Netidentity.com’s Email Migration Nightmare

Back in 1998 or so, I decided to see if the domain name for my last name was available for purchase. To my surprise (my last name is not that common), a company called Mailbank ha purchased the domain and was selling email addresses and web space on the domain for $5/year.  That seemed like a small price to pay for the service so I signed up.

Mailbank was sold and the company became Netidenty.  Their prices have continued to increase (I now pay like $50/year) but I stuck with the service.  I think in the back of my mind I always hoped they would give up on the business model of mass buying tons of domain names and give up the less profitable ones.  Since there have never been more than 2 users that I know of on the Foust.com domain, I figured there may be a chance that one day I could buy the domain.

In any event, the company was recently sold to Tuscows and they decided to upgrade their web mail interface.  This is a fairly popular action for email services to make so I didn’t think much of it.  Well, my mailbox got corrupted during the migration and now I have been without my personal email for 3 days.  This has been a migration gone bad to say the least.  I have placed an email and a call into support with no response.  The only real message I get is that there are thousands of people with the same problem as me.  Not really much of a consolation for any single person left without email for days on end when they could have settled with another email service for free.

The closest thing to customer service I have seen, are a couple of blog posts by a senior product manager.  This has helped as far as information goes, but it doesn’t really make me, a loyal customer, very satisfied.  It makes me especially angry when I read the following:

Mailbox index corruption. I have been informed that this problem has been solved. We were able to ascertain that the indexes of roughly 2500 accounts had been corrupted. Once all of the accounts were identified, it was relatively easy to fix the issue. This means that no one should be stuck on the pending migration page.

This is absolutely not true for me and for many others according to the comments of Ross’ blog post. You can tell a lot about a company by how they respond to crisis and I have to say that Netidentity has failed in almost every way.  It will be interesting to see how this whole thing shakes out.

Here is my advice to Tuscows (the new owner of Netidenty), stop raising prices and keep the service simple and reliable.

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24 Responses to Netidentity.com’s Email Migration Nightmare

  1. Scott says:

    Yes, I do believe we are all victims here and have little choice unless we want to surrender our current custom email addresses. It would be nice to be able to change to another company for our email service the way we can now change cell phone providers and not change our cell phone number. I’m sure there would be no NetIdentity if that were the case!

  2. T says:

    All you say is true. There is no support available for almost a week now. I managed to log in into a new system and it’s THE WORST and THE UGLIEST webmail system I’ve seen. And I’ve seen quite a few during my IT studies, when we were obligated to create a simple webmail system to pass an egzam.

    All customers of NI/Tucows I know, are disappointed. And that’s a first since over 5 years.

    T.

  3. tiktokman says:

    Thanks for the blog and your insightful words. I am also stuck in this nightmare of no e-mail since Monday. This is so fucked-up. Heads should roll!!!

  4. Matt Beard says:

    I think it is time to leave this bunch of losers!

    I already have an alternative e-mail address lined up, but I have not wanted to go through the pain of getting everyone to change their records. This disaster makes that pain look minor!

  5. Doug says:

    I am a Network admin. Any time I make a change I am required by my company to have a backout plan and timeframe. If the new system is not up and running in the time alloted the backout plan is implemented.

    Netidentity has failed to provide even a reasonable measure of customer service. e-Mail has been down for about 3 days for many people. The new interface is poor at best.

    The ONLY reason the company continues to have customers is they have purchased domains people want to use. The cost has gone up and the quality of service has gone down. The free services provide better spam filtering and up time. Many companies claim “five nine’s” uptime. This means their system is only down 5.26 minutes per year.

    This single outage has come close to “two nine’s” uptime. Being up 99% of the time means being down 3.65 days.

    Usually web hosting companies will list uptime as part of their service agreement. In the case of Netidentity this is missing. I can not find a single place on the site which states uptime.

    As part of the solution to this problem I would expect a guaranteed uptime for their systems. If they have downtime which exceeds the guarantee they should extend contracts free of charge.

    By the way, did anyone notice that netidentitysucks.com is available?

  6. Shirley Dawson says:

    This is sloppy work done by incompetent amateurs.
    Your negligence has affected thousands of people from all over the world.
    Shame on you Tucows.

  7. Robert says:

    Hidden cam takes a snapshot of the pre-migration planing meeting.

  8. News Press says:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    September 23, 2006
    Tucows, Inc., is pleased to announce the appointment of Krusty the Clown to the position of Chief Technology Officer. As his first assignment Krusty will be responsible for the e-mail migration of NetIdentity subscribers. Join us in welcoming Krusty to our dynamic team.

  9. Frustrated says:

    QUOTE
    The Issue of not being able to customize your “From” address…
    When I send email from my Netidentity account, the from address normally looks something like this:
    Ross Rader [ross@netidentity.com]

    I could even change this to something like:
    Ross W. Rader, NetIdentity [ross@netidentity.com]

    With the new mail system, the default looks something like this:
    [ross@netidentity.com]

    Which, as far as defaults go, isn’t great, but it ain’t bad.
    UNQUOTE

    No, it “ain’t” bad, uh?

    In 1995 I opened a FREE webmail account with Lycos. You could not only choose the name you wanted for the “From:” field but even define more than one and assign them on a per-email basis (quite useful if you use the same account for your business and personal e-mails). And that was 11 years ago.

    Anyways for yours I suggest the following:
    Krusty the Clown [ross@netidentity.com]

  10. No More Tucows says:

    Actually what NetIdentity and Tucows are doing with our names is akin to cybersquatting.

    “Since registration of domain names is relatively simple and inexpensive – less than US$100 in most cases – cybersquatters often register hundreds of such names as domain names.”

    This is exactly what they are doing.
    We could register a complaint with WIPO.

    http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/studies/publications/domain_names.htm

  11. thesunnyside says:

    You should learn from this and register a domain name and set up a host account for around $50.
    Your email address will never have to change again unless you fail to renew YOUR domain and/or hosting account.
    Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side.

  12. […] Last week I wrote about how my email provider Netidentity had completely messed up a migration with their web email system and left thousands of user without their paid for email service. […]

  13. Grishnakh says:

    You should learn from this and register a domain name and set up a host account for around $50.
    Your email address will never have to change again unless you fail to renew YOUR domain and/or hosting account.

    The problem with this, for many of us, is twofold:
    1) Someone already has the domain names we’d like. My last name, while rare as a last name, has already been taken by a plywood importer for .com, someone else (currently under construction) for .org, and of course NetIdentity for .net. NetIdentity is squatting on tens of thousands of surname-based domain names.
    2) Since Netidentity took our surnames, many of us just went ahead and got email accounts with them, years ago (in my case, with Nameplanet). Changing our email addresses at this point would be a big PITA.

  14. Andrew Lea says:

    I am happy to report that I have now completely weaned myself off NetIdentity having spent the better part of today updating and re-subscribing to various online services (online banking, eBay, PayPal, utility ebilling, newsletters etc. etc.) What a pain in the backside – and all because Netidentity/Tucows made a complete botch of migrating the email service I have used quite happily for many years. One of the main reasons I signed up in the first place was to have an “email address for life”. But what’s the point of that when it doesn’t work for a month and I have no faith that it will ever work properly again.

    So now I will be andrew@leamail.org (my own domain) instead of being held to ransom as andrew@lea.com 🙂

    (Incidentally, POP access hasn’t worked today when I have needed to access my NetIdentity account to confirm updates I was making at various websites. It served as a useful reminder of why I am putting myself through this pain so that I can wave goodbye to Ross and the Tucows herd for good.)

  15. Tucowed says:

    I finally obtained the cancellation and refund I’ve been requesting from NetIdentity for over six weeks. The only person there who seems to be able to help is Jonathan Clarke so if you’re a NetIdentity/NamePlanet subscriber who wants off this buggy ride, write him a nice, polite note to request yours — but don’t expect quick action. It appears that he’s handling hundreds of similar requests with no other help from the Company. Also, if you’re a subscriber, please cast your vote for/against NetIdentity in the online Poll.

  16. Doug says:

    Well, we are in a new year and the Netidentity fiasco rages on. Frequent problems, bounced e-mail and poor customer service remain the hallmarks of this migration.

    Questions sent to Netidentity support are either lost or take 2 – 4 weeks for a reply. I have sent multiple requests and the response time is measured in weeks.

    Ross continues to say they are working on it but we are still waiting for results.

  17. Angry User says:

    Netidentity kicked me out when I tried to explain to them what a goot IT service is…

    Maybe my 25+ years of exp. is useless…

  18. Bernd says:

    Interestingly enough the worries others seem to have witnessed before have reached me after all: all of a sudden pop3-access to my mail account was impossible, some »Adam K« of Netidentity let me know »Looks like you renewed basic webmail only. If you wish to have premium email services like POP3 and IMAP, it only costs $10.00 extra a year. «
    So POP3 access is a premium email service now …
    Time for me to move to another email provider.

  19. Dis-appointed User says:

    Well, I finally am in detox and go away from mailbank. I was the selfish ego-maniac I was pleased to pay TOP$$$ for my name. I have used that old email for ten years. Today therefore I said goodbye to an old friend and all day logged-in to more than 60 sites to change my contact emails – , dmv, banks, irs, everything. It was more easy than I thought even if very time consuming – but I will already save time with reliable email. I found almost my same name through a service of expired names for sale. My new business cards are ready Thursday. I have received email in my new name. I feel good. I think maybe mailbank is deliberately trying to make everyone with an intelligent dispersal to leave and then vigorously exploit the remaining masses.

  20. Dan says:

    Here we go again, Tucows is getting out of the e-mail hosting business. WTF… over!?!?!?!

  21. grantly says:

    Well, Tuscow/Netidentity e-mail is down again, third time this year, 1st time out for one week, in October 10 days and now today December 23rd 2008 is the second day I cannot access my mails. Further I cannot access web mail, Tuscow support or “contact us”, so no way to find out what has gone wrong this time, its a disgrace. After the October fiasco, they offered to help me set up with another server or to five me one month free service…..great but I have paid for two mail addresses for 5 years. What a way to treat a customer.

  22. Marc says:

    1/10/09 Down Yet again…

    Email Service Bulletin
    Posted By: Ross Rader On: 10 Jan 2009 10:45 AM

    DetailsAt the completion of the mail maintenance window yesterday evening, hardware issue caused a failure in the mail system for some of our customers.

    At the completion of the mail maintenance window yesterday evening, hardware issue caused a failure in the mail system for some of our customers. We are uncertain how many of our NetIdentity and Domain Direct customers have been affected by this failure, but we expect that it is most, if not all, of our customers.

    The OpenSRS Email team is estimating that it will take approximately 16 hours to fully restore mail service for all customers and is projecting that this will complete around 10pm EST this evening.

    Details are not fully available at this point, so we will report more later when we hear more from the engineering team, but at this point, it looks like one of the Network Appliance servers that houses the mail stores is suffering from some sort of a manufacturing defect (i.e. bad hardware) and will need to be swapped out and the data restored. The OpenSRS team is working closely with the team from Network Appliance to resolve this issue.

    During this period, you may be unable to send or receive email and may experience “Service Unavailable” errors if you are using webmail. None of your inbound mail has been lost, we are queuing all inbound mail and it will be delivered to your mailbox when the mail service has been fixed.

  23. Douglas Woodhouse says:

    Yes, it is really a joke. Last time they ended up offering all customers a 2 month extension when they renew. So in order to receive your compensation for the lack of service you have to give them more money. I have had enough of it and I think it is time to start a class action law suit against the company because I for one am not giving them any more money, especially to get my compensation from last round of bad service.

    Douglas Woodhouse
    Toronto

  24. Mad As Hell says:

    Let’s get this class action lawsuit started…

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