Yesterday, I noticed my Gmail account was insanely slow for no apparent reason. Nothing new here really, so I decided to wait it out. A few hours later, same deal. So I began phase two of my normal routine these days: publicly bitching about Gmail on Twitter. Normally, this works like a charm. Google reaches out and says they’re investigating (yes, fear my TechCrunch power and all that). Within a day, I’m zooming away seemingly faster than ever before.
Except today it’s actually even worse.
Emails are taking upwards of 30 seconds to load. Archiving is taking at least 15 seconds. Search is completely unusable. All the same is true on the mobile site as well. It’s so bad there, in fact, that the app believes it’s actually offline when it’s not.
Anyway, again, none of this is new. I tend to bitch about these things every few months. Here’s me last November, for example — a problem which Google confirmed after my post and quickly fixed. But here’s the thing: why does this keep happening on a regular basis? And why does it take me bitching or a TechCrunch post to fix it? I’m sure this is affecting scores of other users without such a platform, and their complaints likely go unheard.
And before everyone jumps to the silly “it’s free” defense, know two things: 1) Gmail is not free, we’re all paying for it in advertising clicks and/or views. 2) I am actually paying for it. Yes, real money to Google for both more storage and a yearly fee for Google Apps (well, that’s TechCrunch paying, but still). We’re all “paying” customers. Google should be more on top of this.
And I’m sure right after I post this I’ll get an email (which will take 45 seconds to load) that will say the problem is only affecting 2 percent of users. That’s the PR-spin way of saying that millions of people are suffering.
So it’s time for a new deal.
Google, please set a price — any price — that you determine is necessary to keep anyone’s account running smoothly at all times. I’ll gladly pay it. I don’t care if it’s $100 a year or $1,000 a year. It would be worth it.
People often talk about the desire to pay for Twitter either for better uptime or for more features, but the situation with Gmail is much more serious. Unlike Twitter, I conduct basically all my business through Gmail. I simply need it to work for me at all times. And I’m happy to pay for that to be the case.
Currently, I’m only paying $5 a year for 20 GB of storage. Soon, I’ll have to upgrade to the next step, which is $20 a year for 80 GB. The problem is that with this price increase, there’s no guarantee of better service right now. So I’m obviously hesitant to do it. Hell, I’d consider paying the maximum $4,096 a year for the 16 TB of storage if I knew for sure it meant better service.
As for the “why don’t you just switch” argument, it’s tough. Gmail is still the best email service feature-wise and when it’s working properly, no one comes close to it. There’s also a huge lock-in factor for all the people that currently message me this way. Sure, I could forward emails, but really, shouldn’t Gmail just work? Why should I have to switch to an inferior service (from everything but the performance perspective)? I shouldn’t.
So Google, you now have this letter that I’m posting publicly because I currently can’t send it via Gmail in a reasonable amount of time. Set a price and let me know.
Or, if it will help, steal my Gmail Lite idea! Just please do something.