Comcast: Oh, You Wanted To Keep Your Decade-Old E-mail Address?

Some advice for Comcast customers: if you want to keep your e-mail address when significantly changing your services, you should mention this sometime during the process. Nancy tells Consumerist that’s what she learned when she had Comcast combine her cable and Internet access and roll them into a Triple Play account. Sure, the installation went awry, but you expect that. She didn’t expect the company to shut off her e-mail account, since she was continuing as a Comcast customer and all. This was apparently very naive of her.

A couple of weeks ago we foolishly allowed Comcast to switch us over from two separate accounts – one for internet and one for tv – to a single Triple Play account rolling together her existing cable and

Naturally the installation went wrong. The first crew that came to our house put in the wrong kind of modem in the wrong place and severed the cable to the tv in our bedroom. The next crew fixed those problems, but severed the previously functioning cable to the tv in our den.

But the last straw happened today when my email address, which I’ve had for a nearly a decade and use for all my personal business, stopped working.

After 2 ½ hours on the phone to various customer service representatives I learned that the email address had been inactivated either because (a) that’s what automatically happened when Comcast closed our old separate internet account or because (b) the final bill for that account, dated July 26, had passed through the time-space continuum and was 43 days overdue as of Aug, 9, and Comcast automatically cuts off email from deadbeats like us.

I also learned that if we had wanted my longtime email address moved over to our new account, we should have asked. Our bad! Why would we want something like that?
I’ve now paid the bill (twice, actually – once from our bank account and once with a credit card). Supposedly I’ll have my email back within 24 hours. Comcast has promised!
That gives me plenty of time to move everything over to the gmail account I just opened.

Yes, it’s a fair assumption that your e-mail will be turned off while keeping the same Internet service provider. Yeah, who would want to maintain access to their decade-old e-mail address, anyway? Very proactive, Comcast.


Edit Your Comment

  1. georgi55 says:

    I still don’t get people using ISP emails, do these people never move/change service provider? Just get Gmail

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah, I have no idea why people do this. When I got internet service, my login was the front end of the ISP-supplied email address but the company never sends me any email there.

      It’s a little like having an email address. Yes, I know that it’s a free address now, but it doesn’t make it any less lame.

    • quirkyrachel says:

      +1. I was going to say the exact same thing.

    • tbax929 says:

      A lot of folks recommend gmail, but I’ve had nothing but problems with my gmail address. The biggest issue is my contacts either get duplicated 10 times or get deleted altogether. I have a gmail address because of my Android phone, but I don’t use it. I’m still using my msn address.

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      Neither do I. I know that there’s an e-mail associated with our U-Verse account. I think I’ve only logged into it probably a handful of times over the last 3 years we’ve had U-Verse and it’s 99% ads from AT&T and some spam. Both the husband and I use yahoo and gmail for our e-mail (one for junk, one for legitimate e-mails).

    • JohnnyP says:

      I make my own email at home…

    • mikedt says:

      I’ve been using them for 15-20 years now. You set up an address with them and for $20 a year they’ll forward any mail sent to that address to as many accounts as you want – including gmail. Nobody needs to know my gobblygooked address.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I think it’s just a legacy of a time when free email services were terrible and the ISP provided accounts were significantly better. If someone has no reason to switch primary email addresses, then I can’t imagine it would be a real high priority.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      I don’t want gmail.

    • hills says:

      ugh – I HATE gmail – my inbox is all screwy with messages with the same subject stacked together… I have gmail as a backup, but don’t use – not user friendly at all (for me).

      • curmudgeon5 says:

        I agree. Hate it because of the exact same reason — the messages being lumped together when they’re not part of the same thread.

  2. bhr says:

    actually, knowing their system this makes perfect sense. You closed your internet account (that the email was attached to) so that is a reasonable mistake. I’m a little surprised that you could have two separate accounts before that, since that is really quite odd for them (everything needs to be coded by address)

    That said, someone in the process (on both sides) should have noticed this was going to happen and been proactive about it.

    **Remember that all email accounts (free and pay) can crash/fail/go away at any time. Always have a backup. One suggestion is to set up a free backup account and automatically forward all email from your main account to it, just get in there occasionally to manage the memory. It may not keep people from emailing an account that is inactive, but you will have records of all those emails and addresses

  3. tvmitch says:

    Lesson learned. It’s very, very foolish to trust and use a Comcast email account for anything important. Next thing you know, they’ll change the domain to with no notice. Comcast email accounts are great for spam signups and that’s about it.

    Gmail is your friend, good for Nancy to see the light. Better yet, if she has a business, get a domain for the business and an email address at that domain.

    • Marshmelly says:

      agreed. I had a comcast account a while ago even though I used Gmail. I only used Comcast for Ebay because Ebay had some rule that your username couldn’t be the same as your email. Comcast decided it would randomly close my email account without warning, so an email about a sale I had made never got through until much later when I wasn’t able to ship the product. My parents still use Comcast email but I’m trying to get them to switch.

    • Dondegroovily says:

      That kind of thing actually did happen to my parents. Verizon has decided to leave the wired internet business in Washington (state) and Frontier took it over. Then my parents long-time verizon e-mail was changed to a Frontier e-mail, despite promises that the changeover would be seamless.

  4. dwrichards says:

    Same thing happened when I switched from ATT DSL to ATT UVerse. The technician set up a new email account and linked everything to it without asking me. Luckily customer service was able to fix it in under 10 minutes. (including hold time!)

    On a side note, I don’t really use the address for much, I just didn’t want to have to change the settings in GMail and notify the few people who had my old address.

    • tbax929 says:

      I don’t know if gmail offers it, but some e-mail providers will allow you to merge your contacts and send out one mass e-mail that informs them of your new e-mail address. I would recommend making sure everyone in your old contacts list are people you still speak to, though. When I did it, a couple of exes got notices from me, and I’m sure they didn’t give a damn what my new e-mail address was!

  5. 4Real says:

    I never use the internet providers email address. I stick with Gmail. duh

  6. quirkyrachel says:

    Personally I think that using a service email address like that (att, comcast, aol) makes you look technologically incompetent.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      My Cox service provider email has been great for the last 12 years. I use my gmail and yahoo email for creating web site accounts (like this one). I’m far from technologically incompetent.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      I agree

    • coffeeculture says:

      i agree…kind of put a negative halo effect on resumes when we’d see email addresses from aol, sbcglobal, earthlink, etc…

      • Quantumpanda says:

        Would you rather receive resumes an email address like I don’t see any reason to be snobbish about an address. If that’s your attitude towards potential employees, I don’t want to work for you.

    • Quantumpanda says:

      I have my own domain that I use for personal email. But for job searching, I use the default address that came with my U-Verse account because it looks more professional than a vanity domain. There’s nothing embarrassing about using a default ISP email address if you have no real reason to not do so. Only tech snobs think your ISP address is embarrassing.

      Now, an AOL email address, well, that’s embarrassing. :-)

  7. edison234 says:

    Given all of the horror stories I read about Comcast on this site, how can this company continue to exist? Yeah yeah – monopoly. I am sick of hearing how crappy they are!

  8. ktetch says:

    And yet I’ve still got access to my Charter (another cableco) email address despite cancelling that account in 2004. Actually, my wife still has HER charter account, from when she lived in Atlanta, and she cancelled that account in 2000.

  9. dbeahn says:

    “That gives me plenty of time to move everything over to the gmail account I just opened.”

    Yes, this. Doing it any other way would be like paying for long distance on a Saturday when you have a cell phone with unlimited long distance and unlimited nights and weekends. It’s been nearly a decade since it made sense to use the email your ISP provides. Make the switch now, diliberately, and avoid the pain of being forced to make it in the future.

  10. bvita says:

    I think that the best option is to buy your own domain name, even if you don’t plan on posting a site. Once you own the name, most registrars allow you to alias the name to another account. For example, if you registered you could use and have it point to Get tired of Gmail? Repoint it to

    I did this for my Mom. She’s redirected it from Earthlink to Gmail to Live transparently.

  11. Spider Mann says:

    I still have premium access to my yahoo account that I was given as a customer of PacBell when they switched to SBC and had that Yahoo cross-promotion thing going.


    As a point of note; if you are running a business, don’t use a,, or other sort of email address like that. Especially if you have a website with your own domain name; it just makes you look like amateur hour.

    Learn or ask someone who knows how to set up an email account using your domain name for all business account access. You can then set up gmail to check that account and access it from the road easily if you are not technologically adept.

    (Most hosting companies allow IMAP access to any email account you set up for your domain, btw.)

  12. kathygnome says:

    These things will always change, ISPs will go bankrupt, cable companies will be sold or change names. The best thing you can do is get an independent email address at gmail or yahoo.

  13. AstroPig7 says:

    I make my own e-mail at home. No, really, I run a mail server out of my house. I think that Comcast should have provided fair warning, and I understand the personal connection that one might have to a decade-old address, but don’t get attached to it unless it℉s on a business card. E-mail is an unreliable form of communication and personal e-mail addresses should be regarded as transient, since they can change for numerous reasons.

  14. pot_roast says:

    Comcast has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to yanking email addresses. Excite@Home -> AT&T -> Comcast -> Xfinity. The whole thing has been a mess.
    Back in the good ol’ days, your ISP email address was supposed to be a reliable thing. Then the bottom fell out of the market and consolidations started happening. I used to check my old (now gone) ISP email with PINE. Ah, the old days.. where stuff worked..

  15. econobiker says:

    The fact that she signed up for a different account (triple play) from two prior separate accounts means that she is a new customer on the triple play account.

    She should have closed out her separate account email address and then restarted that exact same email address in the new account. That is what my wife and I did when we flipped account billing between each other when moving so we would qualify for new customer deals. Somehow in that case comcast does NOT understand that that a customer who starts up the same email address as a previous customer is the same customer. HAHAHAHAH.

  16. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I don’t know a single soul who uses an ISP address. i didn’t even think they existed anymore.

  17. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I have my own domain. I ran my own mail server off of a cable modem for over a decade, but finally switched to google apps for domains (standard edition is free)!

    This is not the cheapest way to go, but it provides a very professional looking email address that is never tied to another service.

    Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail addresses are good, but I think there is still a lingering (not deserved anymore) stigma to free email domains. If you want almost any domain registrar will offer included email services at least as good as your ISP, but I would check out a real email provider.

    And for everyone who complained about gmail, you can use it like a standard POP or IMAP account if you prefer (although you loose most of the unique features. I use Thunderbird 3 which integrates fairly well with the archiving concept).

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      How did I miss the last sentence in the article? Sounds like the OP already knows the solution.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Does gmail still scan all of your emails for keywords to target ads to you? That’s the main reason I never got a gmail account.

  18. human_shield says:

    ISP email addresses are always temporary. The company can change them any time they want. And if you have a problem with them and switch companies, there goes your email. Gmail is stable right now, but even that might change someday, 5, 10 years. Getting your own domain is the way to go. Go with a cheapo like GoDaddy and you can probably call them and they’ll help you set it up. And they all have some kind of webmail access.

  19. BridgetPentheus says:

    I found that out long ago with Comcast, when I moved a whole 4 blocks and decided to stay with Comcast they decided that my e-mail address needed to be shut down to do so, good thing I had only set one up b/c I could

  20. Destron says:

    This is one thing Qwest does right, instead if giving you a provider email the give you a Live email – I wish it wasn’t hotmail – but at least if I ever left Qwest I would still have that email account.

  21. hymie! says:

    Comcast did the same thing to me when I moved from one county to another. Apparantly, different local office means different account, and my new account couldn’t have the same e-mail address as the old account.

    Fortunately, I don’t use my Comcast e-mail address for anything.

  22. tape says:

    Comcast used to have an arrangement where you had which was for your billing and such, and which you used for your email and web hosting and whatnot, and .com and .net had different user databases. Then, one day last year or so, they decided to combine them. This ended up causing me a couple of minor problems, and when I tried to get them to fix it, they did it in such a way that forced me to get a different Comcast email address.

    Good thing I’ve never used it for anything in 10+ years, not even once.

  23. mike_bruns_99 says:

    Google Apps. Free email for life. $10/yr for the domain.

  24. kubus_gt says:

    Must be a new rule. Still have access to Comcast e-mail even though I haven’t paid them for 6 years.

  25. mykie says:

    This is no surprise, given Comcast’s track record…

    When Comcast took over AT&T Broadband, they gave me about 2 weeks notification that my old email address was going to get changed to a new email, whether I wanted it to or not, and without the opportunity to forward these emails.

    This was in the middle of a time when I was looking for a job, and so changing the email address I had been sending out to potential employers was a serious setback.

    It was at this point that I swore off ISP email and decided to set up Squirrelmail on my own personal domain (This was ages before Gmail and Google apps), and have been using that until Google Apps came out.

  26. ComcastBonnie says:

    Pretty sure I know what happened here. Sounds like the person who set up the transfer didn’t put the transfer flag on the usernames… which should have happened. I’m trying to get more information now, but this sounds like the case.

    Happy Friday, fellow Consumerists!

  27. TasteyCat says:

    Have used Yahoo since 03. Wouldn’t even think of using my Comcast address. It would have been real inconvenient when I switched to DSL or my town’s ISP the times I moved.

  28. MwMike says:

    My dad had Comcast and dropped it about 4 years ago, but his Comcast email account is still alive and well. I can’t belive it.

  29. DanKelley98 says:

    Makes me miss Frank.

  30. RagnarIV says:

    The customer should never ask to retain their email. That is a given. Sounds like someone blew up her account trying to transfer her services and tried to pin it on the customer.

  31. Resurgent says:

    Happy Friday fellow consumerists. Wow anyone else tired of Bonnie chiming in like this is a reasonable mistake? Comcast messed up big time (as usual) and feels like we should cut them some slack. No Comcast. You are wrong here. It’s not right to inconvenience the customer for days when this could have easily been avoided. Stop hiding behind Xfinity and fix your broken customer service and overpriced behind the curve services.

    • brinks says:

      Bonnie’s just doing her job…

      which is chipperly covering for and correcting her co-workers’ incompetence.

  32. bwcbwc says:

    Wanna keep your email address? There’s a fee for that.

  33. addicuss says:

    If you’re still using isp email for you’re main email address yours an idiot. If you move out of the area yoi lose the address. If the company gets bought out you lose the address. If the company changes names you lose the address. Its really not that difficult. To change email addresses. A vacation response and a mass email and you’re done.