Telecom has adopted a mercenary stance and will charge $20 per month to former customers (who have moved to other ISPs) to retain their Xtra email account. I have several issues with this:
- The cost to service these accounts is less than $2 per month, even if outsourced completely. While Yahoo.com offers free accounts, they can be upgraded to Mail Plus accounts for US$20 per year. I would imagine Telecom can negotiate a bulk discount. I also trust (and hope) that the $20 fee is applying to a version similar to the US paid version rather than the free version.
- The cost of offering an email forwarding service is essentially $0 per account.
- The people most affected are those who have not migrated to an independent email service, who self-define as those who are less technical or internet savvy. They may find it easier to pay the $20/month rather than to perform the technical dance required to migrate to another email address. It’s not just themselves to change, but all of their friends and family who need to change the email address they send to. As this group would skew towards older people, and the less educated, and this task may be very difficult for some.
- The affected population is also skewed towards those who are the least able to afford the $240 per year fee, a considerable amount for anyone regardless.
The threat of a fee will be used as a weapon to prevent migration away from the dominant Xtra ISP, and given the ridiculous size of the fee it feels like Telecom is exercising legacy muscle that their market dominance gave to them. This matter is apparently before the Commerce Commission.
I’ve written about this before. This is another great reason for never becoming dependant upon an ISP provided email address. I suggest never setting them up in the first place.
I’d also suggest migrating away from yahoo, gmail or hotmail accounts, and move directly to your own name:
Setting up your own email
Setting up your email address using your own name means you will forever have the choice of which email service to use. Here’s one easy way to do it:
1: Find and register a domain name. I use IWantMyName.co.nz*, who make it a spam-free and very very simple. Select a .nz domain name (e.g. lancewiggs.co.nz or lancewiggs.kiwi.nz) for the extra protection and due process that the New Zealand DNC provides. Your own .nz domain name costs around $30 per year including GST.
2: When you have purchased a domain name, click on “Domains” and choose “Install new service”. Choose Google Apps.
3: Follow the instructions to install Gmail (don’t worry about the other stuff). There are a couple of places where the IWantMyName instructions differ from the Google process, but overall this is really easy and free. Just keep clicking next if in doubt.
There is a delay built into the process as the records updated by IWantMyName will take time to propagate through.
4: Test your new email service, and when you are comfortable then start using it as your primary email. Forward all of your Xtra email to your new address, and tell your friends about the change. Encourage them to do the same.
If your email is set up using a local program like Exchange or Apple Mail, then use Google’ instructions to set up the new account there too. (POP or IMAP). If you use the Xtra web interface then you should enjoy the switch to Google’s web mail.
5: As a bonus: Go to WordPress.com and set up your own website under your new domain name. It’s also just a few dollars a year.
*I have no interest in iwantmyname. I am an elected councillor for InternetNZ, a non-profit incorporated society which has the delegated mandate for .nz. Join today.