What price email with customer service?

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of email in some people’s lives – almost everything that can be done by email does is done by email for at least one person out there. Billions of emails are sent every day.

And yet, so many people, including myself, rely on email services where we are not the customer, but the product being sold to advertisers, the real customers of Internet giants like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo (still the largest email provider, despite their other well known issues).

This leads, unsurprisingly, to conflicts. Someone has an email problem, and the supplier, who has millions of users and a relatively small number of support employees, is unable to respond as the user would want.

So… there’s an obvious question – why don’t people value their email accounts enough to pay for it, and how much would they pay? well, if you look into how much a basic paid for mail service costs, it’s obviously almost nothing – £1 a month for 1GB of storage with webmail, IMAP, spam filtering, all that fun. And as they say “UK based 24/7 support – get help when you need it”. So, what more could you want (except maybe more storage..)?

Maybe it’s the interface that holds people back, these alternative webmail interfaces often aren’t great. But there’s Zimbra, a very advanced webmail product which costs a bit more (£39 per year from SMS, I’m sure others will be cheaper).

Now given how important email is, £40 a year doesn’t seem that high, though I do need more storage – that’s £20 a year per GB, and Gmail shows me using under 2GB of storage after several years of use.

So, around £60 per year, for an email service with customer service, is it worth it? I don’t know, but I do know if I keep using Gmail, one day I almost certainly will find out how important my email is to me – it’ll be the day I’m locked out and can’t get in touch with Google to resolve my problem.