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  1. timmus says:

    Well, on one hand, you get what you pay for.

    • homerjay says:

      @timmus: I think in this case that’s pretty much the only hand. Still- fee based customer support can probably be justified.

    • sleze69 says:

      @timmus: /agree.

      I pay $8/month for my own website with its own email addresses, 250 GB of storage and virtually unlimited bandwidth. Not bad for having total control of my internet existence.

      The only thing the gmail has that pretty much trumps all other webmail clients is the interface. It is pretty sweet. Still, now that I have roundcube installed, there’s not much that I am missing.

      @Mr_Human: I’m with you on that. I keep 10 days worth of emails online before I expire them but they ALL get downloaded to my home client (thunderbird).

      • equazcion says:

        @sleze69: Absolutely. I don’t think people realize just how close to free you can get with real services these days. Plus, your 8 bucks a month gets you some semblance of customer service too, I’m sure.

    • Aladdyn says:

      @timmus: true, but keep in mind that Google IS getting paid for having you as a Gmail client, just not by you directly. They make money by having X number of people to display ads to through g-mail.

    • TVarmy says:

      @timmus: I’d probably be willing to pay a little bit for phone support with Google when I needed it. Say, a quarter to a dollar per call, with a full to partial refund if the problem is found to be entirely Google’s fault.

    • tasselhoff76 says:

      @timmus: I am really disappointed with folks on this site not getting it. Google makes money from offering these free services. Google is really good at making money on “free” things. Their end game is to make Google the portal of choice when the world becomes more online computing and all your data is stored in the cloud. Microsoft is striving for this very goal as well. Google is not offering these services out of the kindness of their hearts or because they are some benevolent corporation. They want a user base to show to potential advertisers.

      • Grive says:

        @tasselhoff76: Actually, it’s not that people don’t “get it”. It’s that it’s irrelevant.

        You’re getting something for free. Period.

        If they manage to make monies, good. But that’s well beyond any actual relevance to the end-user (privacy issues notwithstanding).

        Thus, “you get what you pay for”.

        Tell me, would you complain about the quality of one of those branded trinkets Coca-cola might be giving away? It’s the same situation.

  2. U-235 says:

    Well, if you have no backup email account AND you don’t provide a security question how are they supposed to know its you? You can’t prove you are the rightful owner without letting Google fish through your personal emails. Given they provide email for free, I don’t think you can justify that level of support when you pay them nothing. I suppose you could if you shelled out the $50 for ‘Google Apps Premiere Edition’…

    • lol_wut says:

      @undefined:

      People assume that because it is Google, they will be safe. What they often fail to realize is that the more popular a service is, the more prone to attack it will be. Unless you’ve got it in writing that all your info is safe and 100% devoid of any chance it would be compromised, I would not bank on any one provider for all of your e-mail. I still have a backup Hotmail account, and I can easily create an account on my Blackberry if something were to happen with my Google Apps Account.

    • roguemarvel says:

      @U-235: Microsoft will fish threw your email to verify its yours. Several months back I had issue with my xbox live account which I could only fix going threw the email/MSN account I signed up with, which was a hotmail account I had touched in over two years. I could not remember the password, the secret question wasn’t working, it wasn’t liked to any other emails and no one could help me over the phone. I had to send multiple emails before the finally sent me a link to there super secure account verification page (I say that since only a CSR can send you there). I had to answer about 20 personal questions including email addresses in my address book and subject message titles. It was a huge pain in the ass.

  3. Mr_Human says:

    I’m old school: I access my email using a local client: that old dowager, Eudora. Sure, I still have a gmail account, and when I’m on the road I’ll use it to check my email. But when I’m back home, that email goes back on my computer. I got emails going back to ’94!

    • wee0x1B says:

      @Mr_Human:

      I’m with you, but I go even more old-school: I ssh into my mail provider and use a text-based client (pine) to read my mail. No need to worry about phishers, malformed/trojaned attachments, bad links, etc. It’s lightning-fast and the UI isn’t too hard to learn.

      I carry a smallish USB thumbdrive wherever I go. It had Damn Small Linux on it. If I’m without my laptop, I can politely ask to use a computer that is handy. Stick in the USB drive, reboot, log into that new linux install, check mail and browse the web. when done, reboot and pull the key. The PC is back to its old ways. Make the USB key read only, and you can log into PCs riddled with viruses. You get a fresh, clean, new OS every time.

  4. ShadowFalls says:

    It is pretty to simple on a majority basis to know whose account is whose. Since I am sure they have at least somewhat of a login system log, they should be able to identify by ip address, the location of the person who accessed it for the majority of its history. And we all know how Google loves to retain data.

    • RedOrDead says:

      @ShadowFalls: How would you be able to tell the difference between the actual account holder or someone else using the same IP Address? Depending on where you check your e-mail, the person trying to recover your account could be anyone from a roommate/family member to someone else who happens to use the same Panera Bread or college computer lab.

    • johnnya2 says:

      @ShadowFalls: I’s also say an ex could easily call Google and say it is them and they want access, and then all kids of issues can come up. Heres an idea. REMEMBER YOUR STUFF. If you can’t don’t use a FREE service. People want everything for nothing.

  5. Nofsdad says:

    I have Yahoo Plus, for which I pay $29.95 a year and access that with Thunderbird. The technical support for Yahoo Plus isn’t a lot better than it was for the free Gmail but at least I can get an answer if I rant long and loud enough.

    I tried Gmail for over a year and couldn’t get any help with the problems I was having and got tired of having to try to build a set of filters that would keep the number of unsolicited or unwanted emails reaching my inbox down to a mere 10-20 a day without SOME guidance from Google.

    But I also realized that as someone said above, that I was getting exactly what I was paying for and it was worth what I was paying for it. If Google… or any other free service doesn’t cut it for you… well, sittiing around complaining because something you get for nothing isn’t up to your standards may not be a viable answer.

  6. b612markt says:

    I created a yahoo email address and associated it with my Gmail today – so glad I saw this article!

  7. post_break says:

    Stealing your gmail account is really simple. It’s scary how easy it is to do, trust me, I have done it before. In the right situation I can get your gmail account in around 1 minute if you check your email a lot and you happen to be in my presence.

  8. erikw says:

    I disagree with this article. My ex girlfriend’s Gmail was compromised not too long ago, her password was too easy to guess or crack.

    I used Google’s account recovery form, which asked a lot of specific information (example, what date did you open your account, who are five people you e-mailed recently?). We didn’t know the answer to many of these questions but we put in as much as we could possibly remember. Google was extremely prompt and probably within 30 minutes they sent us an e-mail resetting the password. I was really impressed, I thought there was no hope.

    • Ron-Mexico says:

      @erikw: Same here. One of my secondary email accounts was hacked (very coveted address since I was in the first round of public invites as an advertiser) and I had a relatively easy time getting access to the account back. I simply filled out the proper forms and they took care of it.

      That being said, Google does need to do a better job of not being such a faceless entity. Even as an advertiser pouring quite a bit of money into them, they feel sort of cold and inaccessible at times.

  9. Heresy Of Truth says:

    If you are like me, your SOL because you can’t associate your work email account with your every day one if you go through google for both.

  10. Wayfaerer says:

    I’ve had one issue with gmail. Tried to log in and got a code error that wouldn’t let me access my account. Others were having no problems. I filled out the online support form and they had my account fixed the same day.

  11. phil28 says:

    I’m a technology columnist for a newspaper and ran into problems with my GMail that was going to be part of a future column. I was unable to get anyone to respond including their PR department. I bumped into Marissa Myers, one of their top executives, at a conference and asked her for help. She took my card and said she’d have someone get back to me right away. I never heard from anyone.

  12. Pylon83 says:

    I’m a heavy Gmail user, yet I simply cannot understand where people get off complaining about a lack of customer service/support for a FREE service. You don’t pay a single dime to Google for the use of the product. On top of that, it’s one of the best out there, frequently updated and improved, and has POP and IMAP access (unlike Hotmail/Live Mail). If I were Google, I wouldn’t care what people thought about the lack of customer service or support. How can they be expected to pay people to sit around and take calls regarding a FREE service? Even fee-based support would be a risk and a hassle to setup. If you want to have top-notch customer service, or need 100% uptime all the time, perhaps it’s time to PAY for your email access.

    • LiC says:

      @Pylon83: Agreed. Hell, I see Google’s side of it too. You know how many people would be calling their support line with stupid questions? They’ve got millions and millions of users, email support’s gotta be a bitch as it is.

      • Pylon83 says:

        @LiC:
        Indeed. I’ve done internet tech support before, and the number of morons that need their hands held to compose an email FAR outnumbered the people with actual problems. Tech support becomes a tech training, and customer service is the number people call when they can’t get through to tech support.

    • DangerousLiberal says:

      @Pylon83: Hey, besides, isn’t gmail still in Beta? Or is the product name really Gmailbeta?

    • tasselhoff76 says:

      @Pylon83: Probably because it’s not FREE. It’s a money making venture for Google and I don’t know if you know this, but they make an awful lot of money every year on every user they have of their “free” services.

  13. dantsea says:

    Internet 101: If the service is free, you’re not the customer in that transaction.

  14. yggdriedi says:

    Google’s customer service is horrible. I had a Google homepage (“iGoogle”), until they completely redesigned it, killed the usability of several widgets, and overall made it horrible. The reason? “Your account has been selected to participate in a beta test!” Yep, that’s right, Google forces its customers to guinea pig in beta tests without their permission. The best part was trying to opt-out and restore your account to normal: you couldn’t. Seriously, there was no way to revert to the normal functionality. And this went on for at least three months!

    So I gave up and switched to a (much better, by the way) Yahoo homepage.

    Apparently Google has since given up on the beta, but they already managed to kill pretty much any loyalty I had to their brand.

    • Pylon83 says:

      @yggdriedi:
      See the post above yours. You do not pay Google anything, thus you are not a customer. You did exactly what you should have, switched services. Don’t like what Google has to offer? Great, go find something else, but don’t complain about changes to a service you don’t pay for.

      • DangerousLiberal says:

        @Pylon83: Is there anything in the TOS agreement that would deny Google the “right” to make you a beta tester?

        Just be glad you were a randomly selected beta tester. With M$FT products, everyone is a beta tester, and you paid for it!

    • _NARC_ says:

      @yggdriedi: The Google homepage switch was indeed terrible. Now, I know that it was in Beta, and that it’s free so you get what you get.

      But it was very disappointing to go from something that was a very good design with awesome functionality to a new product that is much worse.

  15. equazcion says:

    “If your Google account is comprised…” Comprised of what?

    On another note: If safely using Google’s services requires all this local client activity anyway, the easiest thing to do would be to simply ditch Google altogether in favor of traditional local software and a regular email account. What good are remote apps when you end up storing everything locally anyway?

  16. Quatre707 says:

    The premier Google apps service, which includes advanced gmail has excellent customer service. Free gmail accounts have no customer service, it says so when you sign up.
    “Terrible” is the wrong word, it should be “No customer service for free”, and when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound bad at all, because it makes sense.

    • tasselhoff76 says:

      @Quatre707: But it’s not free. If they made no money on offering these services, they wouldn’t offer them. Make no mistake, Google makes money on these “free” services.

  17. Difdi says:

    So, whatever happened to Don’t Be Evil? The OP’s experience sounds fairly evil to me…

    [en.wikipedia.org]

    • equazcion says:

      @Difdi: From that Wikipedia article: “In 2006, when Google declared their self-censorship move into China, their “Don’t be evil” motto was somewhat replaced with an “evil scale” balancing systems allowing smaller evils for a greater good, as explained by CEO Eric Schmidt at the time.”

      Everyone is naive and idealistic in their youth, hoping to change the world using the power of Good. Once they gain some success, the dark side simply becomes too alluring.

  18. BigBoat says:

    The trick is to make friends with people at Google.

  19. ARPRINCE says:

    Does YAHOO fare any better? My account there was hacked and I have been using that for years and I totally lost everything. *sigh*

  20. They don’t even offer real support to people who run their AdSense program (believe me, I learned this lesson) – and that involves a contract and the exchange of money. Is anyone surprised Gmail doesn’t have support, either?

    Even if it were a pay service, Google’s response would be the same.

  21. concordiaSucks says:

    Customer service for a free service that allows us to transfer 20 megs of a single file through an email UDP packet?
    Is there any other email service out there that is better than gmail?
    Please share, so I can cry about gmail not having a telephone customer service.

  22. quirkyrachel says:

    Hmm, I had a problem with one of my accounts getting hacked and Gmail fixed and responded to it about half a day after I emailed them.

  23. aztalon says:

    Again, I bring up my question about this in regards to the G1/Android platform. Where you are required to have a Gmail account, what happens when a person is having issues with the account and are locked out of the contacts, e-mail, calendar?

  24. MikeB says:

    I had an issue last October with my account. Somehow my password got changed and I lost access to my account. And, idiotically I had not setup a secondary email account so was unable to get an email. I completely understand that support for a free service is going to be spotty and that it was my fault to not have a secondary email account but the recovery process was horrible.

    My main issue with the process was the fact that I was not going to be prompted with my “security” question until 5 days had passed since my last attempt at logging in. After 5 days, when I tried to log in I would be prompted with the question and upon answering it be given back access to my account. Now, the issue with this is, what happens if someone was in my account? Then I would never be prompted. They need to make the process easier. Fine, don’t give me phone support for a free service but at least prompt me with my security question sooner than 5 days after my last logon attempt.

    Now, after saying that, with Google offering many different services that can be tied to your gmail account, i.e. Blogger, Picasa, Checkout, etc, they need to make the process much faster. I would gladly pay a yearly fee for better support and security on my account.

  25. waybaker says:

    I work for a Data Forensics company. A client was subpoena’d for their emails in their gmail account.

    We were contracted to provide this documentation. The contract stated we were to provide the account in a PST file format. No problem right? We tried IMAP and POP3.. both returned invalid credentials for the login information, but could login just fine on the website. We double checked every setting, both in GMail and in Outlook. No dice. We found that a process called Unlocking via Captcha often resolves the issue, but it would not accept the credentials either.

    I emailed Google about it 3 weeks ago, and still have not heard back.

    • equazcion says:

      @waybaker: They should probably subpoena Google directly to hand over the data. No reason a technical limitation like this should stop a lawyer. I’m sure suggesting that yourself would be tantamount to admitting failure in the eyes of your employer/client, but still it is probably what should be (should have been) done.

  26. newyorkcity says:

    Last time i checked, you never get customer service for a product you receive for FREE. But then again, I guess since Google is a tech giant that we have to hold them up to a certain social responsibility. But it is a fact that google makes very little money off of the email part of its business. So for them to actually invest in a customer service department, it would be pointless and actually cost them. So I understand where they are coming from.

    But then thinking about losing my gmail account… I would lose my mind!!

  27. Mp3dog says:

    As a safety measure, I have my gmail account set up to forward everything to a yahoo account that I use solely for backup. Also, I have TWO other email addresses associated with my gmail account.

  28. HarcourtArmstrong says:

    Remember, Gmail is beta software and not intended for mission critical work.

  29. SigmundAnaxibia says:

    My gmail account was hacked into about a year ago. I was locked out of the account and they changed all the answers to my questions as well as my password. By following gmail’s steps on getting my email back, I had it within 3 days. I was actually really impressed with how quickly they resolved the situation and kept me updated on each step.

  30. OsbornOrthrus says:
  31. TateDeeson says:

    Why would Google store your User ID and password in a cookie? It’s ridiculously insecure. Plus, the login page is under https.

  32. ConroyNovellus says:

    Um, terrible customer service is the hallmark of ANY free Google service. Google does not have dedicated assistance like this for Blogger, Docs&Spreadsheets, or pretty much any other service it offers. Many of these services don’t really reveal what it means for such services to be “free” until you have a serious problem – then you’re left begging on message boards and waiting MONTHS for problems to be fixed. Welcome to the Googleverse.