Hanson Ultrastar
by H.notes Staff Writer mmm_marica@hanson.net

I have been a member of hanson.net since day 1. Or maybe day 2 – doesn’t matter. My membership number (when there were membership numbers) was 0000032 or something like that. I am still a member and I will continue to be – after all, I am pretty old to become such a die-hard fan of another band.

In these 7+ years of membership and three internet companies that managed the club (Ultrastar, Fanaxis and New Medio) I have a funny story to tell for each one of them.

This is my Ultrastar one. Hanson net 1.0. Please bear in mind that this was @2001, that I was on dial up and that we were automatically charged for membership every three months.

I wake up at 5am, my usual time. Coffee done, I hop on the ‘net. There is an email from Kimmy. There is a new forum on hanson.net. “Happy Birthday Taylor” – we should post something. OK, we post and then, while I am at it, I go and look at my hanson.net email, which I check once in a blue moon because I don’t use it.

Lo and behold! A message there with the subject “Hanson.net billing notice”. I click on it and to my greatest horror I read the following:

Your credit card was declined and we can not bill you.

To change your credit info, please go to [link] to update your information. Please enter your credit card information in the form there. If you do not enter valid credit card information within 72 hours, your password will be changed. If you do not want to transmit your credit card information over the internet, you may call 11-877-... And speak to a customer service representative.


NO WAY! I have never had my credit card declined. The sole reason for my hubby’s existence is to feed that beast.

My first thought was to run to the bedroom and wake up the hubby and scream at him, “Did you cancel my AMEX card or something??? IT GOT DECLINED ON HANSON.NET!!!!” But no matter how panic-stricken I am, I realise that his understanding for my Hanson craziness has limits.

Then I calm down and count to 10 – after all, they said 72 hours! I grab the credit card from my wallet and call the AMEX hotline. The sleepy lady (it’s 5:30 am, don’t forget!) looks me up after asking me 3 million dopey questions including my mom’s maiden name and the colour of my dog’s eyes. All is cool and there haven’t been any transactions, approved or declined in the past couple of days!

“You sure?”

“Yep!”

Oh my god. What’s going on?

I decide to re-key my card details on hanson.net I check the number I typed in 34 times and as I click the “Update information” button, I realise that I keyed my expiry date wrong. It should say 12/02 and I keyed in 02/02.

Of course, hanson.net which is slow as a snail for me, just ZAPS this transaction in a flash: “Your details have been updated, thankyouverymuch!”

Oh no!

I re-key the data again and submit again and it updates again. I hope all will be cool! Phew!

But two minutes later I start fretting. How would hanson.net know that all is cool and that I re-keyed my details and re-keyed them again and my card is OK?

I will email billing from my hanson.net account. I click on the email link and of course, this time around it’s so slow that it times me out! I can’t even get into my hanson.net email, let alone send a message and I can’t email from my normal account because I don’t know who to email too – that message of doom is in my hanson.net email that doesn’t work for me at the moment.

Wait! Maybe they disconnected me already? OH NO!!!!

I decide to call them all the way in the US (I live in Australia). I know that the toll free number doesn’t work outside the USA but I also know that Kimmy was changing her credit card details recently and she had to call them from Canada and… A couple of emails later - yeah!!! I have a NORMAL number. Phew!

The next 2 hours are spent trying to reach hanson.net billing. It answers, a recording plays, press this, press that, press 4 for billing and when I press 4, the phone rings a few times and then I get this recording: “All our operators are busy, please leave a message and we will call you back!”

Yeah right. They will call me back all the way in Australia!

8 am. I need to start getting ready for work. I take the fastest shower in human history, put some clothes on and run for the train station.

At work, I log onto the internet. It’s a big no-no to go on the internet for private purposes, but what’s losing my job compared to losing my membership on hanson.net?

I log onto hanson.net and after a few attempts, I manage to get into my hanson.net email. YAY! I am not cancelled yet! I send several messages to that address that sent me the warning about the declined card, but for some reason the messages don’t send. Or maybe they send but I get no indication whatsoever that they are sent.

As I am getting more frustrated with hanson.net, I am also getting more paranoid that they have disconnected me already. I am pleading in my mind:

“Please, please do not disconnect me, I am the biggest fan Hanson ever had, I will be good, I swear I will, I will make sure that I make my payments in advance! I vouch that with my life! IKEtually – I don’t need a life if I can’t be a member of hanson.net. I will do anything and I take back EVERYTHING bad I have ever said about hanson.net. I will never, ever, ever, NEVER say anything bad about hanson.net! Hanson? Psh! Who are they? I live for hanson.net! I live to pay this bill, please do not disconnect me, please…”

At the same time I am trying to reach that billing phone number. I can’t call internationally from work but I have a phone card, which was recently replaced because I lost it. I activated it on the net, so all cool.

So I dial the phone company number, key in a 765-digit pin and that hanson.net billing number and all I get is this metallic voice: “Invalid access number, invalid access number...”

I recollect from the panic attack described above and call the phone company. Tell them the story of my life, lost phone card, got replacement, I activated the new card on the internet, so what’s the problem, guys, I NEED TO MAKE THIS INTERNATIONAL CALL NOW OR BUST!!!!!

“Oh. We need to approve it.”

“Okay. Can you please approve?”

“Hold on.”

After what seemed like 7 years:

“OK approved. But will need ½ hour before it activates.”

Sigh.

I continue sending those emails to hanson.net billing that vanish into cyberspace – just to give myself an illusion that I am doing something constructive to solve this problem of catastrophic proportions. At the same time I dial the phone number, the pin and the hanson.net billing number every 3 minutes. I know, I know… that woman said ½ hour, but, you know, it can be 20 minutes, maybe even 15… Who knows? But I still get: ”Invalid access number, invalid access number...”

Then… BINGO!!! Rrring, rrring! Get hanson.net billing, recording, press all those choices without listening because I learned all that by heart. I dialled 65234166 times this morning from home.

Rrring, rrring again, while I pray silently: “Please phone God, do not give that ‘All our operators are busy’ message, please, please, please!”

“Hello?”

I guessed in flash that that’s a home based lady that does this after hours.

“HIIIIII!!!! How are you????” Man, am I beaming or what!

“How may I help you?” You can hear birds singing and flowers blooming and a little waterfall purling in the background, she is THAT helpful!

“IAMCALLINGFROMSYDNEYAUSTRALIAPLEASEDONOTPUTMEONHOLD!!!!”

I think I scared the living daylights out of her because she started stuttering. Blah, blah, blah the story of my life again…

She found me by my last name:

“What is this X doing here?” – that’s her.

“Huh?” – that’s me.

“There is a little x at the end of your first name. It probably couldn’t match you…” she is chirping in the phone again.

“Huh???” – that’s me again.

“Okay. I fixed it. The transaction was approved. I am sorry for this. Thanks! Bye!”

“But…”

“No, no, no, no, all is okay now, you will have no problems anymore. Bye!

“But, but what do you mean…”

“No – all is okay now! Thanks! Bye!”

SLAM!

After excruciating ½ hour I called the AMEX hotline to see if I had been billed in the last ½ hour. I will not go into gory detail of being put on hold, listening to cheesy bar lounge piano music and putting up with crap that my card was reported lost. Yes, it was lost a year ago and you guys issued me a new one, and I even went to America with this card and all was cool, happily paid everything, Hanson concert tickets, Seattle and Vancouver, met them, took photos with them, they are really awes...

“Yes, there was a billing to 20.85 US dollars today!”

“Thank you.”

Life is wonderful again.

Hanson July 07