Yahoo Shuts Down Decade-Old E-Mail Account, Shrugs

David is a paying customer of Yahoo, for web hosting services. It’s also been his e-mail account for the last decade. So why can’t he get an answer out of anyone there as to why they abruptly shut down his account a few weeks ago? He’s been locked out of his digital house on the Internet, and no one can tell him what he did wrong. Yahoo is an impenetrable fortress with no phones, designed to keep customers from talking to anyone with an idea what’s going on.

The letter is long, but bear with David. He explains, step by step, precisely how aggravating it can be to try to get an answer out of Yahoo.

I have been a Yahoo! Customer for many years. I first set up my email
account about ten years ago, and it has been my main email account ever
since. I also have two Yahoo small business webhosting accounts, which I
pay for. Recently, all of my Yahoo services were suddenly suspended
without warning. This happened on January 25, 2012, and since then I have
been trying, not only to get my account working again, but simply to get
any customer service assistance whatsoever and have received almost none.
To be frank, the way I have been treated by the Yahoo team has been awful,
and I think this has more to do with Yahoo policy than with the persons

On Wednesday, January 25, I tried to login to my account and received a
message that my services had been suspended for violation of the Yahoo
terms of service. I was surprised at this, because I have been using Yahoo
mail for ten years without problems and have made no changes in the way
that I use it. I am not aware of any violation of the terms at all.

Immediately I looked for a Yahoo customer service phone number, but the
company does not provide one in their Help section on their site. So I had
to fill out a form. I sent this message to Yahoo Customer Care inquiring
what the problem was. I received a message (at an alternate email address
I provided) that said they would respond within 24 hours. After 24 hours
passed, I wrote back saying, “This is an urgent matter. It’s been more
than 24 hours, and I have not heard back from you. I am missing important
emails having to do with work. Please respond.” I had to wait another day
to hear back, and when I did, I got the following message: “Thank you for
contacting Yahoo! Customer Care. This message is to let you know that your
Yahoo! Mail inquiry will require some additional research before we can
determine what, if any, action is warranted. Please note that we are
routing your issue to an Abuse Support Agent who has specialized
expertise. We try where possible to provide a written response within 24
hours, but actual time may vary.”

Keep in mind that at this point my account had been suspended for two
days, and I still had not gotten a message from a real person. I cannot
emphasize how important it was for me to get my account reactivated,
because not only was my email my main method of communication with others,
and my email address was the only address for me that some people had, but
I used one of my websites to provide important materials for my classes (I
am a teacher). This was directly affecting my ability to work.

Did I receive a response from Abuse Support the following day? No, I did
not. So I looked all over for a phone number I could call (and believe me,
this was no easy task), and I finally found one for email and password
support. It is the only customer service number the company has. The agent
with whom I spoke suggested I chat live with a support technician, but I
would have to open a new email account to do so. This I did, and, after
waiting for 45 minutes, I chatted with the support technician. He told me
that he could not help me because it was a matter to be handled by the
Abuse department. So I asked him if he could give me a phone number for
the Abuse department, and he said they do not possess a phone. So I asked
if I could chat live with someone from the Abuse department, and he said
no, they do not provide that service. He said all I could do was email
them (which I already had done). And that was that.

I then waited another day for an email response, which I did not receive.
It was now January 29, four days since the suspension. So I called the
email support line again, and I was told that there was nothing they could
do for me. They suggested that I fill out another contact form to send to
the Mail Abuse department. They said this would speed up the process. So I
did this. I received another form letter that stated they would respond
within approximately 24 hours.

Two days later I finally received a response. The response, from a person
named “[H]” was simply a form letter, which said nothing more than
what I already knew: that my account had been suspended for violation of
the terms of service. No specifics were given (heck, I don’t even know
which term of service was allegedly violated), nor was any evidence given.
So now it was 6 days since I was locked out, and I was no further along in
getting any help. Not even a little bit.

As you can imagine, I was beyond frustrated by this point. I emailed
“H” back asking for some specific information and some actual
help. Then I called the email support line again and asked to speak to
someone in charge. I was put on hold, waiting for half an hour, and
finally was forced to hang up. I called again, and this time they put me
through to a supervisor, who identified herself as “[S].” I explained my
dilemma to her, and she sounded sympathetic but told me she could not
help, that I had to wait for a response from the Abuse department. I
explained that I had not received any assistance from them and asked if
she had a phone number for their department. She said no. I asked her if I
could speak to her boss. She said she could not provide me with that
information. I asked her if she could give me a phone number for ANYONE at
Yahoo that might be able to help me. She said no.

Then through an internet search I was able to locate the phone number for
the corporate office. I called, but when I selected the option for
customer help, it simply sent me back to the email support phone number I
had already called. So I tried again, and pressed 0. Thank heaven I
finally got an operator. I told her about my problem and needed to speak
to someone who could help me. She told me to hang on, and then sent me
back to the main menu! Arrgh!

I was at my wit’s end. I did not know what to do. To top it all off, on
Feb 1, I finally received another response from the Abuse department, this
time from a person called “[A].” And do you know what I received
from her? An exact duplicate of what “Elizabeth” had sent me. Word for
word the same! A form letter. No actual response.

So I replied to A. that I needed to know what specifically I had done
to merit the suspension and to provide me with evidence of this. I also
asked if I could get my account reactivated or at least if my emails could
be transferred to a new account.

Two days later, I received the following response: “Hello David, Thank you
for writing to Yahoo! Mail. Yahoo! may, in appropriate circumstances and
in its sole discretion, remove or edit any content; and/or terminate the
accounts of users who appear to have violated the Terms and Conditions.
Any action taken is confidential. We will not release this information
unless required to do so by law or under other similar circumstances. We
are unable to make exceptions to this rule. Thank you again for contacting
Yahoo! Mail. Regards, [redacted].” So basically all I was told was that they are
allowed to suspend an account. No offer of assistance of any kind.

I then obtained the postal mailing address of the Yahoo! Corporate Office
and sent a letter to Scott Thompson, the new CEO of Yahoo! explaining the
whole experience to him. Maybe it was overkill to write to the head of the
entire company, I don’t know. But the problem is that Yahoo provides no
contact information and makes it very difficult, nearly impossible, to
speak to anyone at all. It’s almost as if the Yahoo staff is hiding from
their customers. It appears shady. It has been a week since I sent the
letter and have not heard back. I still have no resolution to my problem.
I don’t want to have to go to another company. My email account is so
ingrained into my life–I have used it everywhere–that it is like losing a
limb. I might add I haven’t even been able to play my Yahoo fantasy hockey
league in the two weeks, and my friends are kicking my butt. The most
tragic part is that my email account has 10 years of history in it,
contacts that are lost to me now, and conversations with loved ones now
dead–and I have no way of accessing them anymore, and I worry that they
are lost forever.

Google Deletes Last 7 Years Of User’s Digital Life, Shrugs