With Yahoo… Just get over it!

By Charles Miller

It happens to me every year or so; it happened twice last year. Yahoo Mail overhauled their web site, removing some popular features, changing others, and since there is no way to call to complain to Yahoo’s management, it was I who heard the grievances from my clients. I have to admit that after listening to the same complaints day after day I got a little tired of it.

A lot of Yahoo Mail users have been complaining vociferously after the web site was drastically revamped in October. Gone was the popular “tabs” function replaced with a multi-tasking feature. Users soon started throwing questions my way.

“Why did they change things?” Because that is what Yahoo does. “Why can’t I change back to the old format?” Because you can’t. “There used to be an icon to switch back.” Not any more. “Can’t I set my computer’s clock back several months?” No!!! Get over it! When Yahoo or any of the other free email services change their web site, you had just better get used to the changes.

Lest anyone suggest I am being a bit callous I should quote from some leaked internal memoranda from Yahoo. In a memo to employees, Yahoo CIO Randy Roumillat and SVP of communications products Jeff Bonforte attempt to deal with the issue of only 25 percent of Yahoo employees complying with management directives to migrate internal company email from Outlook to the new Yahoo Mail. Let me put that another way; 75 percent of the people who draw their paycheck from Yahoo do not want to use their own product! Any sane management team should connect the dots here and get the message, but not at Yahoo.

Worse than that was a quote attributed to Jeff Bonforte, the person in charge of Yahoo Mail and all its communications products at an employee meeting on November 8. While acknowledging customer complaints and dissatisfaction, he dismissed them saying that Yahoo would need to “kick the users hard in the (blank) before they would leave Yahoo Mail. According to numerous witnesses the (blank) was allegedly a reference to certain male anatomy.

While there is no way to phone Yahoo, users are provided a forum on the “Tell us what you think about Yahoo Mail” page. Some 104,142 users did just that, voting to bring back the “tabs” feature deleted last October. Yahoo simply closed all the message board threads, ending the discussion.

If this look inside management at Yahoo is shocking to some, it should not be. The almost 300 million users of Yahoo Mail are not paying customers, and Yahoo’s motivations for providing free mail services are hardly charitable or philanthropic. They need those numbers of subscribers to justify prices they charge for advertising. Those hundreds of millions of non-paying yet loyal customers agree to let their emails be “scanned” so targeted ads can be placed in them. It is all about advertising revenue.

So here is your bottom line: Yahoo is in the business of selling advertising, and providing free email accounts is but a means to that end. They also understand that no matter how much users complain, it would take a swift kick in the (blank) to make most of them even consider changing to another email service.

Readers please note that while Yahoo is now in the eye of the storm created by the fiasco of the unpopular changes to the web site, it is not the only advertising company in the business of providing free email services. Users of AOL Mail, Hotmail, Gmail, Outlook.com, GMX Mail, HushMail, LePoste, Mail.ru, Gawab, Inbox, Zoho, or any of the many other free email services should be aware that at one time or another, this article could have been written about any of those companies. You get what you pay for.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044-415-101-8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.


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