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Old 20 Jan 2017, 03:42 AM   #76
jchevali
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Unhappy

Quote:
Originally Posted by samhu View Post
Therein lies the crux of the issue that we, as "one-time-payment Fastmail Member account" folk, have our gripe. Fastmail has not "gone". And the offer to join at Member level was clearly stated - "a Member account for a US$14.95 one-time fee". Fastmail choosing for whatever reason it (or its fans) give to not uphold this commitment is at best underhand, at worst, illegal.
It's the same that StreetCar, a London-based car club company, did to their founding members, me included, years ago. We helped get the company started, and the deal was we would be retained as members who'd pay no annual fee as an annual fee became mandatory for new members. We'd still pay the same car hire rates as anyone else. But for some reason (probably usage was lower among founding members than new members, or we weren't financially attractive), StreetCar tried as they could to get rid of us, many resisting, and finally they forced the last ones out. Shortly afterwards, they sold to ZipCar.

Similar also though not identical the YHA Youth Hostels Association in England. They sold very expensive life membership years ago, I remember mine cost £390. While they have not reneged on the deal, in the years that followed they closed plenty of hostels that weren't economical, most in secluded and idyllic locations. The network isn't near as good now as it was then, and now other independent hostels chains are better value.

I suppose nothing good lasts forever, and $FM isn't an exception. And stuff that runs on promises or ideals has a short shelf life. The sharing economy and all that... specialized email services and all that... a façade for entrepreneurs to attract enthusiasts and carve up a niche, then after they're successful, they forget. It's the same everywhere.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 04:01 AM   #77
placebo
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Originally Posted by Pfolson View Post
In a mere fraction of the time that it's taken certain people to compose and post their numerous long-winded, self-pitying complaints, they could have opened new accounts at the service of their choice, migrated all of their mail from FastMail to the new provider, and sent out notifications to all their contacts informing them of their new address -- and still had time to spare. But for some reason they would rather spend their precious minutes (hours in some cases) shouting and pouting and making nonsensical arguments. If there were Academy Awards for "Most Over The Top Performance," we would have some real frontrunners here.
If only it were that simple. I've changed my primary e-mail address before, and it's a lot more work than simply informing some people of your new address. I've done it in the past, and I can understand why some people might want to avoid the process like the plague. (It's certainly doable, though.)

I long ago upgraded from my member account, but I think FastMail is in the wrong here. The company did sell its service touting a lifetime address, and it needs to stick by its promise. It didn't sell a "lifetime on the internet" address; it sold accounts with the promise that the address would belong to the user for as long as he or she wanted. FastMail may now see its past decision as a mistake, but it just needs to suck it up and own up to it.

The company is, of course, free to encourage legacy member account holders to move to its new offerings. Its current offer is more than generous. Still, the company needs to accommodate those who don't want to switch and keep their e-mail address. Arguments that doing so would be impractical don't really fly. FastMail could certainly implement forwarding, for example. It might be somewhat of a pain for the company to do this, but that's not really the users' problem.

Finally, like many others, I do find much of the b****ing and moaning to be excessive and tiresome. FastMail isn't out to screw some of its users over. I think most of us understand the company's motivations, and the complainers might consider letting FastMail off the hook for a naive promise made 15 years ago. You got your $15 worth of service, and your over-the-top complaints do little to persuade anyone of anything other than an overblown sense of entitlement.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 04:03 AM   #78
neoforum
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In a mere fraction of the time... they could have opened new accounts at the service of their choice, migrated all of their mail from FastMail to the new provider, and sent out notifications to all their contacts informing them of their new address
That doesn't solve the problem of people who had my address years ago who I'm no longer in touch with who might move back to town and try to write me.

About 10 years ago I stopped using a mail.com address that I had, and I *still* occasionally get personal emails there from friends who had that address, including from people I've told about my new address several times. Some people just aren't very good at keeping track of everyone else's current email addresses.

I never said it was *technically* difficult to change email addresses. If you really think it's so easy, you wouldn't hesitate to take me up on my challenge to do it yourself, or send me $30/year. I bet you could both change your own primary email address *and* send me $30 in barely more time than it took you to write that message. But you won't, not because it's difficult to do, but because it would be a big pain for you going forward.

Quote:
I personally pay much more than US$30 per year for my critical email addresses. I understand email is not sufficiently important to you to consider stumping up $0.08 per day, but I rely on it.
Email is very important to me. Good job imagining what it's like for people who aren't as flush as yourself. And, you might consider that even for people for whom $30/year is no big deal, most wouldn't feel good about having to start paying again for something they already bought. If you consider $0.08 per day to be an insignificant amount, my wife and I would welcome your gifts of $30/year. But really I don't want your money, because I don't want to send it on to fastmail and reward them for breaking their promise. I want fastmail to keep their promise.

I suppose you don't mind when people break their promises to you and wouldn't mind paying money to people who had broken a promise? Hey, remember yesterday I offered to send you a cookie today if you you gave me $0.10, so you did? Oops, I got busy and decided I don't have time, so I'm breaking my promise. Sorry about that. But tell you what, why don't you give me $3 now, and then it will be worth it to me to send you that cookie that I already promised you. It's not like $3 will break your budget. Do you feel like sending me that $3? No? I can't imagine why.

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This is pure emotionalism and nonsense.
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I disagree. Dementia is a real illness and it's perfectly possible elderly people with dementia will not take up a new address even if given to them.
Thank you, samhu. My mom had dementia toward the end of her life and she (with my help) had been using a fastmail email address for around 10 years before she died. In her last couple of years, she was still able to log herself in and enjoyed reading her email, but she wouldn't have been able to remember a new email address. And unlike me, she definitely wouldn't have felt able to afford paying to keep it.

Last edited by neoforum : 20 Jan 2017 at 04:56 AM.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 05:44 AM   #79
BritTim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neoforum View Post
Email is very important to me. Good job imagining what it's like for people who aren't as flush as yourself..
I am not wealthy, but I expect to pay about $20 per month for Internet access, $500 every 4-5 years on a new computer, and US$200 every 3-4 years on a new phone. Spending around US$8 per month for the most important application I use those for seems prudent to me.

If I had failed to take out insurance in the form of my first personal domain around 15 years ago, I would not have the problem of being unable to contact people with my old email address, except those who have lost their old addresses and failed to inform me. I have all the email addresses of everyone who has sent email to me since I first had email about 20 years ago. In most cases, the email itself is archived, though some over 10 years old is on backup disks, and would be painful to access. My main problem is trying to remember who half of those people are!
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 12:39 PM   #80
samhu
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Conflicting and Irreconcilable

It seems to me that through all the static, this discussion boils down to two conflicting (and irreconcilable) views

1) Those of "one-time payment" Members, who feel that Fastmail is obligated to uphold the pledge it made during its formative years by continuing to stand by the service it promoted and sold. Additionally, what Fastmail proposes will, through no fault of these Members, result in them incurring a recurring charge for the continued use of Fastmail, or the inconvenience of abandoning an email address they have used for 8-15 years.

2) Those from people who are not "one-time payment" Members who, by choice, have been paying a subscription for their email service in one form or other and feel that it is fair for Members to start paying for their Fastmail service, and that if they don't want to do so, can, without much effort, complete the process of informing contacts/organizations of their impending email address change and move quietly on.

There is also a small fraction who insists that if one really wanted to ensure email address continuity, getting one’s own domain is the only way to go. These savvy folk seem to not see that only a tiny fraction of email users even know what that is, let alone choose to do so when they start using email. Just look into a typical address book; how many personal domain name email addresses do you see in it?

And speaking about fractions, it has dawned on me that if the discussion about the ending of the classical interface (which started the same time as this one and which on Page 4 states only 1-2 percent use regularly) can garner over twice the number of replies this thread has, we may well be talking about an even smaller fraction of Fastmail users still on a "one-time payment" legacy account. (Not a valid conclusion if Fastmail has not yet informed many legacy Members of the impending change).

Anyway, as we are not privy to how many such legacy accounts there are out there, here's a bit of speculation on my part. Pick a number - 1000? 5000? At the lower number, the sum involved would be USD3k/month, and at the higher end, USD15k/month. And that's with a 100 percent conversion rate from "one-time payment" to "subscriber". If this amount is so critical to Fastmail, maybe we all shouldn’t be so smug about the longevity of any of our Fastmail email addresses? Just a thought.

Last edited by samhu : 20 Jan 2017 at 03:46 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 01:00 PM   #81
wakaba
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Originally Posted by samhu View Post
Anyway, as we are not privy to how many such legacy accounts there are out there, here's a bit of speculation on my part. Pick a number - 1000? 5000? At the lower number, the sum involved would be USD3k/month, and at the higher end, USD15k/month. And that's with a 100 percent conversion rate from "one-time payment" to "subscriber". If this amount is so critical to Fastmail, maybe we all shouldn’t be so smug about the longevity of any of our Fastmail email addresses. Just a thought.
Notice the absurd premise that Fastmail should only discontinue member accounts if not doing so would have fatal consequences for Fastmail. The degree of entitlement is remarkably audacious.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 01:22 PM   #82
wakaba
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My other two cents: I have learned from bitter experience that the only reason to trust in the continued operation of a product or service is because the product/service is sustainable and profitable as an ongoing concern.

I use Fastmail, and I trust that they will continue to provide a quality product, not because I take on faith any promises that Fastmail staff have made in the past. Instead, I do so because I believe they have a sustainable business model, because Fastmail's key staff are passionate about the product, and because Fastmail as a whole has the right incentives to continue development and innovation.

My email is very important to me, and as such I am very happy to continue paying a substantial amount for it -- after all, such an arrangement aligns Fastmail's incentives with my priorities.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 02:18 PM   #83
walpurg
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Originally Posted by jhollington View Post
The problem is there's a huge philosophical gulf between the group of happily-paying annual FastMail members and the legacy "Member" users, and it's probably difficult to bridge that gap between those who feel that an e-mail address and account borders on being a basic right and those who feel that anything important is worth paying to get done properly. I'm not even saying that one philosophy is more correct than the other — merely that it's hard for one side to really understand where the other is coming from.
(The following isn't necessarily directed at the author of this quote in particular, I just picked it as a summation of sorts of what several members have been saying.)

Actually, the philosophical gulf here is between those who feel that when you voluntarily offer something as part of a contract, it's not OK to reneg on it later just because you changed your mind, and those who see nothing wrong with "hooking" people or raising funds with an attractive promise and then later going back on it because "Internet time" is somehow different, or some other hand-waving excuse. It's not very fair to treat the customers complaining here as "unreasonable" because they in good faith chose to take up this promise over other alternatives they may have had - and at the same time defend as "understandable" the actions of the company who (voluntarily!) made said promise and now wants to weasel out.

Just so we're clear, I don't have a Member level account and I absolutely don't mind paying yearly for FM service and have been doing just that for more than a decade. But, I also happen to believe that it's not right to break promises to customers, especially not over reasons as nebulous as "we have decided to no longer support this account type to help simplify our internal architecture".

I'd love to hear what exactly this simplification entails and why it is in fact necessary, because right now this is just using technical-sounding language to justify what looks very much like a business decision. I think this may well be what's so upsetting to those affected - that this is apparently being done "just because", without any obvious reason that people could weigh. We know these accounts are lightweight in terms of resources and FM says there's a "limited number" of them left, so what exactly is the problem with keeping them around? This is more difficult to fathom than the shuttering of the Classic interface, because while Classic reportedly takes 20% of developer time to maintain and has an evident architectural impact, Member accounts are accounts like any other, with no obvious overhead like that. Or am missing something big here?

Last edited by walpurg : 20 Jan 2017 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 02:51 PM   #84
neoforum
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Actually, the philosophical gulf here is between those who feel that when you voluntarily offer something as part of a contract, it's not OK to reneg on it later just because you changed your mind, and those who see nothing wrong with "hooking" people or raising funds with an attractive promise and then later going back on it
Thank you for stating this so clearly and in what is probably a less inflammatory tone than I've done. Do you know how to get the attention of the people who work at fastmail?
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 02:51 PM   #85
krimlin
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Can you help me to understand this discussion?
I went to archive.org and had a look at those "member" plans. Are we talking about those 15 USD accounts with 16 MB (!) that are going to be canceled?
Although I wouldn't know what to do with 16 MB storage and I don't have Fastmail's statistics on the usage of these accounts, it would be obvious for me, that they can't cause a high server load. I assume that these accounts are just an additional "plan", like "enhanced" or "full" or the new ones like "standard" etc., so I don't really get the point of additional infrastructure needed to maintain them. Or why they would slow down innovation...
Personally, if the internal numbers for these accounts aren't significantly different than my assumptions named above, I would just let them stay. It's obvious for me, that people who are fine with such small accounts for almost a decade, won't start to pay for something else, but just go away to a free alternative.

Also, I think that the explanation on the Fastmail site for discontinuing these accounts is pretty bad.
However, as a consumer I am always aware of the fact that there is nothing like a "lifetime account" with any company.

So, as a conclusion: I use an "enhanced" account since 2009 and I'm pretty happy with the service. There were times when FM was a really small team, then they "went" to Norway, now they are independent again and actually expanding and buying other services. But unfortunately, there were always situations with extremely bad comminication towards customers (reliability issues, or when they introduced the new interface, to name just two), and I think that this again is a bad example, although it only affects a few users. I think that it's a technically super-skilled team, but I have to accept that there might be desisions I won't be happy with any time in the near or far future, if I continue to use Fastmail. And this is also a part of "reliability" when I decide to renew my account or not :-|
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 03:39 PM   #86
BritTim
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Originally Posted by krimlin View Post
Can you help me to understand this discussion?
I went to archive.org and had a look at those "member" plans. Are we talking about those 15 USD accounts with 16 MB (!) that are going to be canceled?
Although I wouldn't know what to do with 16 MB storage and I don't have Fastmail's statistics on the usage of these accounts, it would be obvious for me, that they can't cause a high server load. I assume that these accounts are just an additional "plan", like "enhanced" or "full" or the new ones like "standard" etc., so I don't really get the point of additional infrastructure needed to maintain them. Or why they would slow down innovation...|
I do not think the issue with supporting the old Member accounts is hardware resources. I think it is the fact that, as far as possible, they want to limit functionality to that available when Member accounts were discontinued. Examples of these restrictions are no POP3, no support (the idea was that documentation and this forum would be the only assistance when things go wrong), very limited spam protection, limitations on usernames and numbers of aliases, smaller attachment sizes, enforcement of smaller quotas (for instance, hourly transfer and message volumes), and number of allowed Personalities (Identities). There are others. Individually, these are no big deal. However, cumulatively, they add substantially to special case paths in the code (both on the front and back ends).

I agree with those who feel that there was an (admittedly misguided) implied promise to support these Member accounts for as long as Fastmail remained in business. If there are only a few left, maybe upgrading much of their functionality is one way of reducing code complexity surrounding their support. However, I can see why Fastmail emotionally hates the idea of improving further a deal they feel is already unfairly tilted against Fastmail.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 03:58 PM   #87
Terry
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Why do they have to do anything just make them into normal accounts then no extra coding would be required, unfortunately they made them almost unusable hoping to get people to stop using them, and in my case it worked.

Fastmail claim there are not many customers involved, so really there would be no major financially loss.

Last edited by Terry : 20 Jan 2017 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 05:02 PM   #88
walpurg
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Originally Posted by BritTim View Post
Examples of these restrictions are no POP3, no support (the idea was that documentation and this forum would be the only assistance when things go wrong), very limited spam protection, limitations on usernames and numbers of aliases, smaller attachment sizes, enforcement of smaller quotas (for instance, hourly transfer and message volumes), and number of allowed Personalities (Identities). There are others. Individually, these are no big deal. However, cumulatively, they add substantially to special case paths in the code (both on the front and back ends).
These sound like standard settings to me, so I don't really see what special code paths they would entail, and in any case this code has to have been developed already for both the JS UI and the server side. "It's driving us nuts that a different settings box is checked for you so we have to cut you off" would be a rather odd reason for doing this.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 05:33 PM   #89
BritTim
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Originally Posted by walpurg View Post
These sound like standard settings to me, so I don't really see what special code paths they would entail, and in any case this code has to have been developed already for both the JS UI and the server side. "It's driving us nuts that a different settings box is checked for you so we have to cut you off" would be a rather odd reason for doing this.
As I said, it is the cumulative effort, rather than enforcing individual restrictions, that is the issue, especially maintaining them as the service is enhanced over time. However, to show an inkling of what is involved, let's just look at one isolated example.

Member accounts are not eligible for advanced spam filtering. Fine, you say, just a simple switch: do it or do not. It is not quite so simple. Yes, checking whether SpamAssassin should be called, bypassing the relevant code is pretty easy, but what of the supporting code in sieve scripts? There is a whole section in sieve script creation and editing that needs some sensitivity to whether spam checking is being done. This needs maintaining as the code in that area changes. There is also code around recognizing if the sender of emails is in the user's address book, and whether DMARC checks for the sender pass. To avoid upgrading the Member account experience, these also need to be suppressed. Then there is a part of the user interface around spam settings. These ought to be disabled. Nothing horrendous, but it adds up. If these special cases are for 0.1% of the user base (my guess) they are seriously annoying.

Maybe, as I said in an earlier post, the pragmatic solution is just to upgrade the Member account experience when keeping separate code paths requires anything other than negligible maintenance. Emotionally, I appreciate why Fastmail just hates doing that, knowing they are making a deal already tilted heavily in the users' favor, even less fair (from Fastmail's point of view) as time passes.
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Old 20 Jan 2017, 06:00 PM   #90
walpurg
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@BritTim
Assuming it's a 0.1% situation as you've supposed, FM would have to be a real princess to have this deep emotional problem with implementing your idea.
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