I’ve seen you rail against using Hotmail for “anything important”, and you
call out using it for business as a particularly bad idea. Why? What do you
have against Hotmail? Why should I incur yet another expense for my small
business if I can get email for free?
Because you want your email to get through, and because you want your
business to be taken seriously.
I don’t have anything against Hotmail, per se, or Microsoft for that matter.
Remember, I worked there for many years.
My issues with Hotmail and other free email services arose mostly out of my
experience here on Ask Leo!. Or, to put it
more correctly, the experience of thousands of people asking me questions.
Those experiences lead me to this conclusion: using Hotmail or any free
email service exclusively is bad for your business.
Let me explain why I hold that opinion that so strongly.
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It falls into two buckets: technical and perception.
I get more reports of problems with Hotmail than I do for any other mail
service. Mail that disappears, account access that’s lost, email that doesn’t
arrive, email that can’t be sent … these are all common issues that I see
Hotmail is not alone in this regard, but I do get the most email related to
So why do I lump all free email services into the same bucket as
Because they all share one common characteristic: there’s virtually no
If you have a problem with Hotmail, or Yahoo mail, or Google mail or
whatever free email service you’re using, you have nowhere to turn. There may
be a customer service email address or web form, but from what I’ve heard and
experienced myself, it’s apparently only there for show. IF you get a
response at all, which is rare, it’s likely to take a long time and be a
“canned” response. If you need hands-on help to deal with your particular
situation, there’s nowhere to go.
Because you’re getting what you paid for. You paid nothing, and that’s what
you’re getting. The provider is under no obligation to do anything for you.
They’re well within their rights to ignore you completely, which is apparently
what most do.
At least if you pay someone for service you have some leverage. First of
all, these providers typically promise service, and if they don’t deliver, you
have the option of taking your business elsewhere.
OK, I’ll put this as bluntly as I can.
When I see a business using a free email account, particularly a Hotmail
account, I immediately think: “this business doesn’t care about email, or using
the internet to communicate with their customers.”
And that perception is not uncommon among internet-savvy
The perception might be wrong. I get that. The company may be
deeply devoted to their internet-using customers. But using a free email
account doesn’t say that. A free email account says “we’re not willing to take
the relatively small expense to make sure we have reliable email”.
And that’s a shame.
In my opinion, any business small or large, should have their own internet
domain, and handle their email using that domain. Most domain registrars make
that easy, and offer very competitively priced packages. And customer
“Company@hotmail.com” will always look cheaper and less professional than
Not to mention that “email@example.com” is more likely to have technical
problems without anyone to help you resolve them.