Last week several hundred thousand subscribers, including me, got an email from the ISP Xtra which said:
Sent: Wednesday, 15 August 2007 16:36
To: Xtra Customers
Subject: Service Announcement: Xtra Webmail will be unavailable for 24 hours
We are making a significant upgrade to email this weekend, and as a result webmail will be unavailable for up to 24 hours over the weekend. However you can still send and receive emails using email software like Outlook. To find out how to set up Outlook please visit www.xtra.co.nz/help .
For more information over the weekend about the changes and the status of the upgrade please visit www.xtra.co.nz/updates
The Team @ Telecom Xtra
Based on my experiences this week it should have said:
We are changing our email service from Xtra New Zealand to Yahoo! Australia servers in this weekend and as a result;
- Webmail will be unavailable more than 24 hours over the weekend, forever unless you agree to new terms and conditions. You will be required to agree to Yahoo!, not just Xtra, Terms & Conditions to continue using Webmail even though this service was heavily promoted as a benefit of your Xtra contract.
- Email access using software like Outlook will also have random disruption that will last a week or so and will never retrieve some messages at all.
- Yahoo! SpamGuard will replace the XtraMail Spam Filter
- It will not offer the current Xtra “Tag spam but don’t delete” option.
- It will also false tag approximately five times more valid mail as spam.
- It will be defaulted to “on” and you will have no indication it’s diverting spam, including “valid spam” messages, to a folder you can not access without using webmail (which requires agreeing to Yahoo! terms).
- If you have an existing Yahoo! account;
- The Xtra Webmail URL and Yahoo!Xtra Bubble link on the Yahoo!Xtra home page will take you to a Yahoo! Sign-in that has nothing to do with Xtra, Xtramail, or Yahoo!Xtra Bubble
- There will be no indication on this page of how to access Xtra webmail or sign up for Yahoo!Xtra Bubble. In fact you will be required to use Google to find the http://www.yourbubble.co.nz/ page where you can sign-in to access webmail.
- We will not be updating Xtra FAQ accessed from the Xtra home page.
I had a huge reduction of email volume since the “mail upgrade” and wondered what had happened. It wasn’t until tonight that I found this missing mail. It required accepting the Yahoo! terms and logging into Yahoo!Xtra Bubble webmail. Over six hundred messages were being held in a “Bulk” spam folder and were not seen by Outlook or other software using pop3 access.
I had used XtraMail’s spam feature to tag, but not delete, spam messages as it had a fairly constant 2% error. If I’d used the “delete spam” option I’d never have seen those messages. MailWasher allows me to preview and accept this valid “spam” before deleting the real spam and retrieving my messages.
The weekend upgrade meant Yahoo! SpamGuard Plus took over spam filtering. It had moved 653 messages to the “bulk” spam folder, of which 68 were valid. I had missed messages from friends, readers, event ticketing, sports newsletters and service updates from TypePad who host my blog. Xtra’s 2% spam error had leapt to over 10%. What’s annoying is I’d never have known those messages existed at all without logging into Yahoo!Xtra Bubble Webmail.
Doing that required quite a detailed sign-up and care to avoid install of Yahoo! Toolbar and Messenger, neither of which I want. Once in I had to disable SpamGuard and manually move the messages, 12 at a time, to the webmail in-box folder. Even this was hindered by the default “new Yahoo! mail UI as found I had to go back to the older mail UI for the message moves to stick. Once that was done MailWasher could see & process these messages. It’s filter mechanisms correctly identified most of my valid mail, allowed me to pick the others I did want and then got rid of all the real spam.
Note the big dip in volume when the bubble arrived...
If you’ve sent me a message that got stuck in the Bubble sorry for the delay in responding. I’ll catch up with them over the weekend. Then I’ll figure out how to bill Xtra for the time I’ve spent sorting out their troublesome Bubble.