You may recall that when Kevin O’Brien and I talked about the sale of ISN to Eastlink back in January, Kevin suggested that ISN customers with “@isn.net” email addresses would be able to take them forward to Eastlink. I’ve talked with Kevin since, and he’s confirmed that this was his understanding at the time, based on conversations he’d had with Eastlink about this specific issue.
Over the years that ISN was an independent ISP, Kevin often needed to convince prospective customers that they weren’t taking a risk by moving to ISN, and one of the ways he did this was by reassuring them that, even if they left ISN, the company would forward their email for them. ISN didn’t have to do this — indeed locking customers into an email address is one of the tricks that many ISPs use to ensure they retain their customers. But Kevin’s sense of fairness trumped any business need to ensnare customers, and so the policy stood (I think if Kevin were writing this he might say something about “not wanting to have customers that didn’t want to be customers.”)
The sale to Eastlink went through, and the transition is now rolling out. And this week ISN customers got an email telling them, contrary to what they may have understood, their “@isn.net” email address is going to be deactivated and replaced with an “@eastlink.ca” address. As I understand it, the deadline for this is April 15, 2008.
There’s nothing on the new Eastlink-branded ISN home page about this.
This morning at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market I had conversations with two vendors, both longtime customers of ISN, who were up in arms about what to do about being forced to change their longstanding email addresses; one of them was in a situation where his ISN email address is one of the cornerstones of his business, and is printed on brochures and business cards and has been widely distributed for a long, long time.
While it may be unreasonable to expect Eastlink to keep the ISN domain alive forever, expecting customers, many of whom have had an “@isn.net” email address for more than 10 years, to change their address with 30 days notice is simply bad customer service. There’s no technical reason they need to do this: while it would make their transition more difficult technically, keeping the isn.net domain alive to receive and forward email is an essentially simple technical exercise, and something that Eastlink should, if only as a matter of common courtesy and a gesture of goodwill to the ISN customers they’re adopting, proceed with.
If you’re a former customer of ISN, and it’s going to cause you problems to give up your email address with such short notice, here’s what I recommend you do:
- Call Eastlink’s office in Charlottetown (367-2800) or Summerside (724-2800) and ask to speak to a Manager, and let them know that you think it’s unreasonable for them to ask you to change your email address with 30 days notice.
- Send an email to Eastlink expressing your displeasure: Mike Corkum is their “Director of Consumer Sales.”
In either case, you can let Eastlink know that, if you’re going to have to change your email address anyway, you might as well consider changing your Internet provide to Aliant while you’re at it.
You may also want to start the process of getting your own domain name for your email just to ensure you don’t get stung this way again. I’ve had a few questions about the specifics of this process, and I’m considering offering a brief lunchtime seminar next week for those interested in seeing the process walked through and getting any questions answered face to face; let me know if you’d be interested in this.
I have every confidence that, if they hear loud and clear from ISN customers, Eastlink will come to their senses and realize this is bad customer service and not a way to treat the devoted customers they’re inheriting.