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My midweek without Y! Mail, can I expect more of free?

This week my family and I went on a blisteringly hot vacation in Pennsylvania.  I am as addicted to work email as the next guy.  Rather than keep my BlackBerry on hand, I gave out my personal email address to a handful of colleagues and told them I would keep my iPhone nearby (in case of emergency).  This would have worked fine... if it weren't for Yahoo! Mail's near complete product failure.  

The first morning of our vacation, I logged in to check my mail on my iPhone.  

Error shouted the screen in eary silence.  

Zounds! a fictional Scooby Doo villain shouted in my head.  

The prompt went on to explain that my password could not sync through the native mail client as my credentials were no longer valid.  While the cartoon characters in my head ran around in circles to the tune of the wicked witch of the west, I tried logging into Yahoo!'s mobile webmail client.  I was told my password was invalid.  I checked my BlackBerry and noticed that I had an alert from BlackBerry notifying me that my Yahoo! Mail account credentials were no longer valid.  HACKED screamed the alarm bells in my head.  Never would I have guessed that this was a routine security upgrade from Yahoo!.  One that they failed to notify me about.

You may think I'm just another blogger venting his inner anger due to a lack of a filter but trust me, I tried the appropriate channels.  

  • I filled out the web form in their help section and was told I would receive an update 24 hours later.  This update never came.
  • I followed @yahoocare on twitter and reached out politely asking for help.  I will not use this space to highlight their actions needed, and I hope that Patrick with their escalated care team is sharing the feedback I provided.  This team could use some help.

I hadn't gone into this vacation intending to spend a the mid-week without access to email.  I was actually counting on my YMail as my lifeline.  Oh Yahoo!  For years I have answered the inevitable "Why aren't you on Gmail?" question with a simple "I really like Yahoo!" (only to be honest, I didn't always say that name Yahoo! with the enthusiasm the ! implies).  

I can't say that I love Yahoo! Mail anymore.  

After a frustrating couple of days disconnected, I resorted to the dirtiest card in the book: tweeting that I would0 write a case study regarding my experience.  Only after playing dirty did I received access to the level of support all users should expect of their core service providers.  I sold my soul to gain access to a free mail system.  A system I have invested over 10 years of usage in.  Who's the loser now?

Yahoo!'s Concierge team explained that this password change was part of their security service, and that I should have received a prompt to change my password after logging into my email from my browser.  As I use Yahoo! Mail primarily via my mobile, this was an accidental but very real product failure.  I'm hoping they can get this fixed, as this was a truly frustrating experience.

And that brings us to today.  Am I crazy for staying with Yahoo!?  Am I nuts for expecting more?  Am I insane for asking for great customer service for a service I don't pay for?

I have a lot of respect for the team at Yahoo! overall.  I have a number of  both professional and personal relationships with the broader organization and team.  Is it time that I switched to Gmail?  To a paid service?  Or should I resign myself to the fact that nothing is perfect, and a decade with only a couple bumps in the road is a pretty good track record?

Can we expect more from free?

Do we really expect too much of everyone else to begin with?