Yahoo! security support sucks with a capital S

Yahoo! Security Support

Most of you know I rarely go out of my way to publicly voice such a negative opinion as I’m about to issue. Especially against a company for which: a) I hold stock, and b) I believe is one of the best large companies in Silicon Valley.

Today I signed up for Yahoo! Merchant Services for my father’s HeartsongStudios.com (a small time marimba making studio in Northern Cali). I’ve used Y!’s store system with partner sites at iofy, such as TheLanguageStop.com (a foreign language and ELT/ESL specialty store). I like Yahoo!’s store product and recommend it to others.

The signup process was a piece of cake. Zipped through the steps until the moment after my credit card was processed. At that point the added Security Key was requested. Since no security key had been initiated for the account, I was asked for information to generate a new one.

  • First question: “What is your name?” – duhhh…
  • Second question, “When is your birthday?” – better, but easily available on Facebook and elsewhere.
  • Third question: “What is your favorite city?” – I don’t remember, I’ll put in my hometown.

The third answer was wrong. I’ve had my Y! account almost as long as Y! has been in business. It’s probably a secret question I set a long time ago. Getting the third question wrong one time locked me out of merchant services and prompted to call Y!’s security team. Fine.

The wait time was minimal on the phone. As soon as a Y! human was on the line things went downhill. Here is an almost exact transcript of the conversation which took place. Names of people and places are replaced so you don’t get any ideas for h4c|<ing me, and so Y! doesn’t discipline the rep without learning more:

Mindy: “Hello, this is Mindy with Yahoo!’s security team, may I have your name?”
Me: “Sol Young.”
Mindy: “May I call you by your first name?”
Me: “Sure.”
Mindy: “How can I help you Sol?”
Me: “I was generating my security key and was locked out when I couldn’t answer my favorite city. Can we get it straightened out?”
Mindy: “Sure, what is your name?”
Me: “Sol Young.”
Mindy: “And when is your birthday?”
Me: “December 31st, 1976.”
Mindy: “And what is your favorite city?”
Me: “I don’t remember my favorite city. Can I prove my identity in some other way?”
Mindy: “No sir, you must answer the three questions in order to get your security key. Your name, your birthday, and your favorite city. Do you remember your favorite city?”
Me: “Bahrain?”
Mindy: “No.”
Me: “Jakarta? Cabo? Honolulu?”
Mindy: “No. No. No.”
Me: “Prague? London? Amsterdam? Montreal? New York? San Francisco? Portland?”
Mindy: “No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”
Me: “Bangladesh? Saint Petersburg? Miami? Bizmark? Copenhagen? Frankfurt? Kiev? New Orleans? La Quinta? Oklahoma City? Sacramento? Rotterdam? Lincoln? Mount Shasta? Juno? Plymouth? Jacksonville?”
Mindy: “No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”
Me: “I can tell you every detail of my personal preferences for every Yahoo! service. I could tell you about the series of photographs in my Flickr account which are labeled as private. I can give you my credit card numbers and more. Isn’t this a little ridiculous?”
Mindy: “No sir, we can not validate by those methods. If you would like we can escalate your request to the higher levels of our security team. They will be able to get back to you within 3 to 5 business days…”
Me: “Three to five days?”
Mindy: “Yes.”
Me: “That’s a long time. Yahoo! is an Internet company, what’s up with that?”
Mindy: “No, Yahoo! is not an Internet company.”
Me: “Sure it is. It’s one of the largest in Silicon Valley.”
Mindy: “Yahoo! is not an Internet company. I can escalate your request?”
Me: “Do I have a choice?”
Mindy: “Not unless you can remember your favorite city. Can I get your phone number and an email address which is not your Yahoo! email address?”
Me: “215-…-…., and yahoo {4t} solyoung.com.”
Mindy: “I’m going to need another email address which isn’t connected to your Yahoo! account.”
Me: “Ok, I didn’t realize that was connected to my Yahoo! account. You can use yahoo2 {4t} solyoung.com.”
Mindy: “Sir?…”
Me: “Sorry, yahoo3 {4t} solyoung.com, yahoo4 {4t} solyoung.com, yahoo5 {4t} solyoung.com. Any of those would be fine.”

I love Yahoo! as a company. You’ll hear me frequently talking them up with friends and collegues and I own Y! stock. Y!’s strength is in their agility and ingenuity. This kind of lousy experience is the kind of thing which brings a company to its knees. Every level of an organization must understand how they affect and provide for their customers.

6 thoughts on “Yahoo! security support sucks with a capital S

  1. EXACTLY what I experienced. A Nigerian Hacker got my account password, changed all pertinent information and sent a money distress request to EVERYONE in my address book. I could not log in to change the password because I could not answer the security question from the dawn of time when I set up the account. Yahoo has been ABSOLUTELY NO HELP, the auto response emails I have received verify they haven't even read the reports I've sent (several)…. and Mr. Nigeria is looking through my emails while I am completely locked out. I was a Yahoo fan until now….gmail here I come.

  2. omg!!!! that is what i'm going through right now with them. i've had my acct. for over 15yrs and i don't remember the information i gave when i signed up. i asked the same question. is there any other information that i can provide for you to prove that this is my acct. woooow. i'm glad to know it's not just me.

    lisa

  3. omg!!!! that is what i'm going through right now with them. i've had my acct. for over 15yrs and i don't remember the information i gave when i signed up. i asked the same question. is there any other information that i can provide for you to prove that this is my acct. woooow. i'm glad to know it's not just me.

    lisa

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