Saturday, March 23, 2002

Say Goodbye to Free Email

Both Hotmail and Yahoo have announced this week that people who want to continue to use some of their services will have to pay.

Yahoo announced on Thursday that it will begin charging for POP3 mail forwarding services. Yahoo originally started charging for some services back in February of 1999, and has continued over the past year to charge for services that are expensive to run. Beginning April 24, the mail forwarding service will cost users $29.99 per year, but those who subscribe before then will pay $19.99 for the first year.

Users who pay the fee will be able to use their Yahoo account as a POP3 mailbox, will be able to send attachments of up to 5 megabytes (instead of the current 1.5MB limit), and will not have the Yahoo text advertisement attached to the foot of every message. There will also be extra storage fees of $24.95 per year for 50MB, and $34.95 per year for 100MB, although users can pay monthly at $2.95 or $4.95, respectively.

Microsoft's Hotmail has taken a slightly different approach. Users who approach the 2MB limit, or don't regularly use the account, may find their inboxes cleared and their account bounces messages. Users are being pushed to upgrade to ensure their mail won't be wiped for inactivity or due to larger file sizes, while they are also being marketed the benefits of the Passport service and other internet services, such as MSN.

Last fall, Hotmail started closing accounts if inactive for 30 days, down from its 45 day policy. Over the summer, Hotmail offered storage space over the free 2MB at a price of $12.95, but raised it to $19.95 by December. Hotmail claims that first trash, then junk mail, then sent folders are cleaned before inboxes, although some users have reported the opposite has occurred. Some users argue that Hotmail has caused people to reach their file size limits by selling their information to spammers.

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