On Your Side: Skype Account Troubles

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I hadn't logged in to my Skype account for a few months, so I forgot the password. When I tried to reset the password, Skype said that there was no e-mail address associated with the account. To verify my identity, I told the company that I could be contacted at any other instant messaging or e-mail service under the same user name. The representatives told me that they couldn't verify my account with this information. I don't understand what the problem is. What else I can do?

Abraham Vegh, Philadelphia

OYS responds: According to a Skype customer service representative, Vegh originally registered his Skype account with an invalid e-mail address. The rep told us that the only way Skype could validate Vegh's identity and correct his e-mail address was via his purchase history. But since Vegh hadn't bought anything from the Skype store, the rep said Vegh would have to sign up for a new account and purchase a new online phone number.

To see whether entering the wrong e-mail address is an easy mistake to make, we signed up for a Skype account. After you download the Skype software, you are asked to enter your e-mail address. A note below the field says that "a valid e-mail is the only way to retrieve lost passwords." But the form has no secondary field to retype your e-mail address to ensure that you've entered it correctly. Skype also does not send an e-mail to your account for verification. We entered a bogus address, and Skype created our account; when we tried to change the password, we got the same message as Vegh did.

Our contact at Skype said that this issue doesn't happen frequently. We told her how simple it is to make an error, and we suggested that Skype should have some sort of e-mail verification. Skype is investigating the issue. In the meantime, Vegh will have to create a new account.

Web Host Won't Respond

Thomas Urso of Virginia contacted us after he was unable to get a hold of TotallyFreeWebsiteHosting.com. He had purchased a "Premier" Web site package, but had received no instructions on how to access his domain. TotallyFreeWebsiteHosting never replied to Urso's e-mail messages to customer support, nor to our multiple queries e-mailed to the same address. We could find no customer-support phone number on the site.

TotallyFreeWebsiteHosting.com is owned by Cheap Stuff, LLC. We left a number of voicemail messages with Cheap Stuff, using the number listed on its profile on the Better Business Bureau site (where it has an F rating). We also tried reaching a representative by using an e-mail address listed on one of Cheap Stuff's subsidiary sites, receiving no response. Shortly after our last attempted contact, however, the company got in touch with Urso directly and provided him with the information he needed to access his domain.

We recommend making sure that the online companies you do business with have some kind of contact information listed: a physical address, a telephone number, an e-mail address, and so on. In addition, look on other sites for customer evaluations of the company or service you're considering. If you encounter some user testimonials, do they seem authentic? Lastly, do a Google search for the company. From negative reviews to BBB ratings, you might be surprised by what you find.

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