The Internet has been buzzing in the last week with angry Yahoo Mail users, who discovered the email service they have been using has changed, adopting a look and feel similar to that of Google's Gmail. Many have taken to the Internet to vent their frustration.
“The first time I saw this I thought I had some kind of virus,” reports Lucille, of Heathsville, Va. It looked completely different. New emails with the same subject line as an old email doesn't show up on a new line, but rather is connected to the old emails. It's easy to miss something.”
That's something Gmail users have always had to deal with. And indeed, the Yahoo Mail program now looks a lot like Gmail, which might not be surprising since CEO Marissa Mayer came over from Google.
Yahoo Mail user Jan Hyatt, of Severna Park, Md., says she chose Yahoo for her email because she didn't like Gmail. Angered by the change, Hyatt has submitted a petition for Change.org, calling on the company to go back to the old interface.
“Many of us have used Yahoo mail for over a decade,” the petition reads. “It's been reliable, functional and served the needs of a wide variety of people - for personal and business use. Yahoo has changed it, taking away the ability to organize emails, switch from writing to reading emails without losing work, incorporating ads into the inbox (that, if clicked on by mistake, lead to spam websites) and hiding essential functions, like printing.”
Hyatt says, under the new system, years of emails are disappearing, contact lists are being deleted, orders are disappearing before they can be filled and, in at least one case, a flight squadron couldn't get flight plans.
"Yahoo Mail no longer works," Hyatt said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. "I hear from users who have already moved to other providers or front-ends, and from many others who are looking at options to move as well."
Donald, a ConsumerAffairs reader, insists the change has made Yahoo Mail “almost worthless.”
“Compared to Classic or even the previous version, it it dysfunctional,” he writes. “You might say it is 'void and without form.' It is like stepping back into the stone age.”
Upset Yahoo Mail users quickly found a home on Facebook, setting up a group called Yahoo's New Mail Fail – Open letter to Marissa Mayer.
“They made a grave mistake alienating their customer base - we should be their best marketing tool, but now the word-of-mouth is their worst,” wrote one member, identified as Tina Vozick.
While the vast majority of Yahoo Mail users pay nothing, Vozick said she is a paying customer, getting certain added features on her Yahoo Mail account.
“I will leave when I can figure out how to get my message history,” Vozick writes. “It's business, Marissa - you should understand that.”
Despite the heated criticism, Yahoo said there are plenty of users who like the new interface. It says the changes were designed to provide users with a more modern and personalized experience.
"As with any significant product change, it is typical to see varied reaction, particularly in the beginning and with products that have a large user base,” a Yahoo spokesperson said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “The level of response we are seeing is in line with previous releases and we've heard from many users that they are enjoying the new experience. For users who need help navigating the new Yahoo Mail, we have a dedicated customer care team in place, as well as help pages that provide details on specific features.”
Even so, the spokesperson added that user feedback is extremely important and “we are actively listening to our users and will continue to iterate on our products to provide the best user experience possible."
By Monday the Facebook page was offering members advice on switching to another email provider. A member identified as David Borgioli said he has been using Mail.com and GMX.com for about a week, which is not enough time, he says, to tell which is superior. The major task, he writes, is transferring all those Yahoo emails to the new service.
“To get my mail from the folders, I created duplicate folders in both Mail.com and GMX.com,” he writes. “I also created a folder in each called Inbox Two. I moved all mail from the inbox to Inbox Two in Yahoo, Mail, and GMX. Then I move everything from one folder to Inbox. After a few minutes the mails will start to come into Mail and GMX. I found it helps, in Mail and GMX, to move the incoming mails to the corresponding folder after I get between fifty and two or three hundred. Once I confirm that all e-mails have been imported, I go back to Yahoo and move the e-mails back to the appropriate folder. Yes, this is a bit of a pain in the neck.”
Though there is no way to tell for sure, many of the complaints about the change suggest they come from business users. The petition calling on Yahoo to change back to the old interface reinforces that perception.
“This debacle is a disaster for business,” the petition reads. “We understand Yahoo is targeting the mobile market, and while we love mobile, we DON'T use mobile for business!”
Hyatt predicts Yahoo users will leave the service in droves if the issue isn't addressed. Yahoo doesn't think that's the case. Time will tell.