Watch Your Mouth On Yahoo! Answers Or They'll Delete Your Email And Website

Reader Andrew has been a Yahoo! email paid subscriber for 8 years. He also has a Yahoo! Small Business account for his website and has a paid Flickr account. He also participates in Yahoo! Answers. Sadly, Andrew said something on Yahoo! Answers that Yahoo! feels violated their TOS. The result? They deleted Andrew’s entire account, including his email, Flickr, and website hosting. He was given no warning. Yahoo! says his account was “suspended.” Andrew writes:

Now, lets have a quick look at that word – suspended. If a student get suspended from school that usually means they are back within a few days or a week or so. Yahoo!’s definition of suspended means removed permanently. This included all emails I had saved over the last eight years, my pre-paid Yahoo! Small Business Account, my FLICKR account, IM account – the lot. To top it off, and here is the sweet bit, even though I OWN the domain name transformertattoo.com I cannot move it to another hosting service because the contact email address, yup, you guessed it, was my deleted Yahoo! email address. “

Andrew says this is happening to quite a few people who say something untoward on Yahoo! answers (according to Andrew they claim he said something about harming animals, which he denies, but who knows.) Even if Andrew did say something out-of-line, should that affect other services he’s paid for? Andrew claims Yahoo! will not reinstate his account or refund his money. Read his letter inside.

Dear Consumerist,

I have been a big fan of your site for a while now, and, unfortunately, I have a story of my own to relate to you. It’s kind of tricky, so please, bear with me.

I have been a Yahoo! Email user for over eight years. For three of these years I have subscribed to their Mail Plus service at $19.99USD per year. I found that their email interface worked well and I became a heavy user of their other services such as Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Calendar, Yahoo! Answers, and FLICKR to name just a few.

Over the last three or so months, my friend and I decided to start up a website (http://transformertattoo.com), which is a gallery of user-submitted pictures of peoples tattoos. Being a regular Yahoo! user, I went for a Yahoo! Small Business Hosting Plan. I payed Yahoo! around $10USD to register the domain name and paid an up front monthly fee of $12USD.

The website was up and running within days and it was becoming quite a popular place. My mate and I were earning a few bucks every few days off it. No worries. It was a fanciful little hobby.

Over the last 3 months, I had become an active member on Yahoo! Answers, reaching Level 3 and sitting on around the 2000 point mark. This is all fair and well.

Earlier this week, I logged into my Yahoo! email to check messages, lo-and-behold, it rejected my user name and/or password. “Not to worry”, I thought and punched in the appropriate data again. I blinked twice. It rejected my user name and/or password again.

“Strewth!”, I muttered under my breath and jumped on over to Yahoo! Answers to see if I could log in there.
No such luck.
By now, I started to panic slightly. My palms started to sweat and my mind began racing. I couldn’t believe it. “Surely, they haven’t done the same with our website”, I reasoned. I slowly typed in the URL of the domain name that I owned, making sure the spelling was correct. I closed my eyes. I said a little prayer and hit ‘Enter’.

Error 404

By now I was in shock.

Two things came to my mind. Perhaps their server was down. No, Yahoo! doesn’t let that happen. Then the second, more gut retching thought trailed through my mind. They have suspended my account.

Now, lets have a quick look at that word – suspended. If a student get suspended from school that usually means they are back within a few days or a week or so. Yahoo!’s definition of suspended means removed permanently. This included all emails I had saved over the last eight years, my pre-paid Yahoo! Small Business Account, my FLICKR account, IM account – the lot. To top it off, and here is the sweet bit, even though I OWN the domain name transformertattoo.com I cannot move it to another hosting service because the contact email address, yup, you guessed it, was my deleted Yahoo! email address.

I lobbed on over to a newly discovered site called ” Yahoo! Answers Violation Notice Board”. I had never heard of it. No wonder. This is where people can dispute accounts being closed. Let me tell you – there is a lot of people there who have also lodged complaints and grievances about their account being removed.
Example 1 – http://messages.answers.yahoo.com/answers/threadview?m=te&bn=SEA-ViolationsNotice&tid=135&mid=135&tof=2&so=E&frt=2#135
Example 2 –
http://messages.answers.yahoo.com/answers/threadview?m=te&bn=SEA-ViolationsNotice&tid=2280&mid=2280&tof=17&so=E&frt=2#2280
Example 3 –
http://messages.answers.yahoo.com/answers/threadview?m=te&bn=SEA-ViolationsNotice&tid=401&mid=401&tof=4&so=E&frt=2#401

I posted a question there asking the same as many, many other people, “Why was my account deleted?”. I received a reply around 10 hours later confirming that my account had been “suspended” for breaking Yahoo!’s Terms of Service. They alleged that I was posting questions relating to harming of animals and people, which is absurd. As I mentioned I had put around three months of effort into gaining best answer and building my profile up to a Level 3 with 2,200 points. Why would I do anything like that? I am against harming people or animals.

Unlike, Yahoo! for example – on their video website at http://video.yahoo.com/video/play?vid=155749 it seems to promote harm to animals. (Not that I endorse it).

I appealed to their sense of logic and reason stating that, as a paying customer (around USD$150 per year (FLICKR, Mail Plus, Yahoo! Small Business) – which is around $180 Australian dollars), that I had never posted content that promotes harm to humans or animals,

I am furious that Yahoo! assumes I posted content that broke their ambiguous and gray Terms of Service. Does Yahoo! deliberately set out to ruin their business or is it an out-of-touch gun-ho manager power-tripping? Even though I have paid in advance for another month of hosting, they refuse to either refund my money or create dialog with me resolve the issue satisfactorily. Most of the on-line accounts I have such as banking, YouTube and others have as a contact email address my now deleted Yahoo! account. They have the subtlety of a sledgehammer in the teeth.

And they were nominated for a Webby Award. Sheesh!

Consumerist, please have a look at my story, check the links in the story and enjoy your day!

A disgruntled ex-Yahoo! user

Andrew

We guess this is a warning to all users of Yahoo! Answers. It might be a good idea to have an alternate account for use in that section of the website. If what Andrew says is true, there seems to be no acceptable, customer-friendly way to appeal a “suspension,” and really no reason for said suspension to effect separate services a customer has paid (in full) for. We’ve asked Yahoo! for clarification of their policy and await their reply. —MEGHANN MARCO