with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Dismissing Hotmail

I’ve given it a lot of thought and finally made a radical decision to blow out (over time, of course) our hotmail accounts. They have been very useful for a long time as they have been free and easy to access from any where in the world as we travel. Our web site email has been forwarded to them, making it even easier to get our email. Unfortunately, MSN is making Hotmail unbearable to live with.

Issue One
The first crime was the grandiose announcement that we would no longer have to suffer with only 2 megabytes of storage space for the free accounts. Millions waited patiently for the “fall change” that never happened. Oh, it happened to a few people, but usually the squeaky wheel people who wanted to know “WHERE IS THE BEEF!” I sat and waited to see if my four accounts would beef up, including my one paid accounts which was supposed to go to up to 2 gigs. Here is the announcement I received on July 1, 2004 for the free accounts:

In addition to delivering world-class antivirus protection, you can also look forward to an upgrade in your storage capacity. In fact, you’ll receive 125 times your current email storage with the introduction of a 250 MB inbox as well as the ability to send attachments up to 10 MB.

Well, it is now November 4, 2004, and I still have only 2 MB in my accounts. Screw ’em.

Issue Two
Without warning, MSN/Hotmail closed my paid subscriber account. It took over a month of constant emails to customer support (which returned with form letters that the account was closed for justifiable reasons and they didn’t have to explain nothing to nobody), I finally got a human who told me that my account was closed because someone complained. I understood that they couldn’t tell me who or what or whatever, but they told me it was because I violated some indecency issue and because one person complained to Hotmail, it was an automatic shut down.

Now, I may cuss and swear and pontificate about what a loser and disaster Bush is, but I’m one of billions on the planet with the same opinion. I have friends who send me jokes (please don’t) about anti-Semitism (self-deprecating – the Jews have the best jokes against Jews), sex, penis jokes, and all kinds of things that even I, one of the least morally substantial people, feel is offensive. But only because they are time wasters. I almost NEVER forward them on to anyone because of the time-wasting-factor, unless I KNOW the recipient will adore the giggle. I don’t believe in blanketing the Internet with time-wasters in any form, so you won’t find me spreading around rumors, hoaxes, jokes, or spam. So what could POSSIBLY come out of my account to someone that would inspire an offense? Not a single one of my friends, and I have great honest friends who will tell me if there is a bugger hanging off my nose for all the world to see and never say anything about, admitted that the didn’t like something I sent.

What is even more bizarre is that whatever it was that was sent, went out while I was in the states taking care of my father practically full-time, and I didn’t have time to do much email other than “Hello, I’m in the states, I’m going crazy taking care of my sick father when I didn’t want to and this isn’t in the plans, and I’ll tell you more later, when I can.” So what could I have sent during that time period that could have been offensive, I’m clueless.

What is even more bizarre and upsetting about this whole thing is that Hotmail shut down my long standing paid account on only ONE incident. Come on, folks. ONE results in a closure. Isn’t that a little radical. So if I get pissed off at someone, I can send in a complaint to Hotmail and they will just willy nilly shut down there account, even if I’ve never gotten email from this person? I don’t know what the reporting process is, but closing down an account for one boo boo seems to be pretty nasty. Two, three, or 20 reports, then we’re talking about sinister, but ONE. I was informed there was only one complaint.

There is also no recourse. Of course, there wouldn’t be because it takes only one complaint and people could be going round in circles for years trying to get their account reopened on the basis of one complaint, and the protection of the complainer has to have priority (something they do very well at Hotmail, while the world is still persecuting raped women as the criminals) but still, there should be one equal attempt to justify behavior, especially on a paid account.

So fuck you, Hotmail. I have suffered plenty from you over the years with slow loading and bad filtering, and I’ve had tons of complaints against you and still stayed with you over the years. But one complaint against me and you shut me down and cause no end of misery at a time when I’m too busy taking care of my family while I’m supposed to be on vacation. Fuckers.

Issue Three
Microsoft’s MSN has been, like everyone else out there, damned and determined to stop the spamming and make the joy of email become joyful again instead of one battle after another. So they instituted a vicious anti-spamming tool to slap all of the spammers into a folder called “Junk Email” so you can just empty it and be free of the spammers.

Couple of problems with this. First of all, anyone who wasn’t on your contact list (and for those who keep our address book lists in Outlook Express and not on the Hotmail server – this means EVERYONE) gets shoved into the Junk Email folder. Problem is, everyone who isn’t on the list ends up there. Problem two is that if you don’t check the folder to see if someone who should be there is there, it is wiped clean every five days.

This is one of the BIG problems I have. When was the last time you took a week vacation, or even a four day vacation, and honestly had time to sit on the Internet during your travels to find out who is in you Junk Email box and take the necessary steps to remove them from the box so they don’t end up there in the future? Every four to five days? When I go on a four or five day vacation, I don’t have time to get to a computer, and if I do, I’m in a hurry. So emails that might be critical are wiped clean and gone forever if you don’t rush to your email within that 5 day period, which I found out isn’t a strict five days. It can be four days. More hassles.

You also can’t use Outlook or Outlook Express to your Junk Email folder to choose any of the options to remove someone from your spam list and make sure you get their emails in the future. You have to use the web browser. So you find a wanted email in your unwanted junk email folder in Outlook or Outlook Express, then you have to open a browser window and bring up Hotmail, which takes a long time to load as it is so graphically heavy and over coded, then put in password and username and wait some more. Then click on Mail, then Junk Email, select the “wanted email” (only one at a time – no group selections) and click on THIS IS NOT JUNK. You are given a couple of options to choose to categorize the email for future issues, and eventually you get back to the Junk Email window. The process, depending upon your connection, can take 30 seconds to 2 minutes per email. PAINFUL.

Brent and I use MailWasher to clean out the spam before it gets to us. It’s simple, easy, and we can blacklist a lot of the junk so it won’t show up again. Very simple to use. With Microsoft’s Hotmail Anti-Spam Enhanced Filter in place, we hardly get any spam listed in MailWasher. This would be great, but we also lose a LOT of good and wanted email because of this system.

So we had to manually go into Hotmail via the browser for each account and change the Spam Filter setting to LOW, which gets rid of the MOST horrific stuff but doesn’t use the enhancement that sweeps good email into the junk folder.

By the way, the Junk Email folder doesn’t show up in Outlook or Outlook Express. It comes in as Bulk Email.

Issue Four
No, I’m not even close to done bashing Hotmail.

Starting my new software to handle our blogs, I created a new account with Hotmail to accept questions and comments about the blogs via email. The process was the same as always, and I ended up with a 2 MB (not even the 250 MB promised in July) free account. I then went to Outlook Express and tried EVERYTHING to get the account to show up in Outlook Express but I only got errors. A little checking uncovered an announcement that MSN Hotmail will no longer be allowing free accounts to be used with Outlook or Outlook Express. Outlook has always HATED free email accounts and http accounts, but Outlook Express didn’t mind them. Now, they will be completely foreboden as of sometime Spring of 2005.

Their justification is that they have put so much effort into the anti-spamming techniques, that it just doesn’t work with Outlook or Outlook Express. That has different programming requirements and it won’t work. But if you pay for the service, you are given whatever magic recipe to make your paid subscriber Hotmail account work in Outlook or Outlook Express. As a paid subscriber, you get the full benefit of anti-spamming and easy-to-use Outlook and Outlook Express. Without it, you are back to the web, my friend, waiting for the tedious downloads of each MSN and Hotmail window, suffering the advertising and spam.

What I really believe is that by using Outlook or Outlook Express, you miss the advertising prominently displayed on your free Hotmail account. Advertisers weren’t happy about being invisible, so they are helping to put the pressure on. Money makes the world go ’round.

We gave some thought to changing to another email software program. I’ve been using Outlook and Outlook Express since its conception, and I’m tired of learning new programs every time I turn around. But this is still under consideration. The greatest part of using Outlook and Outlook Express for us as travelers is that we can grab and download the email we want and put it on our computer (Personal Folders – Inbox) and then disconnect from the Internet and read it offline. We’re heading back to life on the road in the trailer and I don’t know where our next Internet connection is going to come from and how long we will be able to stay online.

So there is my rant and rave about Hotmail. They are cutting off the freebies to the loss of long-time users of Microsoft products, not keeping their commitments to increasing storage space, rather discretionary about their closing accounts without warning, and a pain in the ass to work with, so they will soon be gone from our horizons in the Internet world.

And just a reminder, if you put our email address in as anything ending in Hotmail, please change it to lorelle@cameraontheroad.com or vanfossen@cameraontheroad.com or brent@cameraontheroad.com so we will hear from you when you email us. Thanks!

Tel Aviv, Israel

6 Comments

  • Patrick
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 11:54 | Permalink

    Do you have a contact # for Hotmail to speak to a live person?

  • Posted May 13, 2005 at 13:30 | Permalink

    If I did, I would have resolved this issue a long time ago, but there is no human being on the other end….well, sorta, but for Hotmail, you are left with robots. Sorry. ;-)

  • Ray
    Posted December 14, 2005 at 20:30 | Permalink

    Hahaha! Yet another Hotmail Hater! Lorelle VanFossen…YOU are not alone!

    Your rant is justified and warranted. Hotmail is a joke. But it IS free. Have you ever tried the free crapola at Yahoo! They only let me reply to one email from my free account with their el-stinko system. That’s it…one reply. No Forwarding, no replying, only reading and creating mail.

    Anyway, Hotmail promised me a 250MB account four months ago, yet as of today I still only have a 2 MB account. It loads super slow. The program only allows standard text (no font or color choices). It keeps saying that it will delete all (Inbox) mail after 30 days. Nope…that doesn’t happen.

    You’re so right about having your Favorite Contacts list updated at all times to avoid an inadvertant deletion, but get this…they placed one of my favorite contacts in the Junk Email folder after I had already added her to my Favorites. Whut up wit dat?

    And…
    I keep adding these Viagra JUNK Emails to the
    “…consider this to be SPAM from now on…” but they keep allowing them to come thru…daily~!

    I can’t wait to get cable back soon!

  • Ray
    Posted December 14, 2005 at 20:48 | Permalink

    Here is a good blog about Hotmail and Gmail. Just follow the link @
    http://www.ryanlowe.ca/blog/archives/001260_bye_bye_hotmail.php

    I forgot to add that doesn’t allow you to insert pictures into your email…it has to go as an attachment. It sucks.

  • Posted December 14, 2005 at 21:36 | Permalink

    The junk emails hit anyone with an email address. Spam catching software does away with them as does filtering by many email programs and services, though some sneak through anyway. This is life no matter what service you are on.

    I’ve left hotmail and even I get these with my site email service, though filtering helps.

    Hotmail made the announcement for the increase in storage space over a year ago and it took months for anything to happen, almost six months. I left just after they finally increased my email account size, already frustrated for other reasons as mentioned.

    Hotmail isn’t universal. If you are using it from the US, then you get special services faster than if you are registered via a European or other country. They take a long time to roll out all of their announcements, so take your business elsewhere if you are unhappy. There are a lot of choices out there.

    Still, free is good but paid is always better, unfortunately.

  • Ray
    Posted December 17, 2005 at 11:22 | Permalink

    WELL…I finally recieved my 250MB capacity from Hotmail. I wil never use that much, but at least they gave it to me.

    I ‘spose that I can now look forward to having my account closed because I added comments to this site…dissing Hotmail!

    Much luck,

    R

    P.S. Have you heard anything about Hotmail closing down?

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