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I’ve had my .mac email address since Apple first offered free email service. When they started charging for MobileMe, I was one of the few who didn’t complain. I live by the phrase ‘no such thing as a free lunch.’ Someone always has to pay the bill. I like having my .mac address. I can change internet service providers and not worry about sending a change of address to everyone. I’ve never completely trusted Gmail, and don’t even mention yahoo mail. Every time I hear of someone’s email account being hijacked, it is invariably a yahoo account. Definitely not acceptable.

My .mac account has been super steady until recently. MobileMe service outages were rare and never more than a couple of hours for planned maintenance. I could access it from any computer, any location. Then came iCloud. Now, it’s great that it is free, but along with eliminating the fees, they also eliminated photo galleries and websites. Give it back! I’ll pay! Gladly!

Another glitch (at least in my book!) is that on my iPad, I must use the Mail app to access my email. Can’t do it with Safari. Try it with Safari and it offers to set up Mail for you. I recently was in a position where I had to use a semi-open wifi system for several days. Certain ports on that system were blocked — ports that Mail on the iPad uses. Web browser on my Nook Tablet had no problem accessing my email on the same network. Really, Apple?

The corker came last Friday when my email was offline. Huh? Password rejected? Huh? Friday is an important mail day for me. Launched Safari, then Firefox, and while I could login to iCloud, I could access everything except email. Checked with my iPad & Nook — same result. I checked Apple’s iCloud status page to see if any problems were listed, and everything was listed as A-OK.

I proceeded to spend 45 minutes in online chat with two tiers of tech support. They were in the dark and tried all of the usual troubleshooting methods. Of course, the first suggestion was that I delete the account from Mail and add it back. Not gonna happen. I finally got through that the problem was the same across all methods of access, and since everything else on iCloud was working, the only thing that it could be was a server problem on their end. After 45 minutes, the only answer they could give was that the data is “being moved to another server mailstore in order to guarantee performance and security.” My email was back up by Saturday morning, but after haunting the Apple Support Communities discussion boards, it seems that a lot of people are going through the same thing, and have been for some time now.

I can understand problems with a new system, but Apple needs to be honest about it. Let the tech support people know about it. Put a message on the status page that says “Everything appears to be working on our end, but we understand that some of you may be having a problem. If so, let us know and we’ll get it fixed.” People may get upset, but they get more upset when facts are hidden. And if we have to go back to a paid system, let’s do it. I will gladly pay for a consistent service. But above all, please be honest with us. I don’t want to go through the hassle of making Gmail my primary account, but if things don’t improve, I may be force to do it. Please, Apple, at least level with us.

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  • pete

    It seems like a small problem to complain about? I think that Apple has such nice products and services that it’s often hard to find legitimate things to really complain about, so when there is we tend to jump on them with everything we’ve got. Can’t you use a paid email service like Sparrow? I just heard about it yesterday from the Lifehacker podcast but it sounds like something you’d like. Before I get berated… I mean no offense by this comment it’s just my opinion and a suggestion, no more no less.

    • Phyllis Evans

      It’s not a small problem when people rely on that email for time-sensitive communication. A paid service? I paid for my permanent dotmac/dotme address for a lot of years, and I’m more that willing to go on paying for it. I didn’t ask Apple for free iCloud service. My biggest complaint is not about a 24 hour outage. That can happen. My complaint is that Apple has not acknowledged that this is a problem. Warn people that they may experience this type of problem, and give it 24 hours. First and second tier tech support personnel are even being kept in the dark.

      Oh, and Sparrow is a mail client not a mail service. Big difference. It would do absolutely nothing to help this problem.

  • Peter

    Totally in your camp regarding the email issue. We are now a society that uses and counts on the availability and access to our “written” communication. Email – text – even social media sites. That being said, when there is a glitch in that line of communication, that provider is obligated to provide an accurate and timely explanation of the problem and the steps being taken to fix it.

    That being said, I have spent endless hours with Apple chat trying to fix email problems and content problems in the old Mobile Me system, which generally resulted in no resolution until the problem on the server end was fixed. Hours.
    Which, in my opinion, would have been largely avoided if we were given the ability to actually speak to a person. Which leads me to my major pet peeve, we don’t use the telephone for what it was invented, to effectively communicate with words and verbal intonation with another human. I have also found that more and more folks ignore their email and only respond to text.

    • Steven Gold

      Peter, I spent several hours in an online “Express Lane” chat a few months ago when I couldn’t access my email on MobilMe. Of course, the MobileMe “status” said “all services running normally”. After several hours of silliness like “reset Safari” (how was that supposed to fix Mail.app?) and removing/readding my account, the support rep was out of ideas. She then told me *her* personal MobilMe email account was broken too and had been for several days.

      So, Apple *knew* there was a problem and that it was in *their* mail servers, but they wouldn’t allow their support people to admit it. Instead of wasting my and the support agent’s time, they could have said “we have a problem on our end; hang in there, we’re working on it.”

  • Steven gold

    The University of Michigan Health System blocks all ports except for those used be HTTP/HTTPS on their “guest” Wi-Fi. This means you can only used web-based email interfaces while a visitor or patient at any of their hospitals & clinics.

    As pointed out, this means no access to iCloud email from your iPhone or iPad since “Apple knows best” and redirects you. Grrrrr…..

    (As far as I know, UMHS is the only medical system which won’t let you use SSL/SMTP. “Leaders & Best” my eye.

    • Phyllis Evans

      My problem was with the Botsford network. Terry suggested using iCab on the iPad, set to mimic Safari on the Mac. Worked once, and no matter what I did, it crashed on the network. Even deleted it completely and redownloaded it.

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