Lycos Deletes All Of Customer's Email, Tells 'Em To Suck It

This is Mike Jandreau, master and commander of all customer service at Lycos. When you don’t check into your email for 30 days, Lycos deletes 2 years worth of your personal email.

He’s the guy who, after you complain, tells you to go suck an electrical socket.

Your job is to ask, “how hard?”

At least that’s what happened to Whitney. When she bemoaned the evaporation of 104 weeks of her personal correspondence, Mr. Jandreau at Lycos responded,

    “I’m sorry, no one here has any intentions of helping you with anything.

    I am the manager of all of Customer Service. There is no one higher than me that you will speak with.

    You violated our policy, which is, despite what you say, completely clear.

    No one is holding anything hostage. Your e-mails have been completely deleted, and no amount of money can now restore them. “

Policy it may be, but this is no reason to treat a customer, even if most people aren’t even sure that your company exists anymore. Lycos owes Whitney an apology and the restoration of all her deleted email.

For the future, why can’t email services let us port our email archives just like address books? That way customers like Whitney could dump Lycos for something that doesn’t suck, like Gmail. — BEN POPKEN

Lycos SUCKS: they held my emails for ransom for $19.95, then deleted them [idaho-hum]
UPDATE: Original blog entry down to CPU overload, here’s a Google cache.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Stepehn Colbert says:

    huh, he has quite a jerk-off face too.

  2. logie-al says:

    The same thing happened to me a few years ago when I had a Netscape e-mail address. First they took away my e-mail address and told me to change it to something else, then after I relegated it to a junk mail account, they deleted all of my e-mail and my address book. Some of the e-mails I had were very dear to me, and there was no way of backing them up, so they sat there. Several were from my late sister.
    I knew it was a free account, but jeez…

  3. acambras says:

    Wow — if you follow the link to the original article, there are more juicy bits of e-mail and a very interesting comment thread.

  4. timmus says:

    I don’t know… it says right there on Lycos “Note: The content of a Lycos Mail Basic account will be deleted if the owner does not login and check the account at least once every 30 days”. I’m guessing that’s damage control since the page don’t have the prominent disclaimer (the 8/28/06 archive is live; it is NOT an actual archive). But a year ago they said they’d delete after 30 days.

    I have no sympathy in this case. As they say, if it’s important, make backups.

  5. timmus says:

    (or if the service doesn’t allow backups, use something that does!)

  6. kenposan says:

    He’s a jerk and was way out of line, but if the policy is to check in every 30-days…

  7. For the future, why can’t email services let us port our email archives just like address books?

    It’s called terms of service. For a free e-mail account. I don’t think their policy is unreasonable, but this Mike Jandreau guy is a dick.

    If she was going out of the country or otherwise planned on being indisposed, it’s her responsibility to set up a more dependable free e-mail account, like Gmail or Yahoo! – but then again, there’s a reason Lycos is number fifty in a three-horse race.

  8. Solo says:

    Or you can shell out 8 bucks/year for a witty domain name like and another 15 bucks/year for email hosting, so you can have your very own . It’s a great conversation started.
    Lycos, AOL, hotmail, gmail, they don’t give a rat’s ass, they don’t care.

  9. donwilson says:

    Lycos is still around?

    Well, at least they’re not like and don’t change their homepage in (literally) 10 years.

  10. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    They guy certainly sounds like a dick..but hey, it’s Lycos and it’s free…you get what you pay for. Their brand recognition is so good, I didn’t even know they were still around.

  11. infinitysnake says:

    Happened to me with hotmail…didn’t check in, then went on a trip and couldn’t..three years of stuff, poof. Thirty days is a bit strict.

  12. savvix says:

    “This hardly seems like a customer-friendly policy, especially toward someone like me, who has been with Lycos for several years. “

    GIVE ME A BREAK. Just because you maintain a freaking account and hardly use it does not make you a “good customer”. Look its a free account and you should get absolutely no support. The fact that they replied in person (as opposed to Google) shows that at least they’re trying to do something.

    To as for a restore for FREE is so absolutely moronic is not even funny. An hours worth of an engineer’s time is about $70. $19.99 is not exorbitant in any sense of the word.

    Yeah you may say I’m from Lycos. I’m not. I’m just pointing out how ridiculous it is bashing Lycos for something that is clearly unreasonable (restoring your email for free).

  13. magic8ball says:

    I would be interested to know exactly how “deleted” those emails really are. If, for example, a federal agent showed up with a subpoena, would they magically reappear? I’ve always wondered.

  14. I always wish in the back of my mind that I had the balls to be that straight with customers. Just reading how direct this kid was is kind of funny actually. Its not like he called her any names or anything. And he wasnt wasting her time by trying to de-escalate her. He just got straight to the point. Of course, I havent read the whole transcript so I might not know the whole story.

  15. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yeah, 30 days seems really short. But on the other hand, the policy is quite clear. And it’s a free account.. beggars can’t be choosers.

    At the very least, he should’ve used an automatic e-mail checker like ePrompter to help keep his accounts alive.

  16. Mr. Gunn says:

    Who doesn’t check their email for 30 days? I mean, I have some old accounts that I almost never check, and they’re still there, but if it’s an account that I cared about I’d certainly check it more than once a month, or forward the important emails to an account I do check. As mentioned, you can get get for dirt cheap, so that’s something to file away.

  17. krunk4ever says:

    For the future, why can’t email services let us port our email archives just like address books? That way customers like Whitney could dump Lycos for something that doesn’t suck, like Gmail.

    Although I feel sorry for the person for losing their email, you can’t really complain about a free service. If you want transferable email archives, host your own email service. Pay for something that is really important to you. Although some free email services are better than others, that doesn’t mean everyone providing a free email service has a bar to meet. Don’t like this free service, then leave, choose a new one, or pay for a higher quality one, but complaining about a free service won’t get you anywhere.

  18. If its not backed up on your own resources then it wasnt important in the first place. Dont hate me but I honestly empathize more with the CSR than the customer.

  19. Benny Gesserit says:

    Yes, yes, the guy’s an assh*le. No question. Ugly and likely has a 3in penis. Fine.

    But, really, you’re trusting your beloved and important email to a free service???

    And, am I missing something about U.S. ISPs? Don’t they offer their own email services – often with web access added? Here in Canada, I use Roger’s – POP and Web access to email is part of the deal. Stored nice and safe.

  20. mrbenning says:

    People need to start realizing that free email services on the Internet are not the same as having a filing cabinet in your home office where you store stuff forever.

    Companies go out of business, websites go down, your identity gets stolen, et al. Make a hard copy, or at least, a backup if you consider it /that/ important.

  21. crayonshinobi says:

    I used to have a Lycos account years ago, and let the same inactivity delete the account by accident. It wasn’t so much the messages that I missed, but I lost quite a few email addresses that I would like to have kept.

    After reading the link, I don’t think Mike was out of line at all. He was perhaps a bit terse, but bluntly honest and didn’t call names or anything. Don’t check your email for 30 days and your account gets deleted. Seems pretty clear to me.

    The only thing worth getting upset about is the fact that Lycos can “Restore” your data for a fee. This feels like extortion in that they are offering to restore data that they in fact deleted in the first place! I suppose a grace period would be kinder, or a nominal fee to restore the data, not subscribe to the pay service for a year just to get it back.

  22. homerjay says:

    As a lifelong Bostonian and self-appointed representative of Red Sox Nation I would like to add that in no way do we endorse the actions of this douchebag and we request that he turn in his hat.

  23. Pelagius says:

    But, really, you’re trusting your beloved and important email to a free service?

    Since I move around on a regular basis, and service providers in each area or country will vary, my free email account is the most permanent address in my life. Just sayin’

    That said – the complainant is getting what she paid for and the 30-day disclaimer makes it pretty clear that they delete accounts and anything in them after a month’s inactivity. A tough lesson in corporatespeak.

  24. Papa K says:

    Doesn’t their service actually state you have to check it in 30 days? I know Hotmail does, but I’ve checked once every 60 days or so and it’s still there. It doesn’t mean one day they won’t delete it all, but I sure as hell don’t keep anything important in it that I’d miss.

    But I have to agree, this is a bit overboard. I don’t care if he cursed her out – she’s not paying for this service, and $20 to give you back your email because you weren’t willing to pay $20 a year to a company that actually has to account for your email? And not having backups of important info?

    She got what she deserved, sadly. I wouldn’t expect any tears if gmail suddenly deleted my gig of wasted space on their server.

  25. medalian1 says:

    yet another reason to have a gmail account

  26. Anonymously says:

    “You violated our policy….”
    Violated. Really?

    So the act of deleting emails was in retribution for not logging in for 30 days? That’s a far cry from the tone of “Lycos reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to delete any materials”

  27. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    I love all the rule lawyering going on both in this thread and in the one on her blog. Lycos is charging for a service that other companies somehow manage to offer gratis, and someone at Lycos decided to wipe out her email after she complained about it, and the response from some seems to assume that these policies were written in tablets of stone brought down from Mount Sinai.

    I know that customer service types are schadenfreuding like crazy, and having a customer service element to my own job, I can relate to wanting to see some of the true customerzillas get it in the neck. But Supreme Overlord of All Customer Service Mike is going beyond the pale here. His picture matches his tone of voice perfectly: some smug quasi-bureaucrat in 90s frat-boy drag who is still bitter that he’s not the dot-com millionaire he no doubt thought he was going to become just by knocking together a few mediocre websites, and who likes to take it out on others by burning up their old emails. I hope that he’s in a living hell right now. Rock the unemployment line, Mikey!

  28. ddrager says:

    Just a note that Yahoo! Email does this as well. I lost email going back to 1999 or so because of that clause :(

  29. pestie says:

    And this would be why I never used one of those free e-mail services. My mail lives on a server at my house and is backed up nightly. I used to actually run my own SMTP (e-mail) server for sending and receiving mail, but between the disruptions caused by occasional outages and the fact that most residential IP’s are blocked by the big guys’ SMTP servers due to spam, I now have a commercial domain hosting company receiving my mail, but only until fetchmail picks it up and delivers it to my local mail server (once per minute). And if my home server goes down, I can count on my hosting service to pick up the slack until I can resurrect it. The commercial service I use costs all of about $5 per month and includes ungodly amounts of web/e-mail space, plus three domains. It’s a hell of a deal.

  30. MonsieurBon says:

    Yeesh, what a whiner. It’s a free service. The guy didn’t have to be a jerk, but they are free to follow their own policies.

  31. HotTubber says:

    I’ve got a free hotmail account, too, but it’s only used when I’m looking for a job. If I’m not looking for a job and don’t check it in 30 days and everything is deleted, so what? What would you expect from a service?

    My real email account is the one I use through my ISP, the one I pay for. I download my emails from their server and, a couple of times a year, I’ll back up those emails. This allows me, if I want to (which I don’t), to view every email I received or sent as far back as ’97.

    Be responsible!

  32. Gopher bond says:

    Dudes, it’s not about the policy, it’s about poor customer service. If the emails get deleted and I call up asking how I can get them back along with reinstating my account I should get a clear and concise response. If that’s your policy and I goofed, fine, tell me so, maybe apologize for having a sucky policy if you feel like it, whatever, but don’t rub it in. I just screwed up and you’re giving me shit about it? Screw you Lycos!

    What the hell does Lycos do anyway? I should head on over there and see.

  33. fredsfish says:

    IF you don’t like what lycos is doing, you can open a trouble ticket here:

    even if you don’t have an account, you can still enter a ticket.

  34. Sorenso says:

    They must be selling off hardware with the deleting of accounts. I mean they thought they were going to be this big company and now, the bills due on the credit card. Guess those extra servers need to go, so consolidate accounts and delete those with BS 30 day limits.

    Hotmail did that to me, and well I am better off with a paid account from a different provider.

  35. TrashJerk says:

    I am a computer support professional. I have been using lycos mail for about 8 years. They do not listen to bug reports, detailed complaints, printscreens, write-ups, user interface problems, … on and on. I am moving everything away from lycos. I have documented over 50 outright design problems with lycos mail and there are many outstanding serious problems with their email service. No reliability. Stay tuned for more. Last week their customer “service” jerk “warned” me about complaining. Once I am no longer using their system, I’m going to post a copy of my itemized lycos problem list wherever and whenever I can. Have fun!

  36. LB says:

    My Lycos e-mail account just closed without warning. I just logged in yesterday and read my e-mail. Today when I tried to log-in I got a message that my account had been closed, and if I wanted to reopen it I had to pay $19.95 per month. I was just an individual using a normal free acoount, but no longer!

  37. LB says:

    By the way, this was the message I got from Lycos today (and I could not log-in to get my e-mail) although I logged in and read my Lycos e-mail yesterday:”We’re sorry, your account has been closed due to inactivity….You can prevent this from happening in the future by upgrading to Lycos Mail Plus. “
    Lycos Plus would cost me, and my account was definitely not inactive.