Using an email address from your internet provider could lead to a world of pain when you want to get a better broadband deal – as one of our readers discovered with the closure of UK Online.
How many people know your email address? Ten? A hundred? A thousand?
For me, it’s probably somewhere between the last two numbers – significantly more than know either of my phone numbers.
I’ve had my personal email address for more than ten years. So I can fully empathise with a Which? Convo reader who got in touch with us. He discovered that his Internet Service Provider (ISP) – UK Online – is being closed in January, and that he’ll lose his email address as a result.
He told us that he didn’t mind moving to another provider, but he did object to the fact that they wouldn’t be providing an email forwarding service when they close their email servers down.
ISP emails are a barrier to switching
It’s relatively rare for ISPs to shut down suddenly, but when they do they’re under no legal obligation to let you keep your email address or offer a forwarding service. Still, we agree that it would have been polite of UK Online/Sky (its parent company) to do so.
What’s far more common is for broadband customers to get fed up with their provider and want to move away – ideally to a Which? Recommended Broadband Provider. But as Which? broadband expert, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard from people who stay with an ISP they’re unhappy with purely because they don’t want to lose their email address.
Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of losing my email address would make my heart sink. Putting aside the hassle of letting my personal contacts know, I also rely on my email for online billing and reminders for key tasks, like paying my TV Licence.
In praise of webmail
Fortunately, my chances of ever having to give up my email address are small because I use webmail service Hotmail rather than my broadband provider. This means I can access my email easily wherever I like, and change provider to my heart’s content without worry.
Even if you’re an MS Outlook devotee, there are several webmail services – including Gmail – that let you manage your account via Outlook. Though for the security conscious we reckon that storing your messages on a webmail server reduces the risk of a thief accessing your emails if your computer is stolen.
The only party I can see that benefits from you using your ISP’s email address is the ISP itself. So, if you’re using an email address provided with your broadband service, why not get a webmail address now and start using it? It’s far better to manage the move gradually under your own terms than have it forced on you by your ISP’s closure.
What do you use as your main email account?
I use my internet provider's service (55%, 972 Votes)
I've set up a web-based account (30%, 531 Votes)
I've bought my own domain name (14%, 239 Votes)
I use a work, school or college account (1%, 19 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,761