Has Advanced Access jumped the shark?

fonzie-jumping-the-shark

I’ve had an Advanced Access website for 10 years and was very happy with it the first 5 or so, until the company was sold to Dominion. Since then, Customer Service is a disservice and the product continues to suffer.

They’ve had periodic outages almost every month, and this last week, they’ve announced several “down times” late at night to relocate their data center, but this weekend, the sites are out without explanation, we have no access to our “Virtual Office” to make needed updates and changes to our listings for our Open Houses on the weekend and no one is replying to emails and “Online Chat” is closed.

Most customers use their email forwarding service and that’s also been down for several days, with many of the customers unable to receive any emails at all and, to add insult to injury, no one is in the office and you can’t even call on the telephone and leave a message because the mailbox is FULL.

Obviously, their IT guys should have foreseen this and worked overtime or at least added some personnel to answer the phones on the weekend, but they didn’t. Calls and emails go unanswered and 1000′s of agents websites are unable to be edited and 1000′s more are unreachable via email.

I thought maybe I was the only disgruntled AA website owner, but I found pleny of other unhappy customers (soon to be ex-customers, I’m guessing.)

Advanced Access Sucks

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27 comments

  1. Kim Soper

    I am so upset about this. I have been trying to call since 10 am EST when their offices opened..I have been on hold for nearly an hour now….HA! I am sure they will never pick up! HELP!!!! What can we do…no site, no email and lost leads!

  2. Anna Bourland | Advanced Access

    Hello Marlow, above all, I want to apologize for the current issues you are experiencing as a client of Advanced Access. I understand that this is frustrating and appreciate your honesty.

    As we indicated in our email last week, we moved our data center to Norfolk, VA and are experiencing some issues as a result of the move. Our support center is fully staffed, but as you can imagine, we have a high call and email volume.

    Our IT team is also fully staffed, and has been in the office for several days, supported by IT staff at our corporate headquarters as well.

    All emails are being monitored, and chat is online during business hours and can be access here:

    http://messenger.providesupport.com/messenger/aasupport.html

    This email is being sent to all customers, and is the most recent update from us:

    Important Update from Advanced Access

    At the end of last week, Advanced Access made a significant upgrade to our systems. These upgrades include the relocation of our data center to a new multi-million dollar facility to increase speed, reliability, and space. The move is completed, however, it is resulting in some issues that have carried over from the process. We are working diligently to have everything fixed as soon as possible. Once these issues are resolved, this move will increase the overall performance of your website and other services provided by Advanced Access.

    We understand that access to your Advanced Access products and services is important, and we want to assure you that your satisfaction is our number one priority. We will be sending a detailed email once we are positive we have resolved these issues to answer any questions related to this move. We are currently experiencing a high call and email volume and are working hard to keep you updated as you contact us.

    Thank you for your patience as we continually strive to improve our service to you.

  3. Dave

    I’ve been having issues all week (and NATURALLY when things have finally picked up)….Lame excuses after waiting on phone for 10 – 15 minutes. No response via email. My email has been inaccesible for the better part of a week. I have been with them about 4 years with almost no probs but the last 6 weeks – VERY DISAPPOINTED – going elsewhere fast! Bend, Oregon Agent

  4. Marlow Harris

    Hi Anna,

    You have always done a great job being the public face for Advanced Access. You say all the right things, and for that, I respect you.

    However, it’s bad policy to not acknowledge the problems as they occur.

    Why not post a message on the front page of the Advanced Access website? I noticed that was up all weekend.

    Or if you didn’t want to answer phones, how about putting an outgoing message on your phone lines: “Gee, we are so sorry we’re screwing up your business, but we’re working as hard as we can to get the sites up-and-running!”

    Why didn’t you post something on the Advanced Access blog about this to let frustrated customers know that someone is hard at work on this issue?

    Or how about your Advanced Access page on Active Rain? You could have put some message up there.

    Or the president of the company could have personally went in and answered phones on the weekend.

    Anything, except the dead silence we all received over the weekend from AA.

    We would understand this from a small company, but AA is a large firm with 1000′s of customers.

    Instead of focusing on getting more and more agents to sign up for your services, why not concentrate on keeping the agents that you have and keeping them happy?

    That’s just my two cents.

  5. Dave

    Marlow:

    GREAT TWO CENTS!! That is the mantra I have been chanting ALL WEEK!. If you have issues then OWN them, don’t hide behind the curtain and pretend everything is all right. Because it IS NOT ALL RIGHT! I suggested that the at least, say something via email (have yet to receive the aforementioned AA email btw).

    We went through this with their blackout too and, the funny thing is, they were changing facilities then as well and one of the technicians told me (while it was going on) that once the move was done they would have the capability to enlarge our email space by 10x. Sure enough they did it BUT with an email telling me that it was done as an apology for the issues. Jeeeez don’t guild the lily! Just keep us in the loop and folks will be a lot less angry.

  6. Doug Parker

    Was told Friday afternoon that things would be fully operational by the end of the day. Received a note on Twitter this morning that our email was up and running…it wasn’t working at that time, although it later did briefly become available for a about 15 minutes.

    Tried to access the chat function noted above, to no avail….
    Submitted a message, anyway, including the following:
    “….have had numerous clients call to ask what the problems are. the cost of this extended outage is astronomical….”

    it’s more than difficult to understand AA’s inability or refusal to respond openly, let alone the company’s technical problems. makes you wonder whether they really know what their clients do for a living…

  7. Marlow Harris

    It’s about 2:30 PST, and I still cannot access my website to make needed updates and add new listings.

    I checked the Advanced Access website, and there is nothing on there about the outage, except an advertisement to entice new customers. (http://www.AdvancedAccess.com)

    I contacted their “online chat” and it was actually offline (http://www.advancedaccess.com/contact-us.html)

    I went to their blog, where they claim the sites are up, but as we know, they are not (http://www.advancedaccess.com/blog/)

    Why not put up a post like this:

    “We’re sorry. We’re messing up. We’re all working on it as hard as we can. We’re so sorry we didn’t answer the phones all weekend or respond to any of your emails. We will immediately hire someone to monitor emails and/or the phone on the weekend THE TIME WHEN MOST REAL ESTATE AGENT ARE AT WORK. We will never again make a move like this without having some sort of contingent back-up plan. Please don’t bad mouth us. We’ll give you all a month of free web-hosting if you just stay with us. It’s so much easier and cheaper to keep the clients we already have than to try to lure new clients in, especially with such poor public relations. Please forgive us!”

  8. Anna Bourland | Advanced Access

    Hello all,

    I want to speak to as many points here as possible; all valid, and all understandable. If I did not state it clearly enough before, we are indeed very sorry for all of the many frustrations and inconveniences caused by the aftermath of this change.

    The move is much different than our change to an off-site data center, as we are now able to take full advantage of the IT staff for Dominion Enterprises and the new data center that has been created for us; for you – our valued clients. This does not currently alleviate the issues you are experiencing, but I do want to make sure you have all the information about this change.

    I did indeed get updates on the blog, and will continue to update. I was also on Twitter all weekend checking in with people there. My apologies for not getting a post up on Active Rain; I will do so ASAP.

    I was away from my desk much of today as I volunteered to answer phones in Customer Support; many of us did this to make sure we could talk to you. This is exactly what needed to be done, and I am sure you expect nothing less than everyone getting on the phones. I wanted to share this since phone coverage was mentioned here.

    I updated the blog with email related information. There are many who use their AA provided email as their main contact email for us, so you may not have received the email when we sent it.

    Please note that the chat on our corporate website goes to sales, and it was offline on purpose. However, our support chat link is http://messenger.providesupport.com/messenger/aasupport.html and support is online during business hours.

    We are indeed responding as openly as possible. We have been trying to post something on our Advanced Access home page, however, our access to the site files is not online right now, as our site is last priority. It is online, but it is not editable at this time.

    Our phone system recordings that play while you are on hold are created and maintained through an outside vendor. The hold music and voice overs are not accessible to our staff.

    I will continue to update the blog (http://www.advancedaccess.com/blog) as I have new information to share.

    Again, I am truly sorry for the issues that remain from our move, and I can assure you that both the staff here and in Virginia are working to make everything 100% operational for you ASAP.

  9. Marlow Harris

    Anna, you are a great spokesperson for Advanced Access and I hope you get a raise after this!

    However, I think your company can learn some things from this outage to mitigate the damage and hard feelings that have ensued because of the silence and lack of transparency.

    It’s 7:17pm and your website and blog are offline. Perhaps you should have a 3rd site that you regularly update that is not hosted on your server.

    You should also get immediate control of your phone service so you can change the outgoing message in case of emergency such as this.

    I also suggest that you don’t go home at 5pm, just because it’s quitting time. Realtors don’t punch the clock and go home at 5 o’clock, your firm should respect that and make special consideration in this emergency situation.

    Also, you should consider having back-up help on the weekends when an emergency such as this occurs. Someone at Advanced Access must have know your email service was down, the Virtual Office was inaccesible, the Forums were offline and our photos and such were not visible in our Featured Homes section of our website and those problems should have been addressed in real time.

    Instead, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Advanced Access was completely inaccessible. Emails went unanswered, online chat was closed and your voice mailbox was full.

    This is not acceptable.

    If this was the first time this had happened, it would be cool, but this happens quite frequently. At least once a month, I cannot access my Virtual Office. Usually it’s just overnight or for a few hours, but it happens frequently enough to be annoying and it happens without notice.

    Fellow Realtors have advised me to change website providers for years, but I persevere with Advanced Access. It’s the path of least resistance. But I’m not sure I can continue to stay with AA after this latest outage.

    Thanks for continuing to hold things together and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that AA can still pull out of this intact.

  10. Marlow Harris

    Update: It’s 9:00am Tuesday morning.

    http://www.AdvancedAccess.com and their blog is offline.

    I tried Live Chat, and “No operator is available”.

    I’m still waiting for a response to the email I sent last Friday.

    My back-end Virtual Office remains inaccessible, so I am unable to make needed updates to the website.

    I am sad.

  11. Anna Bourland | Advanced Access

    Hello Marlow,

    I really appreciate your open dialog with me. We have had some internal issues with internet access; that made chat difficult to use this morning. Although chat is not on our servers, internet access is here. We were going to have someone go to a different location and login to chat, but we were online shortly after.

    I didn’t see the AA site down; are you still seeing it down? I know your post was from nearly three hours ago, but it hasn’t been down recently. I double checked at https://free.megaproxy.com/go/_mp_framed?www.advancedaccess.com and see it coming up. I just want to see if there is something else for IT to address with that once all client issues are resolved.

    Marlow, you can always call me directly if you have more questions. Our call volume remains high in the support center, and I’ll help in any way I can.

    Our email queue is also experiencing an influx that we are replying to as quickly as possible.

    I am in the email queue right now and will check on your email and keep replying to others.

    I want to make sure and tell you how much I and all of Advanced Access appreciates your business Marlow. We will rise to the challenge of making you a client for life. May we do it well.

  12. Marlow Harris

    5pm, AA sites are back up, but I am still unable to access my back virtual office to update my website and add my new listings. I has been inaccessible since Friday 4/17.

    Looking forward to updating my site! For those of use who update daily, this is a difficult situation.

  13. Anna Bourland | Advanced Access

    Hi Marlow, I haven’t seen an inability to get into the 3.0 VO universally. If you can’t get in currently, please contact us via live chat. It is online. You should be able to update your website as normal.

  14. Marlow Harris

    I just tried to go back in (9:27am PST) and I am still unable to load photos. I will email you and contact Live Chat. Thanks.

  15. Marlow Harris

    I just accessed Live Chat and received the following message:

    “There are no operators available at the moment. If you would like to leave a message, please type it in the input field below and click “Send” button”

  16. Marlow Harris

    I finally got through to customer service and spoke to Scott Salizar. He indicated that AA was still having server problems and that he couldn’t help with the photo downloading issue.

  17. Dave

    Marlow:
    Just a note to thank you for being the ombudsperson in this whole mess. Anna would do well to serve as a politician advocate as her answers, although not terse, never really addressed the REAL issue and that is accountability/transperacy It’s easy to say we are sorry about the problem but….

    HOWEVER, the only explanation I have gotten was via my (now accessible) then unaccessible AA email. What CONFOUNDS me is that I received all those “heads up” emails (via my alternate email) about “scheduled maintanance” but when all this hit the fan, they couldn’t take the time to send a “oh oh we have problems” email.

    I can’t tell you how many emails/messages that I have left with ZERO response. I for one, will be leaving AA in the very near future unless someone steps to the plate and takes ownership of this debacle.

    Once again, thanks for your efforts Marlow!

  18. Dave

    Marlow et al,:

    Just a FYI. I FINALLY got a terse message telling me that my account has been credited 1 month (no explanations about their issues). Not complaining so much about the 1 month free (which I had suggested in one of my many complaint emails/phone calls) but maybe a bit of humility – even a boilerplate message -? Oh well, hope everyone is back on track again! Let’s get back to selling some homes! Bend, Oregon market is showing some signs of life again. How about Seattle? Which is important to Bend as we are a “feeder” city.

  19. Marlow Harris

    Sunday April 26:

    Domain Manager still down in Virtual Office. Unable to add sub-domains, receiving the following message:

    ERROR!
    You have reached an error. We are aware of the problem and are currently working on fixing it. Please return to home page.