Why do some people still pay for their email?

Hmm… Interesting question. Here’s a counter-question: Why wouldn’t you?

See, generally speaking, you don’t get something for nothing. And while you might think you do, there’s usually a cost.

Examples? Sure. For starters, let’s talk about your ISP’s “free” email account that they provide you (IF they provide one for you.) Is it free? Well, as someone else already pointed out, not really. You’re paying them for th

eir service. They’re throwing in the email account because it’s cheap and easy, but there’s still a cost. In fact, there’s a second, hidden cost. See, let’s say that one day, you decide you want to leave that ISP for a competitor. What now? Increasingly, your entire digital life is tied to your email account. Mailing lists, newsletters, etc., but also password recovery, and

identity management often go through your email. So, if you’ve got a comcast.net email address, and you want to switch to FiOS, what happens? Or let’s say you want to move someplace where the area cable Internet service provider is Cox or something, what do you do? Since everything for the past 10 years has been tied to your Comcast account, you’re in trouble. Now I don’t know how they handle it, but I can bet they won’t allow you to keep using that account for email if you’re not paying them something.

Now let’s switch over to something that’s ISP-independent… like Gmail or Yahoo! Those are great options because you’re no longer tied to a single ISP. You can move anywhere in the world, and still have access to your email. Perfect.

Or is it?

There are issues with that solution too. First, it’s not really free either. They invariably show you advertising, and it’s usually ads that are pertinent to your web usage, and email patterns. That means that they’re sharing at least some information with advertisers about you. Maybe not individually-identifiable information, but something.

But there’s also a second, even more important issue: You get ZERO support from them, if you’re not paying. If there’s a problem with your account, there is literally NOBODY that you can call for help. They aren’t beholden to you in any capacity, because you aren’t a paying customer. I recently had this happen to a client. She had a personal Gmail account that she used for a lot of things. Something got corrupted in her credentials – we’re still not sure what. Not only did her password stop working, but we were unable to recover the account, despite working through all the recovery steps. Nothing worked. That account is essentially dead,  and there is no one to call. The account is lost, and now we have to rebuild her digital life. BUT, if we’d had a paid account for her, everything would be different. She’d have an expectation of support because she was paying for it. And they would have provided it. No problem.

And that’s just for personal accounts. I know people who try to run their businesses using free Gmail accounts, and in my opinion, that’s CRAZY!! How can you run something as critical as your business, on a system you have no control over?!

So those are reasons TO use a paid email service:

  1. You may be paying anyway.
  2. You want things to be portable.
  3. You need the security of having Support.

Now… what was the question again?