Sunday, June 9, 2013

Yahoo! Stinks - Time To Leave

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I have used several Yahoo! email accounts and related functions over the past six years, with very little trouble and great success. But that's all gone now. Yahoo's "Classic" email has been forcibly eliminated, and their new (beta-tested on the public!) email has caused many people, including myself, horrible problems.  These are not just the "come-to-be-expected" problems with privacy, data mining, unsolicited marketing. These are truly mechanical and measurable problems interfering with critical functions and dependencies.

Before I outline these 'issues' please let Douglas E. Castle (that's me) the author of many an article and an expert at a shockingly large number of areas within the fields of business, communications and behavioral psychology suggest that you transfer your address books, contact coordinates, saved files, calenders and all information to another provider at your most immediate convenience. When you have finished doing this, delete all of your information from your Yahoo account prior to closing it; further, if you are using a Yahoo! email address as your principle communications medium, switch to another free or paid service now.

Some of the problems reported (especially during these past six months of changeover at Yahoo! Central, located - this is merely rumored - in an abandoned, rat-infested subway tunnel somewhere under New York City), include the following, a number of which I have experienced repeatedly myself:

  • Increasing volumes of spam;
  • Decrease in the speed of outbound email deliveries;
  • Loss in cyberspace of outbound mail deliveries;
  • Increasing number of inbound deliveries never arriving;
  • Increasing number of inbound email deliveries arriving as much as several hours after being sent!
  • So much advertising on the homepage and on the email page that it has become laborious to navigate;
  • Spoofing of my address to send emails to me;
  • No customer service problem-solving response to any queries or complaints;
  • Constant requests to change my password;
  • Increased system failures and downtime;
  • Increased incidence of hacking at the user and at the server (or ISP) level.
And I am certain there are more.

Here is a recent extract from a telling article by WebProNews author and pundit (or is it Guru?) Chris Crum, who writes exceedingly well, but who should consider changing his alliterative but less than serious-sounding name. It reminds me of Christmas for some reason.
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Yahoo Mail Classic is now dead. Yahoo Mail users, as of Monday, no longer have the option of using the old version, and must instead use the new version, which Yahoo reminds them, serves ads based on the content of their emails, much like Google’s Gmail has always done. As one might imagine, a lot of users are less than thrilled about this.

“Beginning the week of June 3, 2013, older versions of Yahoo! Mail (including Yahoo! Mail Classic) will no longer be available,” wrote Yahoo in its help center fairwell (via TechCrunch). “After that, you can access your Yahoo! Mail only if you upgrade to the new version. You should have received an email from Yahoo! letting you know that your account required an upgrade.”

 Yahoo noted that when you upgrade, you are accepting its Communications Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which includes the acceptance of “automated content scanning and analyzing of your communications content, which Yahoo! uses to deliver product features, relevant advertising, and abuse protection.”

“If you prefer to opt out of interest-based and contextual-based advertising resulting from your scanned and analyzed communications content, you can change your settings at any time using our Ad Interest Manager,” Yahoo said.

So, it’s even letting you opt out of ads, but that doesn’t mean they won’t scan your mail. You still have to accept Yahoo’s terms.

Those who don’t want to use the new Yahoo Mail were directed to download their mail using IMAP or close their account.

Yahoo’s mention of scanning email to serve ads comes as search partner Microsoft has been campaigning against Google for doing just that, despite the fact that Google has always done this, and has always been quite clear about it.

To many people this really isn’t a big deal. Gmail hasn’t had any shortage of users, and it’s not as though humans are reading users’ email to try and determine which ads to show. It’s all automated. Those who are concerned about this practice, however, could play right into Microsoft’s hands.

Suddenly the timing of Microsoft’s campaign seems a lot better from a marketing standpoint. It seemed odd that Microsoft would attack Google suddenly for something it had been doing for nearly a decade and made not efforts to hide. But now we have the previously announced Yahoo Mail redesign, which engages in similar practices as Google, being forced on users.

Could Microsoft users have made enough Yahoo users uneasy about this practice in general to get some of them to switch over to its own Outlook.com (the focal point of that particular “Scroogled” campaign)?

As Declan McCullagh at CNET points out, Yahoo actually adopted the policy that lets it scan emails and serve ads back in 2011. He writes:

It’s not clear why Yahoo felt the need to remind existing users of language in its 2011 terms of service. One possibility, though, is an effort to head off privacy lawsuits brought by class action lawyers hoping for a million-dollar jackpot. (If there’s ever any litigation, defense counsel would surely prefer to rely on informed consent rather than implied consent.)
It’s not merely a theoretical possibility: Google was sued in 2011 by a Massachusetts AOL user who sent e-mail to a Gmail account and then claimed her privacy was invaded. Near-identical lawsuits were filed in Marin County, Calif., (PDF) in June 2012, British Columbia (PDF) in October 2012, and Florida (PDF) in November 2012. On April 29, two college students filed yet another suit (PDF) seeking class action status in San Jose, Calif.

The shuttering of Yahoo Mail Classic also comes on the heels of a separate Yahoo Mail privacy-related story. Last week, a BT made some headlines when it said it would no longer make Yahoo Mail the default email service for its six million customers because of concerns that accounts are vulnerable to getting hacked.

Gerry Smith at The Huffington Post writes, “The shift of BT’s 6 million customers to another email service represents just a small fraction of Yahoo’s overall email customer base of about 280 million people worldwide. But the loss of clients could be a troubling sign for a company that relies heavily on maintaining its email users to generate advertising revenue. Yahoo is now the third-largest email provider after Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook.com.”
Meanwhile, the top dog, Gmail, continues to make efforts to stay ahead of the competitive curve. Last week, Google announced the launch of the new inbox for Gmail, which introduces a new tabbed organization interface.

Privacy concerns aren’t the only thing bothering users, however. Business Insider conducted a survey, finding that 57% of users are unhappy with the new Yahoo Mail. Nicholas Carlson lists a few of the specific complaints users shared:

“The mail message frame is not fixed. If you read a new message, and scroll down to the bottom and decide you don’t want to keep it, you can no longer access the delete button. Yes, obviously you can just close the email and then choose it again and delete, but that is a total waste of time and key strokes.”

“Yahoo disappears emails sent between legitimate and active Yahoo accounts.”

“I used Yahoo mail as a central box for most of my domain emails. After switching a couple of weeks ago and sending 30 test mails over three days to make sure it was all working, 6 never arrived. I even have specific filters set-up within Yahoo mail to make sure certain mails do not get put in the trash or spam by mistake.”

“It’s very laggy, and that pause of a second or two between commands makes it extremely frustrating.”

“The new version of Yahoo mail makes all my messages older than a week or so unreadable. I get “Error 45″ and the messages fail to load. There are numerous reports about this on the net; so far Yahoo hasn’t managed to fix it. So, I have to launch the classic version of Yahoo mail just to read old messages. Fail.”

“Right after the switch I was hacked and my contacts all 500 plus were gone without a trace.”

We’ve seen further complaints in the comments of our own coverage.

Users have had since December to get accustomed to the new Yahoo Mail. More on the redesign here.

Yahoo has been engaging in a lot of redesigns across its various properties. This week, Yahoo also rolled out a new look for its search results pages to go with its recently redesigned homepage. A big Flickr redesign was also recently launched.
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All I can say is remember the "rollout" of "New Coke," with its exciting new packaging and slightly changed and cheapened recipe? The damage control marketing campaign was "Classic Coke."

Thank you as always for reading me, and for sharing my articles with your colleagues, connections, co-conspirators, cohorts and concubines via your social media through the use of your ever-increasing arsenal of social media sharing tools. You are deeply appreciated.

Douglas E. Castle for The InfoSphere Business Alerts And Intelligence Blog, The Mad Marketing Tactics Blog and The Business And Project Planning And Management Blog.








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