Why can't Yahoo customer care simply do what their name suggests? A couple of days ago, I sent an e-mail to Yahoo customer care asking about whether it's possible for me, as a resident of The Netherlands, to subscribe to a small business web hosting package. All I really wanted to know was whether it's a U.S.-only service or not, because I had read in some affiliate FAQ on their site that the web hosting packages are U.S.-only, while their general terms of service don't mention this at all. I was expecting to get a short reply stating that either the FAQ was incorrect or that they have some reason to only offer these plans to people in the U.S. The answer is actually pretty simple but I just wanted to avoid confusion in the future.
So I sent an e-mail and, just to prevent them from asking me about some additional information before answering the question, I specifically used the designated question form on their website. So I enter what they want: my Yahoo ID and my name and enter the question. A day later, when I get the reply, it states (along with some politeness):
In order to review your account, please reply with the following information:
* Yahoo ID
* Date of Birth
* Any one of the following: [Zip Code, Alt Email Address, Street Address, or Phone Number]
Once we have this information, we'll be happy to investigate the matter that you have described.
Why do they need my date of birth in order to figure out if they sell web hosting packages to Europeans? I can understand that they might be afraid of telling an eight-year-old kid to buy their stuff, but isn't that covered by their general terms of service? Also, it can't be to check my Yahoo ID, because I've never provided my date of birth when signing up for it. The other questions are just as weird. They already have my Yahoo ID, in fact, the e-mail was sent to my Yahoo account.
After asking about this in a reply they ended up sending me a list of their current hosting packages, which was in fact outdated compared to their offering on the website. If Yahoo believes in social platforms so much (at least, that's how I interpret buying companies like Flickr and Del.icio.us), maybe they should start right at the actual point of contact with (potential) customers and have customer care drop the auto-generated replies.