Here are just a few of the problems you might experience when using free email addresses.
Problem 1 - You can lose them if you don't use them
Just so you're aware, this is the sort of message that is sent to who someone emails you after you've lost your free email account:
|The following message to <
> was undeliverable.|
The reason for the problem:
5.1.0 - Unknown address error 550-'Mailbox is inactive'
Problem 2 - You have no control
Here's an extract from the terms and conditions of a typical free email provider:
|We reserve the right to suspend or cancel your user account at our sole discretion, and in the event that we do so you agree that we will have no liability to you. If we do cancel your user account this will mean that all your e-mails and any material contained within your webspace will be deleted.|
Not exactly a 'must-have' feature if you absolutely depend on your email address for business or personal use
Problem 3 - Not available when you need it
It's not unusual to find that the email server of a 'free service' is overloaded to the point where it asks you to 'come back later' when you try and login. That email wasn't important, was it?
Problem 4 - No service is really free
In fact it's free in as much as watching ITV is free, if you can put up with the mind-numbing advertising. A free email provider may work in a similar fashion by forcing you to enter through their highly stylised login portal, often making you wade through unwanted human-interest content and advertising. However, you may actually enjoy these distractions. The choice is yours.
Problem 5 - Critical emails may simply be trashed - and you won't know!
Here's what happened when a customer tried to contact a supplier using a Hotmail account:
|Mail rejected by Windows Live Hotmail for policy reasons. Reasons for rejection may be related to content with spam-like characteristics or IP/domain reputation problems. If you are not an email/network admin please contact your E-mail/Internet Service Provider for help.|
Not only did this message infer that the customer sending the email had a problem with their account, but it also meant that crucial business or personal data - such as a travel confirmation or bank statement - could have been lost because of non-delivery. And remember that it would have been the sender who would have received this message, and you as the receiver would have been blissfully unaware.
Problem 6 - Broadband handcuffs
Beware the free email that comes with your broadband account. If you depend on that email address, and then your broadband service starts going down the pan or gets too expensive, will it stop you from changing supplier? The question to ask the broadband supplier before signing up is, can I take the email address with me if I change to another supplier? Another option is to think twice about using the email address the broadband supplier gives you, and instead use an email address from a source that's not tied to any other service.