NetZero Locks Me Out Of My Account, Charges By The Minute To Get It Back

Matt has an issue with NetZero’s e-mail technical support. “Wait,” you might be saying. “People still use NetZero?” Well, Matt does. His e-mail address on the service is very old, but he just hasn’t got around to changing the places where it’s his e-mail of record. So he keeps paying for it, year after year, importing the messages into Gmail. At least, he did until he was locked out of his account, and couldn’t reset the password. NetZero charges by the minute for tech support, but Matt was assured that he wouldn’t be charged for a simple password reset. This was incorrect.

Now he’s calling the service’s tech support a “scam,” which is something of an overstatement. But it’s still pretty infuriating.

I’ve been clinging to an old e-mail address, one I’ve had for years and years. I’ve been meaning to wean myself off of it, but have been too lazy. But now I’ve got the ultimate reason, the provider is running what appears to be a total scam. For some reason, I went to login to my account (I typically don’t interact directly with the Netzero Webmail interface, I’ve been checking it via one of my Gmail mailboxes. When I went to login, it wasn’t accepting my password. So I went to the reset password link, where I should enter some basic identifying information, then be given a security challenge question. Problem is, the password reset function wasn’t working (see attached pic). This left me no choice but to call their support number to have it reset by a support technician…. and they charge $1.85/min for this, you have to enter a credit card to even get connected to one. Again, I had no choice. I needed to get to my e-mail (still confused as to why my password suddenly stopped working). So I get the usual uber-slow run-around on support, but finally get them to reset my password. And after explaining to the technician about the self-service password function not working, he assured me I would not be charged.

And surprise, surprise, I did get charged. For a password reset. $5.85. I know it’s not much, but it’s the principle. I’ve had a lengthy e-mail exchange with their member services department, who stand by the legitimacy of their charge. The real hero in this is American Express, I called them, and they are issue me a credit, regardless of what NetZero does.

But seriously, I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but if they have hundreds of customers all calling in for password resets and being charged, that can add up.

I really was very reasonable with them in asking for them to reverse the charges, but all they kept doing was saying it was legitimate and referring me to their ToS.

At any rate, at best, this is ineptitude and poor customer service… at worst, an overt scam intended to bilk subscribers out of money.

Before you laugh at anyone who would still be a NetZero customer, remember that they recently came back from the almost-dead to offer free-ish mobile broadband if you buy their device. Just keep in mind that you just might be getting exactly what you pay for.


Edit Your Comment

  1. GMFish says:

    I’ve been clinging to an old e-mail address, one I’ve had for years and years. I’ve been meaning to wean myself off of it, but have been too lazy.

    I know this makes me the bad guy, but I have no sympathy for someone this fricken lazy. He could have fixed this problem years ago and saved money by simply taking 5, maybe 10 minutes out of his life to switch over to a different email.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      bad guy – Bad Guy – BAD GUY!!! – (insert computer code to make bad guy font even larger)

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      Except that instead of minutes, maybe it will take hours, or days to get all the email accounts switched and notify contacts. I’ve changed emails only a couple of times, but the last account I tried to ween away from was a couple years ago, and people on my contact list still haven’t figured it out. Anyway, good for you if it only takes a couple of minutes. I’m glad you have so few logins to deal with.

      • Captain Spock says:

        I send out one mass email and then the onus is on my senders. My old email forwards to gmail, but I reply from gmail so they get my new one that way also. Also, in my signature for the next year was advice of the change.

        • eeelaine says:

          That’s a great approach if you just use email for personal contact. Unfortunately if you have memberships, bills, or other things associated with your address it can take quite a bit more effort on your part.

          • HogwartsProfessor says:

            I have this little program called A-Z Notebook by Bad Wolf Software. It’s password protected and all my logins are in there. I put what email I’m using for what website. If I didn’t do that I’d forget all my passwords, but this way no one can get them. I only have to remember the one password that opens it.

            They make a very cool writing program too, PageFour. I don’t work for them (they’re in Ireland) but I love their stuff.

            • jiubreyn says:

              Same here, except I use 1Password to keep all of my logins, websites, etc. in one place. It syncs with DropBox so you can keep it up to date across different devices (iPhone, computer, etc.)

              There’s a master password you have to enter to see the database then a password specific to unlocking the data (if something sensitive like credit card info.)

    • Jawaka says:

      I don’t see the big deal. If NetZero is still offering the service and the OP isn’t ready to migrate away from them yet then why should he?

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    So in essence, I have to pay a corporation for the priviledge of fixing a problem
    that would prevent me from paying them even more money per month.

    • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

      For something you shouldn’t be paying for at all and wouldn’t be if you weren’t so lazy!

  3. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    Waaay back when they first came on the scene I used NetZero when I travelled (before Wireless service was prevalent). They stated – blasted it, in fact – that they would never never make anyone pay for their services. Yes, you had lots of stupid pop-up ads around the borders of your pages but, hey, it was free so who cared. Make sure your firewall and personal security was good and no problem.

    Then they sorta disappeared and when they resurfaced it was like hey, I know we promised we’d never charge you but now we are. I get that companies change and revenue streams are constantly in flux, but you don’t broadcast that you will never do X and then do it anyway. At least maintain a minimal free connection service – anything else just shows you will renig on any commitment just because

    • The Beer Baron says:

      While I understand your concern, my friend, it’s not like they promised that they were never going to give us up, that they were never going to let us down, that they were never going to run around, and by doing so, desert us. They also never promised that they were never going to make us cry, that they were never going to say goodbye, and that they would never tell a lie and hurt us. Had they done all those things, and then turned around and in fact, done so, that would have been unforgivable.

    • nybiker says:

      So, they reneged on the OP. But ‘just because’ why? Or is it just the final period that’s missing.

  4. Alexk says:

    What, you blame the OP because he stuck with an old Email addy? Why? Are we obliged to changed addresses every year or something? I’m constantly amazed at how far people will stretch to blame the OP.

    • cactus jack says:

      Enter text…

      • cactus jack says:

        Dammit, accidentally clicked submit before actually typing anything.

        Anyway, it’s 2012, Netzero… the company whose business model was to tie itself to K-Mart of all freaking places and has been pretty much dead in the water since.

        So yes, I do blame the OP.

      • Nidoking says:

        I tried that. It said that one or more of the fields below were incorrect. So what text do I enter?

        • cactus jack says:

          Could be a mixture of me hitting submit and trying to click the cancel reply button over and over right after.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      I blame the op because he knew the ToS when he signed up for service with Netzero. They charge for tech support and say so when you sign up. He no longer wanted the email account but chose to put it off. So they closed it (probably because he no longer logged into it at the site) and he needed tech support to reset it.

      If I no longer have use for a bank account and let it site idle and get a bill for account maintenance from the bank. Do I get to whine like a child when I clearly agreed to those fees when I signed up? Take some personal responsibility!

  5. J-Purchase says:

    This is why you buy your own domain, like or something similar and create your own email addresses that you never have to change. You’re going to have to pay for email hosting, but you can do that about $25/year.

    Using a free email service is going to bite you in the butt eventually.

  6. Red Cat Linux says:

    I still have an ancient Earthstink account that I pay for – I used that address for years. And years. While I mostly function on GMail now, I haven’t taken the time to ferret out all the places the Earthlink account still is registered.

    I guess I’ll look into it.

    Too bad you can’t ‘port’ email addys to new mail providers the way I could port my phone number so I never have to change it again.

    • dobgold says:

      you can. see Red Cat Linux above. I have my own domain with Go Daddy and have all emails forwarded to whatever ISP or Gmail that I want. If I change ISP just change the forwarding address.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        Not quite what I was saying. I have an Earthlink account from the year one. It forwards to my Google account (some 5 years old now, or whenever the beta started).

        I cannot take the Earthlink account out of the equation and still use the address from that domain they way I did with my telephone landline.

        With my telephone, I kept the phone number (equivalent of the Earthlink address) and ported it to Google Voice by way of a tosser AT&T Go phone. Verizon account is now kaput, but the number lives on, and can follow me anywhere thanks to the flexibility of Google Voice.

        • dobgold says:

          “too bad you can’t ‘port’ email addys to new mail providers the way I could port my phone number so I never have to change it again.”
          I was replying to this part of you post. You would have to start over with your own domain, but would then be able to forward it to wherever you wanted. My original ISP was sold so many times… I kept getting bounced around ..the last time I think I was traded for a minor leaguer and a future draft choice.

  7. spartan says:

    I have to give props to AOL and Prodigy. Maybe these dinosaurs simply missed out on new revenue, but when these companies stopped being content providers they released their customers emails to them.

    And I have had no problems with Yahoo hosting my old email account that dates back to the mid-1990s

  8. Dave B. says:

    The only thing I find more amusing than someone still using netzero is someone that’s paying to use netzero.

  9. scoosdad says:

    Look at it this way– $5.85 is the lazy tax.

    Isn’t having an AOL account these days considered a step up from NetZero?