Dear Carol Bartz: You Need To Fix Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail still generates an ungodly percentage of the company’s total pageviews. It’s also one of the stickiest services Yahoo has: Folks who can get their news and games anywhere return to Yahoo dozens of times a day to check their mail (and then they search, click, etc.)  Yahoo Mail is even a revenue-generator: Lots of people like me pay for the product. 

Which is why Yahoo needs to fix Yahoo Mail immediately.

I have been a Yahoo Mail user for 7 years.  I pay the company for the service: $9 or something per month to manage several business accounts (add the accounts together, and it’s more than $20 a month).  I used to be a happy Yahoo Mail user.  Now I’m so frustrated that I’m about to defect.

To be clear: I work for Yahoo, and I own stock in Yahoo, and I want desperately to see the company get its products and business humming again.  It will also be a major pain in the arse for me to switch email providers.  So this is no small step.

Here are some of my recent frustrations with Yahoo Mail:

  • I can’t figure out how to make the spanky new AJAX version (or whatever it’s built on) manage multiple accounts, so I still use the old HTML version.  I assume this is operator error, but I don’t have time to sit on hold for hours to figure out how to do something that should be intuitive.  The original version does what I need it to do (manage multiple boxes), so I’m sticking with it.  Which sucks, because it’s state-of-the-art 1995.
  • Yahoo Mail search doesn’t index my most recent messages.  If you sent me an email yesterday, and I try searching for it, it won’t show up.  So I have to go back and find it manually.  Assuming I remember you sent it.  This is a colossal pain in the neck.
  • Yahoo Mail search doesn’t index my really old messages.  There’s some cutoff–six months?–after which my older messages don’t appear in Yahoo mail search results.  As a result, I can’t access old messages and addresses.  I could page through thousands of pages manually, I suppose, but I’m not going to waste my time doing that, so old messages are as good as gone.  I did spend two hours with a pleasant Yahoo customer service rep a while back trying to fix this problem.  No joy.
  • Delivery is inconsistent…and sometimes non-existent.  Sometimes my emails arrive many hours after I send them (especially recently).  Sometimes senders complain that emails to me have bounced.  In a job in which minutes make a difference, this is scary.
  • Sometimes I can’t access my Inbox.  Yahoo Mail won’t let me put all my accounts into the same Inbox, so I have to toggle between Inboxes.  This is annoying, but tolerable.  Except when Yahoo Mail won’t let me open my business account, which happens with annoying regularity.  I’ll be working in my main Yahoo inbox, and I’ll click my business inbox, and then I’ll just be sent back to my main Yahoo account.  In other words, I can’t check my mail. Infuriating.
  • In the past few days, Yahoo Mail has started logging me out every hour or so.  This never used to happen, so hopefully it’s a temporary problem.  But it is mucho annoying.  Yesterday, after drafting an email, I clicked “SEND” and was immediately presented with a login screen.  When I logged in, the message had disappeared.  It wasn’t in the “SENT” file.  It wasn’t in “DRAFTS”.  I have no idea whether it was sent or just vaporized.  I picked door No. 2–vaporized–and I retyped the email and sent it again.  Hopefully the source on the receiving end didn’t get it twice and conclude that I have lost my mind.

That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m sure there’s more. 

A confession: I have already been forced to switch from Yahoo Calendar to Google Calendar, because The Business Insider has started using Google Calendar, and also because I couldn’t figure out how to sync Yahoo Calendar with my BlackBerry. (The sync isn’t working with Google, either–my CrackBerry’s ancient–but I’ve already switched calendars, so I’m not going back.) 

It is a HUGE pain in the arse to have my email on Yahoo and my calendar on Google, so the gravitational pull is becoming intense.  And now that Yahoo Mail seems intent on driving me away by beating me with sticks, I suspect it won’t be long now.

So please get cracking, Carol.  Don’t blow it like AOL did.  My email glues me to Yahoo, and I don’t want to leave.  But I will if I have to.

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