The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but lots of squeaky wheels get greased faster.
Cal.net customers! We won! We can keep our email!
The astounding news came via phone call recently from Cal.net’s sales manager, Mark Kerr. I was expecting a “Jane, you ignorant slut” assault, but no — Kerr was almost jolly as he informed me that an avalanche of customer feedback prompted Cal.net to reconsider its decision to discontinue its email services. I got the call first, apparently as a courtesy for having been a thorn in Cal.net’s side, and was told Cal.net customers would get the official announcement after Labor Day weekend.
Sure enough, we did:
“You Spoke, We Listened — Important Message Regarding Your Cal.Net E-Mail Account
“On July 29th, we sent you a notification that we were discontinuing all e-mail services for the @cal.net, @sierra-mail.com and @directcon.net accounts, effective January 20th, 2015. After hearing the concerns that many of you voiced, we have concluded that we had been a bit too extreme in our zeal to cut our e-mail costs so that we could focus on delivering the best quality Internet connectivity services. Accordingly, we have revised our policy to accommodate your needs.
“We will now allow you to keep any of your e-mail addresses you have with us. However, beginning Feb. 1, 2015, for each e-mail address that you have retained, we will assess a monthly fee of $4.58. If you are currently paying for an e-mail service with us at a higher rate, we will lower your rate to match the $4.58 amount…
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and misunderstanding that this may have caused you. Feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail if you have any questions.”
How cool is that?
Kerr said I wasn’t the only one who raised a stink about losing her beloved decades-old email address, nor was it simply all the fellow Cal.net customers I’d urged to contact Cal.net after voicing their frustration to me in response to my columns. There were lots of others who weren’t simply bummed over the hassle of switching to a new email account and the drudgery of changing scores of website log-ins and accounts. Their issue was the financial impact of having new business cards, stationary and brochures printed. It would cost more to reprint all that than to pay for Cal.net email. Others were upset because their livelihoods were linked to their Cal.net email address.
In other words, it’s not as simple — or cheap — as “just get Gmail.”
Me, I begrudgingly established a Gmail account, which required me to create a Google+ account, which I resent, and was immediately turned off by an onslaught of unwanted ads and pop culture nonsense that Google thinks I care about (until they do some data mining on me via my new Google+ account). So, I asked my software engineer husband to create an email from my cobweb-strewn website, edebra.com, and it works great. But I’m still going to pay to keep my Cal.net email anyway. But not as much.
Kerr pointed out a rather humorous error in my last column about Cal.net: I wasn’t paying $10 per month for email, I was only paying $5, every six months. Eh, the bill pops up, I pay it, I don’t think about it much… $5, $10, who cares when you’re happy with the service.
“See,” I told him, “You COULD have charged $10 per month, and I still would’ve paid it! And I’m probably not the only one!”
Kerr chuckled and then gave me yet better news: I wouldn’t even be paying $5 per month, anymore — only $4.58. Very, very cool. The Cheapacabra never quarrels over paying less.
So, since Cal.net had previously stated that they couldn’t afford to provide email service, and were now announcing they’d not only continue to provide it, but for even less — how did this happen? Kerr explained that Cal.net will subcontract to an email company right here in the U.S. with workers right here in the U.S. (if he says his name is “Steve,” it really is), and Cal.net will focus on web services. Everybody’s happy.
And yet (unless you’re a Cal.net customer), you’re confused. Why PAY for email that’s free everywhere? Because I prefer to know the exact amount I’m paying, rather than the incalculable amount I’d be paying in security, privacy and aggravation for “free” email. Google and Yahoo pollute your inbox with advertising, mine your data, and are targets for hackers. They interlace your email with social media, the black hole of privacy. This all costs something that you can’t put a dollar figure on. And personal service? Don’t make me laugh.
So yes, I’ll happily pay $4.58 for more security, privacy and service, and less annoyance and intrusion. That’s half what I pay for Netflix. Think about that. Is the content of your email half as valuable as watching “Orange is the New Black”? If your response is anything other than “Hayull yes” — I worry about you.
So, fellow squeakers, rejoice! We prevailed! And hats off to Cal.net for finding a solution that makes everyone happy!
Now then — “free email” customers: If you objected to Google’s or Yahoo’s email policies, would you get a personal phone call from the corporate office, and good news of a quick, efficient solution?
You’d get an auto-response with a “do not reply” return address, a promise of customer assistance that never comes, and a link to the FAQ section on their website that doesn’t actually contain any solutions. You might just admit defeat there, or dig around until you manage to get a human on the phone — “Steve” — who is not actually in the same hemisphere or time zone as you, let alone continent. He’ll tell you, through a thick accent, “I’m sorry, we cannot do that.”
Ask me again why I’m happy to pay for email.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at email@example.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com