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Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

alanj
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Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

I have just checked my plusnet email account through web mail, only to discover that Plusnet emailed me on 8th November  2014 to inform me that they have 'archived' my emails as I had not accessed my plusnet email account for a while, and that they will only keep them for a limited period.
Unbelievably, although they send a copy of all billing emails to my Yahoo email address, they chose not to do so when telling me that theywere archiving my emails - this in spite of the fact that they acknowledge that the reason for archiving the emails was that I had not accessed this account for a while. Just how did they expect me to see that email?Huh
To add to the incompetence and lack of customer care they demonstrate in this matter, they also chose not to indicate how long they will store the archived emails, beyond the totally unhelpful statement that 'We will only keep archived email for a limited period of time, after which it will be permanently deleted.'
PlusNet - We'll do you proud?? Apparently not.
Alan
24 REPLIES
matthews
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Seems you're not the only one to have been bitten by Plusnet's email... "policies" (for want of a better word) recently.
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

if you aren't accessing your emails then they rightly assume that the contents are of no interest to you. If they were important then surely you would be checking your account? The PN email system is so basic I doubt that many people use it, I certainly don't.
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

I use it but Outlook transfers all the mail I want to keep to a desktop then deletes the rest after a month  Lips are sealed
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Longliner
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Quote from: tijara33
The PN email system is so basic I doubt that many people use it, I certainly don't.

I don't use it because my wife and I couldn't get it going at all. Sadly the 'helpline' operator was singularly unhelpful even after my wife queued for 35 minutes to speak to him. We pay BT, from which we switched in July, to continue with our old email address, and will cite this plus several breaks in PN service when negotiating our renewal. Or not.
matthews
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Quote from: tijara33
if you aren't accessing your emails then they rightly assume that the contents are of no interest to you. If they were important then surely you would be checking your account? The PN email system is so basic I doubt that many people use it, I certainly don't.

Not sure that his qualm is with them deleting them (per se) but in the lack of notification that he was given considering they do communicate through an alternative email address. If he didn't switch on his broadband for a few months would they kindly disconnect him and stop charging him? Would they even contact him and try and work out what the issue was? I don't check on my savings accounts more frequently than once a year so I'd be pretty annoyed if, after 30 days, the bank decided the contents were no longer of interest to me!
The only reference I can find to removing emails on Plusnet's site is the following:
Quote
7. What's the email storage limit?
There isn't one. Although if you have more than 1GB of email on our servers for more than 30 days, we may remove it without further notice. We do this to make sure our email network runs optimally all the time for all of our customers.

I'm mostly playing devil's advocate here, although I do believe that you should either provide a (good) service or not provide one at all. If email is causing a hassle for PN, then either don't offer it or outsource it.
Superuser
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

I do not see what the issues are here...
1. There is a user who did not appear to be using their mailbox and it got archived.  There was no information provided to indicate if the warning notices were not sent to their specified account contact email address which defaults to the catch all email address.
2. Another user refers to unspecified problems, for which they not sought assistance via the email forum - http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/board,65.0.html ; There are dozens of email clients and platforms and I think it would be unreasonable to expect PlusNet to be capable or obliged to support all of them, however amongst the community there is a vast pool of technical experience available to assist.
There are many users having multiple email addresses used across multiple devices with no issues.  Just because a couple of users have encountered challenges is not a rational ground for suggesting that PlusNet should not offer the service or out source it.  Users have lost enough services out of the packages as it is without more cuts being suggested.
alanj
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

It would seem that, with the exception of Matthews, in rushing to defend PlusNet some of you are rather missing the point of my original post.
1. I am not a 'user' who was not using my mailbox - I am a user who did not access the emails in my mailbox for a little over 3 months, for most of which I was out of the country with very limited access to the internet.
2. The fact that I have not accessed my emails for 3 months does not mean I no longer wanted the emails in my account.
3. I can find nothing in the terms and conditions or email policies which indicates that PlusNet will archive and/or delete my emails if I don't access the account for 90 days. I have had the account since 2011, and have often gone extended periods of time without accessing my PlusNet email account without my emails being archived/deleted.
4. As far as I know, all other emails from PlusNet have been copied to my Yahoo account. Clearly I cannot check this as I no longer have access to the emails that have been archived. Whether my Yahoo email address is my 'specified contact email address' I have no idea, as I have no idea what that means.
5. When 'informing' me that they HAD ALREADY archived/deleted my emails, they chose NOT to copy that email to my Yahoo address, opting instead to send it ONLY to the email address which they themselves said I wasn't accessing. Who on earth thought that was a sensible idea?Huh
6. Surely it would have been good practice to give me advance warning of what they wanted to do, to an email address for me which they held at least IN ADDITION to sending it to the one I had not accessed for 90 days.
7. It would have been helpful if they had indicated FOR HOW LONG they would retain the archived emails, rather than the completely unhelpful statement that they will only keep them for a 'limited period of time'.
I have raised a ticket in the hope that I will get my emails back, but I won't hold my breath. My point in posting here (in the 'feedback' section) was to express my dissatisfaction and to forewarn others of the cavalier way in which I feel PlusNet treat their customers. I really doesn't add much to the point of my post to hear how others choose to use / access their PlusNet email accounts...
Superuser
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Quote from: alanj
4. As far as I know, all other emails from PlusNet have been copied to my Yahoo account. Clearly I cannot check this as I no longer have access to the emails that have been archived. Whether my Yahoo email address is my 'specified contact email address' I have no idea, as I have no idea what that means.

Alan,
See last entry in "my details" here - https://portal.plus.net/my.html?action=view_details&s=0 - you will need to provide your login details

Having thought further about this, there might be a "privacy" issue coming into play here.  Many account holders will have multiple email addresses used by different family members.  Would it be appropriate to advise the account holder that a particular box has not been accessed for 90 days?  If this were to happen, I am sure someone would complain breech of privacy - it is a no win game for the provider.
How long would you suggest that an organisation keeps "unused" storage live before taking action?
There is then the issue of how long archived material is retained after which it is irrecoverable?  If it were 90 days - what would be 13 weekly back-up cycles, which is a massive volume of archive data.
alanj
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Thanks, Townman.
Yep, following that link shows that my Yahoo email address, which they did NOT use to inform me of the archiving/deletion of my Plusnet emails, is my specified contact email address.
Superuser
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

alanj
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Townman,
You raise some interesting issues - ALL of which could be overcome by informing all customers that emails will be archived after not accessing the account for 90 days. That way they could send the warning to customers' 'specified contact email addresses' with no breach of privacy, and we would all know the position.
And it still doesn't answer the question of why they didn't send the notification to the 'specified contact email address' in my case, as there are no other plusnet email addresses on my account, nor does it answer the question of why they could not have informed me BEFORE taking the action rather than after, nor why they could not let me know how long they would keep the archived emails before deleting them - or maybe they just do it when they get round to it...
matthews
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Quote from: Townman
How long would you suggest that an organisation keeps "unused" storage live before taking action?
There is then the issue of how long archived material is retained after which it is irrecoverable?  If it were 90 days - what would be 13 weekly back-up cycles, which is a massive volume of archive data.

We can probably assume that archive data is cheaper than live data in terms of storage. If the account was in use then this data would still be part of the backup cycle and would be on the live system. Surely if the live system can handle it then an archive system should be able to? It's a service we're paying for (as there's no such thing as a free lunch) so should be treated accordingly. If I'm paying for the service then there's no such thing as "unused" storage, I'm using it!  Smiley
This is just my opinion as someone who has previously worked in corporate IT and find it ludicrous that such small quotas are placed on storage when it's one of the cheapest things to provision (when administered properly)
Superuser
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

I too worked for a large international IT company which at its height employed 22,000 people in the UK who were allotted 250Mb of on-line email storage.  It was considered to be a large allocation.
PlusNET has circa 750,000 customers who have a fair usage allowance of 1GB email storage.  If everyone where to approach their fair usage allocation PlusNET would need to have 1 peta-Bytes (a million giga-bytes) of logical on-line storage and N times that of off-line storage where N is the number of full historical backups retained as "archived" datasets.  Do not forget that the physical storage could be several times more than the logical volume, depending on the failure protection (RAID) configuration utilised to mitigate data loss.
As cheap as storage has become, I expect that the cost of that is still eye watering by any standard.
Data back up strategies will always be a compromise between speed of backup, speed of restoration in the event of a major failure and the volume / number of backup media used by the process.
Typically backup strategies have 3 cycles / sets of media current - father - grandfather, each set being a full backup and a series of incremental backups at least one per day in the cycle length.  If all of PlusNet's customers were operating around the fair usage threshold, PlusNET would need circa 3 peta-bytes of off line storage, just to manage email back up.
Individually a giga-byte does not seem much, but when one scales that up over the user population and the data recovery needs, the total storage requirements are massive, which is why some reasonable limits on volume and timeframe are a commercial necessity.  To pretend that they are unnecessary is simply not realistic.
It is the user's data and they need to accept responsibility for its security against loss either accidentally or by processes not under their control.  Guess I had better go and do a long over due back up!
matthews
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Re: Incompetence or lack of concern for customers?

Hi Townman,
Thanks for taking the time to write a reply. I hope I'm not coming across as argumentative as I'm genuinely interested in this discussion (I like Plusnet and believe that the majority of complaints on the forums are things that can be learnt from and fixed). I know that everything at the end of the day comes down to cost. Scaling up that amount of storage does become quite eye-watering, as disk storage at it's cheapest is still going to be about 3p/gb raw cost, then there's the overhead of installing, maintaining, staffing, redundancy etc, not to mention replacing failing components.
It would be interesting to try and work out a rough figure for how much running email costs PlusNet. Obviously the majority of customers aren't going to be anywhere near the fair use policy, and there will be some (myself included) that don't even have an email address configured, but it's still not going to be a small system.
The margins of the business probably don't allow them to outsource the running of it either. Not had an extensive look around, but I know that you can get a "kiosk" version of Office 365 (2gb inbox) for £1.30 per user per month (before any form of volume discounts) which provides webmail, POP/IMAP and mobile access. Obviously if every customer had an account that would cost around £1million per month (but would mean the only cost to PlusNet would be providing user support for the system, there'd be no maintenance costs) which is a large amount and probably significantly more than Plusnet are currently spending on that part of the infrastructure!
I suppose the summary of all of this is that they should clarify the service that they're providing (when things get archived, how long for etc) and then stick to that. They're running the business and it's down to them to work out what's manageable and sustainable.