:
Please change my email address to Fred.Flintstone@monash.edu
Not so hard you would think.
Then I got an auto-response asking me if I’d read through the support forums, uploaded all supporting log files, done this, done that, paid extra for premium support, you name it. Everything except a response to say they’d done what I asked.
Then I received an email telling me that For security reasons it was impossible for them to change my email address. Apparently I can change companies, change my address, do all of the above but the magic security fairy dust is sprinkled and my email address cannot be updated. They tell me to manually create a new account with the new address, then go through the whole process of getting the new account associated with the appropriate corporate codes and support agreements.
Thank you for contacting VMware Licensing Support.
My name is ########### and I have been assigned to work on your support request. The Support Request No. is #######.
I would like to inform you that you can go ahead and register another account with us with the new email address via the following link. https://www.vmware.com/account/customerRegistration.do ?
Once done, you need to contact the current PLA ######## to add you as a SLA to the contract# ###### in order to view the licenses in your account.
This is because the email address of an account cannot be changed due to security reasons.
What a joke. I suspect its nothing to do with their security and more to do with them using the email address as the account key. Too hard, no point wasting any more of my time, I decided I’ll just live with the emails going to the old address.
Then a day later another email, “have we resolved your issue?”
Um, no, and as I wrote:
No it is not resolved, but it would appear that your account management system is incapable of changing email addresses and you choose to hide this behind a bogus message about “security”.
Oh look, fireworks.
I got back from lunch and there are four missed calls on the phone, a voicemail message and an email saying “I tried to call you several times.”
Aside: Why do these support sites insist on telephoning, even if you state that the preferred contact is via email?
Later in the day they ring back and “we have changed your email address and would like to walk you through logging in.” Sounds odd to me, I know how to log in, if all they’ve done is change my address why do I need to login? Oh well, if it makes them happy. I tried to login with the new email address and the account’s password. Nope. VMware support tells me “oh the password is now “vmware”, try that.” Nope. VMware support tells me “ah, I have changed your password now and it is “vmware”, try that.” Success.
Did they change my email address? No, they created a new account for me! Then she asks me if I would like the old account deleted “for security reasons and so there is no confusion.” AAAARRRGGGGG! YES, delete it please! “We are unable to do that over the phone, you will have to reply to my earlier email requesting that we delete the old account”
This is getting ridiculous.
So I replied to the email, asking for the old account to be deleted. VMware support lady thanks me and tells me that she has received my email response and will allocate the request to delete my old account to the appropriate support team who will be in touch with me in the next 12 to 48 hours!
…and more ridiculous.
Sure enough, nearly 24 hours later here comes the next instalment:
Hello Fred, I wanted to follow up with you regarding your Support Request# #########. It seems that you want your old VMware account email@example.com to be deleted. After the initial analysis, I have determined that this issue needs further investigation. I will hence transfer this Support Request to the Tier-2 team. You will receive a callback / email within the next 48 business hours or sooner. We thank you for your patience and co-operation.
How many more hours is this going to take?
Moral: Some email addresses are set in stone in vendor websites.
- : On and on it goes:
My name is ######## and I am from the Customer Solutions Center team. This is a Tier 2 department to assist with your issue.
Your request to deactivate the email account ########## is in process. I will update you once it is completed.
- : …and finally
Your request to deactivate the email account firstname.lastname@example.org is completed, please let me know if I can close this support request.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
- : … or extra finally, to be sure to be sure.
Based on our last communication, the issue has been resolved and the SR can be closed. I will be closing your Support Request today.
- : Big joke. After all this stupidity I can still login to the original account with the original email address. I’ve no idea what happened to “Your request to deactivate the email account … ” that they so carefully processed and closed, but having experienced the dubious pleasures of VMware support I’ll just leave it at that.