Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Complaint Letter to Yahoo

To whom it may concern,

This is in regards to trouble ticket # 4607540 | Yahoo ID: juanolator.

Today I am canceling my Yahoo Mail Plus service.

I am going to take the time to tell you exactly why. This is something I rarely do, as I have little faith that it makes any difference -- if a company really wants to provide good service and / or a product of value to their customers it seldom requires that letters like this be written in order for it to happen from the outset.

On Tuesday, December 12th I noticed that emails I sent through the Web interface were taking an unusual amount of time to be delivered to their recipients. "Unusually", at that time, meant 1-2 hours. We are talking about short, plain-text emails with no attachments, each sent to different recipients with accounts on different mail systems (thus strongly suggesting the problem was not on the receiving end)

I have been using the Internet for over 15 years. I have never heard of a lightweight email taking more than 3 minutes to be delivered. Still, the Yahoo technician I spoke to insisted that it was "normal" for an email to take up to 24 hours to be delivered. I told her how insultingly incorrect that was. Furthermore I told her that the problem only manifested itself when using the Web interface; that using the Yahoo SMTP server from Outlook did not result in any delays, and that thus the problem seemed to be localized not only to the Yahoo network but specifically the Web interface.

So much for trying to be helpful in solving my vendor's problems. She then directed me to submit my concern to which I thought was unusual since (a) this was not an abuse situation, and (b) she could have done it for me (she gave me a trouble ticket number -- it was already in her system, she wouldn't even have had to re-type a description, as I had to do). She also said they would get back to me within 24 hours. In my experience with ISPs and other online service providers, a mission-critical problem such as this is dealt with (or at least the customer is reassured that a human being is working on it) within 24 MINUTES, not hours.

24+ hours later (about 6:30pm Wednesday), I called in again as I had yet to receive anything beyond an automated reply and the problem had become exacerbated to the point where emails were taking 4-5 hours to be received. The person I spoke to gave me the same milquetoast, scripted responses I had received on Tuesday, except now said that I would receive a response within *48* hours of my having submitted it.

It is now over 48 hours since I first submitted a report of this system failure. Emails are simply not being received at all. The Yahoo customer service person I just spoke with not only asked me the same questions I had already answered twice in each of the preceding two days (she claimed the ticket record didn’t have much salient information), but then went on to say

Y: "Well, we need to report this to our engineers."
JM: "I reported it two days ago -- I sent email to as I was told."
Y: "No.. we need to do it internally, through our system here."
JM: "Why wasn't that done two days ago? Why wasn't that done yesterday? Why do you wait until the third time I call in with a showstopper of a problem to do that?"
Y: (unintelligible)
JM: "OK, when can I expect somebody to address this?"
Y: "Within 3-5 business days."

And so we must part ways. I like your interface; I think it is vastly superior to Gmail's (although I imagine they will leap-frog you soon enough). The Gmail service, however, allows me to send email. If it ever came to fail, the worst I could say is that I got what I was paying for.

Your service doesn't cost too much money ($25/yr I think it is). A user like me, who appreciates a useful tool, would probably gladly pay 2 or 3 times that if they got a service THAT ACTUALLY WORKED. Please try to remember that when you are selling your customer service operators’ headsets secondhand in order to pay your bankruptcy lawyers’ fees.


Juan Molinari

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: