Mail.com redux

So I got something approaching a proper reply from mail.com. (If

you don’t know what I’m talking about, I wrote about it in January,

but suffice to say that they promised me a free-for-life email forwarding

service, and then told me they were charging for it.) Here it is in

full, with annotations:

Dear Felix,

This is already a huge improvement on anything I’ve received from

them in the past: my very first email from mail.com personally addressed

to me!

Thank you for contacting Mail.com regarding our email forwarding

feature.

Recently, Mail.com initiated a new policy which reclassified

the

forwarding service as a premium feature. Therefore, effective the

date

referenced in our original notice to users, all currently existing

users

of the free email service must now subscribe to this premium forwarding

feature if they would like to continue to have their email forwarded

to

an email account outside the Mail.com network.

Well, they certainly understand the problem.

In accordance with the User

Agreement(http://mymail.mail.com/templates/common/us/agreement.htm),

it

is our position that this change in service terms does not have any

impact whatsoever on the original promise of a free, permanent email

address made by Mail.com, Inc., and that any and all claims that attempt

to extend the notion of a free email account to a free forwarding

service are misguided.

My, what a long sentence! Smells like it was drafted by a lawyer

to me.

What they don’t mention is that I never consented to the User Agreement.

I signed up with iname before it merged with mail.com, and as far

as I know I never had to click through any legalese at all. (The internet

was far more innocent then.)

The idea that "any and all claims that attempt to extend the

notion of a free email account to a free forwarding service are misguided"

is hilarious; even the idea that I’m attempting to extend anything

is pretty laughable. When I signed up for the iname service, a free

email account and a free forwarding service were coterminous. There

WAS nothing else: web-based email systems had not yet arrived on the

scene. The irony here is that it’s mail.com doing the extending: it’s

their attempt to extend the notion of a free email account to a free

way of accessing one’s email over the web which is misguided. I know

that internet newbies these days tend not to understand that there’s

a lot more to the internet than the web, but mail.com is surely no

internet newbie. What use, for instance, would mail.com’s service

be to my sister when she moves to Antarctica later this year? She

will have email access, but no web access. And what about blind people

who find it a lot easier to read emails than web pages?

Rest assured, your email account in and of itself

remains a free, permanent account. As you know, Mail.com’s business

is

based on an advertising network; that is, the more users we have that

regularly login to their accounts from the home page, the more valuable

advertising space on our site becomes. We therefore value all of our

users, whether they are free account holders or premium users. Given

current market conditions, we have determined that making the forwarding

service a pay service is essential to the continued existence of the

Mail.com service. We believe this change will help ensure that we

can

continue to bring you the benefits of a free basic email account now

and

in the foreseeable future.

Sincerely,

Mike Anderson

Mail.com

Wow, breaking their promise to their clients is essential to their

continued existence? I’d better change my email address anyway: I

don’t hold out much hope for their continued existence in that case.

Given the challenge of increasing the number of people using their

email service, they chose to do so not by making it better but by

making it worse.

Both Microsoft and Yahoo have wildly popular free web-based email

systems. Mail.com had two edges over them: it had a large range of

domain names to choose from, and it offered free email forwarding.

Now it only has one edge. They’ve given up a huge advantage: a lot

of people, like me, hate web-based email. We consider it slow and

clunky with insufficient functionality; you can’t even store all your

old emails. There are lots of very good email clients out there, and

a lot of them are free. Why give all that up and migrate to a web-based

email system? Someone isn’t thinking straight here, and I’m pretty

sure it’s mail.com.

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1 Response to Mail.com redux

  1. Hello, respond, to SUNBUMPING@YAHOO.COM—why? BECAUSE MAIL.COM BLOWS! Attempting use even semi-frequently in the past year, IT TAKES HOURS to complete just about ANY TASK. I considered the idea of threat for their now “suddenly ‘premium’ mail forwarding feature” but contact info is also “suddenly unattainable” and no mail would ever even be received from their own “OUTBLAZE/ FAILURE” mail systems. A potentially effective threat may be to write their advertisers— they are receiving poor publicity at a site I would guess will only become more and more unpopular.

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