back to article Orange promises rethink on deleted email accounts

Orange is contemplating a U-turn on its trashing of old Freeserver accounts following a storm of criticism from hacked-off users. Last month Orange started deleting inactive email accounts which were not associated with broadband or dial-up internet access accounts. Many were old Freeserve accounts that had been migrated to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To be honest the people that have left all important information in one account aren't exactly the smartest of people. Complaining you've lost years of photographs....why the hell are they stored in your email?!?!? Who stores pictures in emails?? I think some people might be exagerating slightly.

    If emails are that important you dont just keep them all in one have a backup of them somewhere?

    Also someone has actually mentioned a warning email was sent out approximately 6 months ago!!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Rufus ? is that you ?

    Please tell me Orange didn't give Rufus a job

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Utterly rediculous, if you ask me, to expect an ISP that you no longer use to provide you with free email services for an indeterminate length of time.

    I remember signing up with old dial up services back in the day that made a big thing of mentioning in their sign-up terms that accounts not used for a period of more than 30 days would be deleted, perfectly reasonable in my opinion because beyond this time it can reasonably deemed that you are no longer using the service.

    So, those that have had free email services from Orange, Tiscali or whoever, think yourselves lucky that your ISP has been generous enough to give you access to your email for such a great length of time since you stopped actually sending them any money.

  4. The Mole

    Data protection act

    I thought that under the Data Protection Act by Law Orange would be required to delete personal information they held on you when it was no longer needed. If they no longer have a commercial relationship with you (ie you aren't using their dial up service or paying them any money) then I would expect that they delete the email and failing to do so would be illegal.

    I don't understand why people are expecting that an ISP they no longer use should still provide them email access. They are a business not a charity

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can understand....

    I can understand why Orange took this approach, but it would have been better to notify customers via email about what was going to happen.

    On the other hand, I was with ClaraNet up until about 2001 and when I left them, I asked how long I would keep the email address for. The advisor said they NEVER delete email accounts so I can use it for free.

    To this day, I STILL have my account and it has always served me well!

  6. RW


    Why? asked:

    > Who stores pictures in emails??

    Those using IMAP, who leave all their emails on the server.

    The raison d'etre for IMAP is to accomodate folks who access email from multiple computers, allowing them to leave all their emails on the server instead of having to download it to read it. My guess is that most of these IMAP users only access email via their one and only home computer, a situation where IMAP's special characteristics are irrelevant.

    Even where you access emails from multiple computers, if they are networked together and have file sharing, it's easy to put all the emails on one of them with any reasonable POP-based email client. And hence IMAP's utility is dubious in this case as well.

    IOW, it's the old story of inappropriate use of a technology eventually biting users on the ass. Under specific conditions, IMAP is a Good Thing, but used willy-nilly by one and all it places one's email archive at the none too tender mercies of whoever runs the server. And it's clear that commercial ISPs are far from merciful!

  7. Joe

    ISP email addresses

    Who uses them anyway? They're nearly always crap and you can't usually switch ISP without losing it.

  8. Dan

    Irrelevant Comments

    Whether you think people shouldn't rely on ISP email addresses or if Orange should only provide services that make them money is totally irrelevant.

    Orange took on the obligation of these accounts when they took over Freeserve and Wanadoo.

    People used these accounts for many years building up contacts and useful emails etc.

    Orange changed their procedures and began to delete email accounts WITHOUT warning. They did this despite knowing the anguish & stress it would cause.

    Common sense would suggest a simple warning posted on the Orange email welcome page would have prevented the majority of users losing their important emails. Orange didn't apply common sense therefore upsetting so many people.

    Common sense would now suggest they retrieve the data for a limited period giving people a chance to sort out their email. So, will Orange now take the chance to repair their reputation?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a good idea ... ?

    "it would have been better to notify customers via email about what was going to happen."

    Yes, I can imagine the text of such an email.

    Dear customer, as you haven't read your emails for more than 260 days we thought it would be a good idea to send you an email to say that if you also don't read the email we're now sending you, we're also about to delete your account.

    Yes, makes perfect sense doesn't it ... and I suspect that's precisely all that they *have* done and precisely what has caused the complaint.

    As these were once paying customers, they must presumably have a postal address for them? Which, admittedly some may no longer live at, but that doesn't excuse not sending out the notices for the benefit of those that do.

  10. Graham Lockley

    Grey Area

    'So, those that have had free email services from Orange, Tiscali or whoever, think yourselves lucky that your ISP has been generous enough to give you access to your email for such a great length of time since you stopped actually sending them any money.'

    Ok, so you are no longer a customer and you no longer donate to the coffers so you have no right to expect an e-mail service for free.

    In that case would someone please explain to me how Hotmail/Gmail/Yahoo and all the other hundreds of FREE mail providers survive ?

    Maybe on advertising revenue ?

    I dont actually care either way but it seems a little foolish of Orange to stop a service to non-customers that costs very little and yet may provide good rep as being trustworthy. Sadly the bean-counters cannot put a dollar sign over that so it probably wasnt considered.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Well for once . .

    there are good arguments on both sides of the issue. Interesting.

    However, I must admit that I believe leaving one's mail on the Internet is a daft idea to begin with.

    Need to contact someone ? Ugh, start the computer, dial in, open mail, get contact details, grab the phone. Need to find that mail you got in 2002 from that friend whose name you don't remember ? Double ugh, need to boot up, dial in, open mail and search mail box, possibly the least efficient way of doing things.

    And on top of that, you're at risk of losing all your data if you don't have a backup.

    These people have obviously not lost enough data yet. I'm almost hoping that Orange will not be able to restore them mailboxes. These users need the lesson.

    Once upon a time computers were expensive, disc space was worth gold and nobody could properly back up data at home. Nowadays a PC is $500, comes with a DVD burner and the media is worth peanuts.

    There is little excuse to leave mail on the Internet anymore, and none at all if you only read it from home.

  12. Andy Worth

    Common Sense

    Frankly if people don't have the common sense or are too lazy to have copies of pictures and the like stored elsewhere (other than an email account they DON'T USE) then they deserve everything they get.

  13. Dafydd Lawrence

    @Anon: "What a good idea ... ?"

    "Dear customer, as you haven't read your emails for more than 260 days we thought it would be a good idea to send you an email to say that if you also don't read the email we're now sending you, we're also about to delete your account."

    You might want to read the story and the background to this, or use a little common sense. If people didn't use the e-mail then they wouldn't be complaining, would they?

    The problem is the fact that people did use the e-mail service, maybe daily. However, they didn't access it using the correct method. They were using an alternate service provider's internet access like Cable.

    It's not really worth having a go at people who may have lost lots of important information if you are not affected and don't understand the reason.

    I lost all my orange e-mail a while back, despite being an orange customer and having an orange account. I was 'stupid' enough to change from contract to pay-as-you-go and this meant that without warning I lost all my e-mails, my account and my e-mail address. The only stupid thing I've done since is stick with Orange as it's a pain to try to change to another provider from where I am.

  14. druck Silver badge

    Dust off that old modem

    If you still use your old dial up account's mailbox from your new broadband account, its only reasonable to dust off that old modem every so often and make a 10 second connection, to ensure the account is marked as active. At least you'll know then you have some sort of working backup should your ADSL/cable suddenly go down the tubes.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're not all expert users!

    I am one of the people that had my long-standing freeserve account deleted by Orange. I'm just a regular email user, not particularly IT-savvy, and didn't fully appreciate how I was using the service - as long as it was working I didn't tinker with it.

    In my particular case I travel abroad frequently and hardly ever use dial-up so I relied on webmail access. I believed Orange's server to be both a reliable and secure place to store my email and contacts using just 10% of the allowed storage. What I object to is the manner in which Orange removed the service without any warning - no suspension, no warning email, no message on the web log-in page - nothing.

    Since losing my account I now understand why Orange may have had good reason to off-load these inherited accounts but surely a company with any sense of customer care would have explained the reasons behind the decision and suggested a few alternatives. A month's grace period and a few warning emails is hardly too much to ask (at least Skype has the courtesy to contact me 30 days, 7 days and 3 days before my Skype credit expires). As it is I was absolutely furious to be told by Orange support that several years of data was irretrievably lost with no hope of recovery.

    My elderly father also lost his account because his freeserve emails were being retrieved via a plusnet broadband connection and he never needed to dial up - how was he supposed to know what was happening? Incidentally we are both monthly contract subscribers to Orange mobile so we are not entirely free-loading on the company. Soon to be ex-subscribers I hasten to add.

    I have done a fair bit of research since and have now opted for a fastmail pay account that meets my needs and will only expire if the annual subs is not paid.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Common Sense

    Nope, actually a lot of the people who had the email addresses removed were using them to some extent. I was keeping mine open as I've had the address for 10 years and there's a few people who kept sending messages to that address, though I'd asked them to change.

    The issue here isn't so much that Orange removed the accounts, it's that they did so with absolutely no warning, in supposed contradiction of a confusing set of terms and conditions. I, along with many others, read those T&Cs as saying that the accounts would be suspended, then deleted if not reactivated after 40 days. Since I don't use dialup any more, the least they could have done would be to warn of the impending removal.

    Thanks to this, they've lost at least 2 new customers (I was about to change broadband providers due to a move, and my Mum's going to have broadband installed soon), as I clearly can't trust them for an internet service.

  17. Dan

    Why the nasty comments?

    "they deserve everything they get" & "These users need the lesson" et al.

    OK so you obviously weren't affected by this because you don't use the online email and back up everything. Great, pleased for you.

    However, the way you choose to defend Orange just appears to be an attack on people who have been affected - why?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rm -rf *

    This reminds me of that "free for life" redirecting email address I had with an domain (can't remember who gave that service though), which began to turn into a crippled service: first they dropped SMTP for non-paying users, and then they silently started b0rking the free addys so mail wouldn't would always go through.

    Finally, one day the address went down for good. I don't even know if it was because of a mass purge or if the company itself went titsup; I'd bet on the latter as my addy went down sometime during 2001, during the dot-com crash.

    @ISP email addresses

    Some services require you to register with a REAL address, gmail/yahoo/hotmail won't work there. Plus, your ISP email might be the most reliable and the most personal it can get: no "do no evil" companies snooping around your email. Back in the early days of free webmail, those were seen as the "el-cheapo" alternative for users without ISP or university email access. I had the fortune of having *both* commodities. Were it not for spam, I might still be using them, as these aren't deleted if I don't check 'em every month. Bleh.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Unrecoverable' Accounts Restored

    I'm pleased to report Orange have now fully reinstated my deleted freeserve email accounts.

    My archived emails are also intact.

  20. Nano nano

    Yep - mine back too

    Thanks (eventually) Orange !

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