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JULY 7, 2008   

When good email goes bad

I love email. I use it to stay in touch with friends and colleagues and build my professional network. I check it obsessively. I depend on it. So when it fails, that's a big problem.

We've been planning a trip to Europe, arranging to visit friends and finding B&Bs to stay at. A couple of days ago we began to worry because everyone seemed to be ignoring our emails. The friends who'd invited us to stay with them weren't telling us that the day we planned to arrive was OK. The B&B in Amsterdam that sounded perfect wasn't confirming our request for a room. I called them on the phone and they promised to send a registration form in a couple of hours. A day later, nothing.

Finally this morning the obvious answer hit me: people were sending emails, but we weren't getting them. I remembered that a friend in Russia and another in Germany had complained that emails sent to my sbcglobal.net address didn't go through. Maybe that was happening to others. So I re-contacted everyone using a Gmail account I'd set up as a back-up.

Emails related to trip to Germany and SwitzerlandSure enough, within a couple of hours the friends wrote—using my Gmail address—that their earlier emails had been bouncing back, as did the B&B owner who'd tried three times.

By the end of the day I'd heard from everyone on my list. Big sigh of relief.

So, the moral of the story? I'm not sure. SBCGlobal.net sucks? Maybe. Or maybe the lesson is to always have more than one email account. By most reports, Gmail—another Google service—is a good choice. A lot of folks I know have switched completely to Gmail because of problems with the email provided by their web provider. I may join them soon.

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