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Thursday, April 13, 2006 

How SBC Yahoo/ATT screwed my Dad over

A few months ago, I unfortunately had to move back in with my parents. Once I noticed how slow their SBC Yahoo DSL was, I asked my Mom to get Optimum Online (local cable ISP). She did, then shortly after that was up and running we cancelled the DSL. At that time my Dad was using an SBC Yahoo mail account through Thunderbird as his email client. After canceling DSL, Thunderbird wouldn't connect to the POP server. But seeing as it was technically a Yahoo Mail account, I tried logging him in through the Yahoo Mail webpage. Success. At some point after that, his computer was infected with some malicious spyware or maybe even a virus, so I had to wipe eveything out. I didn't bother to backup his mail because it was now all online. Since it was just a stupid web based "free" email, I figured he could keep using it indefinitely ... I was wrong.
Within the last week he tried to log in, but it wouldn't let him. After a couple of days to see if it was a Yahoo problem, he called me to tell me that he can't get into his email. I tried from my Mac, since I know his password (I'm the one who set it up). Log in error. I tried to reset the password, thats when I got the page telling me the account was deactivated.
First, I combed through the Yahoo help pages ... useless. I sent them a message using their web form. They got back within a day and told me it was because the DSL had been cancelled and that I should contact SBC to clear any problem up. So I tried their live chat with a support rep. She let me know that there wasn't much she could do and that I should call their number and talk to someone directly.
I call the number she gave me. The voice activated menu system is all but useless due to the unique nature of my problem, but I manage to get through. After explaining the situation, the rep had to check with someone else. After a 5 minute wait, he finally came back and said the only way to reactivate the account is to order a dial-up service in order to keep the account active. Since that would require a contract, I told him no. It would be stupid to pay a monthly charge for essentially free email. I ask nicely one more time if it could just be reactivated for a couple of days so I could get my Dad's contacts at the very least. No luck.
Now my poor Dad is undergoing hip replacement surgery next week. He'd like to keep in contact with family and friends via email, but because Yahoo's stubbornness, he won't be able to do that.
Bottom line, if you can avoid it, DON'T USE YAHOO.


If it is a SBC Yahoo! Mail account (@sbcglobal.net) tied to your parent's paid account and you cancel it, it would make sense that that mail account would be cancelled. That's probably something SBC would have control over and not Yahoo!. However if it was the free Yahoo! account (@yahoo.com), not tied to a pay account through SBC, then I'd agree with you.

I have SBC Yahoo! and have taken great pains to not allow them to associate my free Yahoo! account with my broadband connection and the SBC Yahoo! account I pay for. All it takes is for me to move a few miles over into Verizon territory and I'd be SOL.

SBC/AT&T or Verizon DSL partner accounts are premium email accounts (aka Y! Mail Plus) that are directly linked to continuation of the service. They enable POP access (such as from T'bird) and offer 2GB of total storage (not including spam and trash folders). This is a $20/yr value.

When discontinuing the SBC relationship, one is also discontinuing the perks that come with it.

Yahoo! is not a one-dimensional company. They have several premium services so to assume "it was just a stupid web based "free" email, I figured he could keep using it indefinitely" was the flaw in your logic -- as you found out.

The correct move would be to set up a Y! Mail account that is not tied to any ISP relationship. If possible, upgrade to the $20/yr Y! Mail Plus level. From hereon, no matter what ISP is used, all will be as it was before.

This isn't Y!'s or SBC's fault. It's a case of giving advice before understanding the situation.

My best to your father with his surgery. He'll be running around like a little kid once he's healed.

I should clarify. This was a subaccount, the features were no different from that of a regular yahoo free mail account. And my issue is less that the account was deactivated, that was an oversight on my part. The run around and complete inability of anyone to reinstate a webmail account for a few days is just stupid. Its probably as easy as clicking a radio button, they just won't do it.


i found your solution, even still, this is most certainly not digg-worthy.

Yes, yes, I got him a Gmail account. Getting another webmail account isn't the problem here. Having access to his old messages is.

I don't mean to instigate, but is that a flickr link in your sidebar? How does that fit in to your whole "DON'T USE YAHOO" thing?

I had been using Flickr before Yahoo bought them, and any thoughts I might have entertained about getting a pro account there have vanished. I'm not giving Yahoo another dime.

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