Gmail Failure

Posted on June 14, 2008  Comments (7)

I really liked Gmail. Today Google has blocked me from accessing my email. I do nothing that remotely could be considered suspicious behavior. Yet without any preliminary warnings Gmail just blocked my access to email and provides only the following.

Gmail refuses access to account

While this might not be evil it is extremely bad service. Email users need to trust providers to provide reliable service. To act with integrity, etc.. When instead they take unilateral, immediate action with no significant response one can only draw the conclusion that they are dealing with another Verizon or Comcast or the long litany of companies that cannot be trusted to treat you well or even remotely fairly.

They do provide a form to fill out, which I have done. They responded with the following: “Thanks for your report. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience. For your security, we may temporarily disable access to your account if our system detects abnormal usage. It will take between one minute and 24 hours for you to regain access, depending on the behavior our system detected.”

Not really clear is it? I still have no access. Google’s “mission”: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” How about making clear the information that Google itself says it has detected, this “abnormal usage.” Have they even made that information “accessible and useful.” No they have not. Google choosing to break Gmail access without notice and without explanation and even after questioning still providing no real explanation seems like a very serious threat to users of Gmail. Google seems to believe that breaking access to Gmail is not something they need to even know why they are doing it. I would say a policy that makes Gmail unreliable for users threatens to send users to a provider that does not chose to act in such a way. This seems like a very bad policy on Google’s part.

This is so frustrating, I actually liked gmail. But I guess I will have to look for a reliable provider unless Google can actually provide an explanation of how they will change to actually provide reliable email services.

My account is back now. Maybe it was down for an hour. Which, frankly, if it had been a technical glitch I would have been fine with. That it was a policy decision to break access without notice or explanation I find extremely worrying, however. How am I suppose to trust that they will not do so at any point in the future. If they send me some explanation of this choice to disable my account temporarily, I will update this post.

Related: Good customer service (why is it so rare)Poor Customer Service from Discover CardGoogle Video Customer ServiceGoogle Customer ServiceWhy is Customer Service So Bad?

7 Responses to “Gmail Failure”

  1. Thomas Wright
    June 15th, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

    This happened to a friend of mine last year. They never got an explanation or anything.
    I’m so dependent on gmail (and more generally google apps) that I can’t imagine being cut off…

  2. Ankur
    June 17th, 2008 @ 4:42 pm

    This is the first time I have seen Google suspending a GMAIL account like this

  3. Anonymous
    June 18th, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

    You can never get a person when you email for help on any number of subjects from their email to Adsense. This is very bad customer service. All you get are canned emails.

  4. Paul Fearn
    June 20th, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

    Google Apps provides so much functionality that you are bound to become fully reliant on it. POP3 support, IMAP support, and with so much storage space… I wonder if the paid for ‘Premier Edition’ of Google Aps would cut you off if abnormal usage was detected? Perhaps they will introduce a paid for version of gmail.

  5. If you are using GMail for important stuff, don’t!
    October 19th, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

    Get a reliable email service that is unrelated to GMail or Google. Google is redefining the meaning of capricious and is known to shut down GMail accounts without cause or explanation…

  6. Phao Loo
    November 1st, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

    I always use Thunderbird to check Gmail. But yesterday, I cann’t access my account, when sign in by browser, I’ve got the same message. I lost a lot email now.

  7. Chi
    November 7th, 2008 @ 8:28 pm

    This happened to me around the same time as well. I never received that “unusual activity” message but one day I went into my email (I typically keep it open in my browser) and it kicked it off. Okay…not a big deal. I’ll just log back on. Well, tried that and it basically didn’t accept my password. From there it was ALL nightmare. I went into circles with the google “help” forum with no prevail. I now have a new email address but man…I lost everything. My contacts, prior emails, etc, etc. I literally had a panic attack cause I felt as if I lost all contact with the world. Reluctantly, my “new” email address is a gmail account. I seriously hope this will not happen again.

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