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Fake Steve Jobs? Meet The Real Fake Jane Wells

Friday, 20 Jul 2007 | 9:28 AM ET

With all the talk about the “Fake Steve Jobs” at www.fakesteve.blogspot.com, (including on this blog), followed by the "Fake Gene Munster," the Piper Jaffray analyst who covers Apple, at www.fakegene.blogspot.com(Jim Goldman alerted us to this one yesterday), it seems to me all the attention goes to the fakes.

CNBC.com photo composite

So…what if there was a “Fake Jane”? I mean, I’m kinda fake already, but what about someone pretending to be me--an evil, bitter, insecure version of me? Ok. Me. Here’s today’s entry for “Fakejane”:

Got in this morning. Julia Boorstin already here. Again, Always in early, working the phones, schmoozing contacts, trying to “break news.” She’s young, smart, gorgeous, nice, went to Princeton. Man, I hate her.

Just got my assignment for the day: cover some company I’ve never heard of because Huckman is out sick. I mean, who cares about a company called Pfizer? How do you even say it?

The five stories I pitched were ignored. They just don’t get it back there in New York. They laughed at my passionate plea to cover a highly promotable story in Malibu that our viewers would love: a company teaching yoga to dogs. I mean, come on! Ka-ching! No, instead I have to cover some stupid boring stock, getting my marching orders from some guy who doesn’t know the difference between a put and a call.

Another network calls asking me for a resume. Again. My resume? HELLO! TURN ON THE TV PEOPLE!

Ok, time to get ready to go on air. Come on, Jane. Think good thoughts! Get that smile going. Sell it, baby! You aren’t getting any younger, you gotta win ’em over with personality! BIG SMILE! Good girl…

OK, NOW FOR THE NIGHTMARE PART
In today’s installment of Funny Business--that isn’t funny in the ha-ha way--we’re talking hellish customer service. Andy Barnett lives in a remote area of Northern California in Humboldt County. For those of you unfamiliar with that region, it’s probably best known for its wonderful old growth forests and thriving underground marijuana industry. Andy is a musician and author (ok, blatant plug, he wrote “Compose Yourself”).

Since he lives out in the boonies, he signed up with WildBlue.net to get high-speed internet service via satellite. For much of rural America, Wildblue is really the only way to get broadband. Barnett signed up in May of 2006, and the equipment was guaranteed for a year. Eleven months in, it died. Thus began one of the most mind-numbing attempts to get repairs that I have ever heard. He’s made repeated calls to the company only to learn that the piece of equipment he needs is no longer in stock. A company rep told him over the phone they’re completely out.

Yet they continue to charge him for monthly servic THAT HE NO LONGER HAS. And, according to Barnett, during this time WildBlue sales reps continued to tell prospective customers they could get service within a few weeks, even though the company allegedly didn’t have the necessary equipment.

Barnett writes:
This whole thing has been my only direct dealing with the corporate world in a long time. It sure is an eye opener. Is it standard for two levels of supervisors to direct floor workers to mislead customers so they can keep their "customer request" numbers up? Is "Corporate" telling them to do this to keep their projections up so they can get the financing to shore up a crumbled supply chain?

He then tried to blame some of it on Dick Cheney, but I won’t go there (I’ve known Andy for almost 20 years). Over the last couple of weeks Barnett has talked to at least a half dozen people at the company or its suppliers, trying to get his money back for lack of service (the guy helping him do that had “left the company” by the next phone call). And Barnett is still trying to get the necessary repairs so he can get back up to high-speed internet access.

Is anyone else having this trouble? I have reached out to the company to find out what the problem is and am waiting to hear back. But I'm a reporter at a business network and I MIGHT get answers. What matters more is that a customer is NOT getting answers, that he continues to be charged for service he's not receiving, no matter how much tries to beg, threaten, or cajole his way into a refund.

The latest update from Barnett came this week, saying he'd been told the equipment had finally come in and a repairman would arrive Wednesday: “Well, Randy--the repair guy based 90 miles north and a gent I am not allowed to contact directly--never showed yesterday.”

And now he can’t get anyone to answer the phone.

Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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