Roller Coaster

Technically, I am in-between jobs. As of Thursday, I am no longer a contractor, and as of tomorrow, I will be a full employee. And it’s about time.

But not without a thrillride, first.

See, on Tuesday, the manager responsible for my conversion got a call from Human Resources, and the message was to walk me out the door immediately. They got the results of my background check and did not like what they saw. That caught him by surprise, so he called my manager and told him the news. My manager threw the time-out signal. He remembered a conversation he and I (fortuitously) had in passing last week about how there’s another guy with my name in this state who’s apparently a criminal. So they immediately grabbed a conference room and phoned the HR staff again to discuss his conversation with me.

Shortly thereafter, he pulled me into the room for a chat, and HR agreed to have the background-check vendor send me a copy of the results. The determination that day was to keep me on as a contractor until a formal dispute could be launched and everything discovered once and for all.

So, Wednesday, that’s what I did. I reviewed the background check and found four notes regarding the criminal record of a man with my name, my exact birthdate, in Baxter county (where College Station is), who apparently has a major problem with drinking and driving and is currently serving the last of his 7 years in state prison for his third conviction. Coincidentally, he’s been in jail during the entirety of my time as a contractor. So I brought all this up to the HR rep, and he prompted me to call the vendor to begin the dispute process.

I explained to the vendor’s operator that I was not this guy, that I’ve had difficulties before with his name, birthdate, and felony record screwing me over, and that I have never been to Baxter county, so she took down some extra info like my driver license number and my biometric info (weight, height, eye color, hair color) and said she’d forward the info to the researchers for reevaluation. They’d let me know in three business days. After the call, it became a sit-and-wait game.

Luckily, they did their work quickly (because it really should’ve been a no-brainer) because they contacted me the next day to announce the other guy’s record has been expunged from mine, and that there’d be a note attached to my record (should they have to do another check on me in the future) stating what happened. I also got a call from HR telling me the head of security reexamined my case and gave me the green light to conversion, that the company apologizes for any potentially embarrassing (read legally-actionable) inconveniences, and that Monday would be my first day as a fully-badged employee with all the rights, duties, and responsibilities thereof.

And it’s about time.

I kinda feel like celebrating, but with the roller-coaster of this past week, I think I’ll hold off until I get my first paycheck. Just to be on the safe side.

Difficult Technicalities. Please Stand By.

screenshot of disabled site: Site temporarily unavailable

So, uh, this site suffered an unintended outage. I tried to access my journal last night to make an entry and got this. I was disturbed that I couldn’t use my site. So I went to the website control panel to see what the trouble was, and my login was rejected. Perturbed, I raised the alarms and sent an email to the support team at my host provider, Prohosting, asking to know why I could not use my website.

After that email, I checked my ancient email account at Juno to see if Prohosting sent me anything there like a technical notice of a planned service outage. I’ve had this Juno account since ’97 and I keep it around as my backup technical contact for both my website and my domain name registrations, should something happen with either. It can be said that I never, ever use my Juno account, so I typically log in once every, eh, six months just to clear out the Juno-sponsored spam.

What I found among all the nonsense was a string of automated emails from Prohosting’s billing department declaring that my credit card had been declined. Declined. The first of these messages was back in February, followed by notes stating that my account would be disabled in March, immediately proceeded by a handful of other automated messages reiterating the fact that my credit card had been declined by my bank and that the past-due amount was indeed rising. I was incensed.

I have had this particular credit card for a good year and a half. When I last got a new number, I dutifully updated the billing info. This card does not expire until next year, yet Prohosting’s support team said my card was declined due to my card being past its expiration date. Somewhere, someone screwed up; whether it was one of them or all of me, I still had a locked website and something had to be done.

The only thing to do was to send a second message to the support team, with a copy to the billing department, revealing the evidence gathered from my investigation. My hat was in my hand. As soon as I clicked “Send”, I went to the credit card update form, submitted the details, and hoped for the best.

Support unlocked my site intact by morning, and billing had charged the past due, dropping the penalty fees, to my updated card info. $108 dollars later, here we are.

My wish, my regret in this, is that in none of that time did Prohosting try alternate avenues to contact me. I have an administrative email address at this domain that I check regularly; I have the option to use this address in my profile as my technical and billing contact. But for the sake of safety, should something go wrong with my domain registration, my webhost’s email system, or (as in this case) billing, I would not be able to contact them for problem resolution. So that’s why I still keep my Juno account around. Just in case.

And there it is, the problem. The problem is one of neglect. Neglect on my part because I don’t regularly check my administrative accounts. Neglect on their part because any human operator would have seen the contact form on this site and attempted to alert me. I have been with Prohosting for over nine years, since I first started this website, and I think it is for that reason alone they let me slide for so long. I’ll hold that to their credit.