Technical Misadventures with Yahoo!Xtra Bubble service

I have two e-mail accounts with Xtra, and it was recently brought to my attention that they had “upgraded” their system.

I went to log in to my Xtra e-mail, a relatively painless process for the last few years. I was confronted with a login screen and was relieved as I had read they had made some major upgrades that had had major impacts on customer’s services.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. I was then told that my web browser was rare, or something to that effect and that I would not get the optimum service with the browser I was using (Safari on the Mac). I chose to ignore this message, and continued on.

I was then introduced to what seems like a 5 step process:

1) Register
2) Download
3) Personalise
4) Summary
5) Get Online

Why do I have to go through this process to check my webmail? Something that should be a simple process which has just become seemingly impossible, inconvenient and annoying.

I was asked to enter my basic details – e-mail address, name and phone number. Despite entering this information correctly, I was given the following error messages:

Yahoo rubbish

Despite reentering the information again and again I realised I was not getting anywhere. So I switched over to Firefox for the Mac.

After the connection to Yahoo timed out, giving me an error message, I tried again and was confronted with the same page “Tell us about yourself” (I am a customer of yours why do I need to tell you about myself when all I want to do is check my personal e-mail?)

As the details were pre-filled, I pressed the “Continue” button. Once this was eventually processed, this time I was presented with a page asking me to confirm my identity. Ironically, the page is titled “Help us help you”. One would have thought the best way they could help us is to not require this sort of re-registration process to check our e-mails.

Another wait while the new “improved” Yahoo!Xtra service had a think about my security question and date of birth. Note at this stage I am still on “Step 1″ as described above and have been trying to check my webmail for 30 minutes now.

Success! Yahoo has processed this information and takes me to the next page! Which is empty…

I try to refresh the page to resolve this issue, and come back to my original issue on Safari, with some more errors thrown in for good measure:
yahoo rubbish

Pressing the “Continue” button again, I get an error message…again. And again. And again. I cannot use my e-mail.

35 minutes and counting, I am reluctant to continue but want to check my personal e-mail. So time to resort to Windows.

Going into Windows and logging in, I am first asked whether I want to add “sub accounts” for my family, a significantly different message from that I had on the mac. But I am not onto “Step 2 – Download” so at least we are making progress.

I now have to download “Yahoo Bubble” to check my e-mail. Redundant, more time and heavy on reducing usability. Seems to be the only way for me to check e-mail so I am going for it. Have now been spending 45 minutes on this.

I am now asked Whether I want Typical setup (which installs software i neither want nor need), or the custom setup “Advanced users only”. Custom setup lets me install neither of these pieces of software, so I select this option.

I agree to yet another software agreement, which prints to a record 26 pages. Who is going to read this?

Am asked some more questions, after which I wait for the next page to come up for a few minutes. At this point it seems like I almost might be at the end of this ordeal.

I am logged in, and faced with lots of information irrelevant to my e-mail – which is what the webmail was for in the first place. I see a small item on the left marked as “Mail”, and click on it.

Voila! I have been invited to try the “ALL-NEW Yahoo!Xtra Pro MAIL”. There is an image on this page, which I wait another few minutes to load.

more yahoo rubbish

Not wanting to get into more time wasting exercises (I am now up to 1 hour of this process), I decline this “to be missed” opportunity.

I have finally been able to enter webmail. Now that I’ve gone through this experience, I get to do it all over again for my other Xtra e-mail account – looking forward to it.

Regrettably, many NZ companies rely on Xtra e-mail for their business correspondence. Imagine having to go through this sort of process in the middle of a busy working day to check your e-mail via webmail? Telecom is certainly not making any friends with this sort of time wasting rubbish.

Telecom Xtra has an infamous history of making it difficult to do business using their services. Our customers cannot send e-mail through our servers if they are Xtra customers (they block our service to our customers), e-mails get lost (up to 50% of international e-mail), and service is slow. Such a big company should be setting an example rather than using their size to stifle competition and service levels.

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