Trouble At Yahoo: Partial Webmail Outage Continues, While Surprise Small Business Website Shutdowns Anger Customers

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Normally a report of a web services outage goes like this: web service goes down, reporter writes post, hits publish, web service comes right back up. But that doesn’t appear to be the case for Yahoo Mail, which has been down for some users for well over 24 hours, and in some cases nearly two days, if the reports on Twitter and those rolling into our tips inbox are to be believed.

According to these reports, users have been seeing messages about “scheduled maintenance.” Yahoo’s Customer Care account @YahooCare confirmed this partial outage yesterday afternoon, and said that a fix was expected to arrive by 1:30 PM PT. The account also noted that users experiencing the outage could access their email via tablet or smartphone instead in the meantime.

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However, based on the growing number of complaints on Twitter and via TechCrunch tips, it appears the issue has not yet been addressed as promised. “Yahoo mail has been down for 48 hrs. Literally unable to even check your inbox period,” wrote one unsatisfied customer. Another claims, “mine was down all last week.”

Though every web service has its issues – even Gmail this September experienced a “slowdown” where email arrivals were delayed – the company was perhaps more diligent in updating its users about the problems through its Apps status dashboard, where regular updates provided the current status of the problem. Yahoo, meanwhile, has posted a couple of tweets. The latest, acknowledging the ongoing problem, was posted after we reached out to Yahoo for comment.

Yahoo Mail may be a free webmail service that most use for personal emails, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not mission-critical for some of its users. It may not be powering business communications on the scale of something like Microsoft Exchange or Google Apps, but a multi-day outage still needs to be communicated about and addressed in a more upfront fashion, which Yahoo has so far failed to do.

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Yahoo Small Business Website Deactivations Overwhelm Customer Service

The issues with customer service and communications are not limited to Yahoo Mail, it seems. For example, the company is also currently dealing with the fallout from its recent shuttering of email and web hosting services to customers related to the company’s former relationship with AT&T/SBC. Yahoo says it did notify users, but many business owners who missed this tidbit had their business websites shut down, and are now having trouble getting help bringing them back online.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.21.06 AMSome have even taken to trolling the Yahoo Small Business Facebook page, when phone calls didn’t work. And this was a paid service for businesses.

Yahoo Small Business claims to have sent several emails and mailings about this impending shutdown, of course some users slipped through the cracks, as is usually the case when these things happen. The problem now is that these customers are not able to get the help they need to reactivate their sites, due to an overwhelmed customer service department.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.21.58 AMWrote one user to TechCrunch, “Yahoo is so overwhelmed they cannot answer phone calls or reply to emails. I’ve been on hold for hours and hours since last Sunday, spoke twice to a real person who in both instances sent me to another number that is absolutely unreachable.”

“They have shut down the websites of countless businesses. The last person I talked with [via phone] acknowledged they have no idea how many people they’ve impacted,” said the affected user.

Another complained to us, “many of us have been trying to figure out where our websites went and why we have no email access. This happened suddenly and without warning. Yahoo won’t answer its phones or emails and isn’t responding on Facebook either,” she says.

Coincidentally, the websites were activated just a day after “Shop-Small-Business Saturday,” a movement to encourage consumers to visit the small businesses in their own neighborhood.

We’ve reached out to Yahoo for further details on Yahoo’s Mail outage, and will update if a response is provided.

[Image credits: Yahoo, Twitter user Rozzystar, Yahoo on Facebook]

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UPDATE: While Yahoo never responded to our inquires, the company posted the following on its blog today:

We are very sorry for recent difficulties with Yahoo Mail.

Some of our users have not been able to access their mail since 10:27 PM PT on Monday night, due to a hardware problem in one of our mail data centers. The issue has been harder to fix than we originally expected.

We have dozens of people working around the clock to bring it to a resolution. We believe our current efforts will restore our users’ access to their inboxes by 3 pm PT today. We’ll post again then on our @YahooMail Twitter handle.

by Jeffrey Bonforte, SVP of Communication Products

UPDATE: Yahoo is tracking the status here now. The latest:

Update 12/11/13 5:00 pm PST
Most affected users should now be able to access their Yahoo Mail accounts on the web and our apps for iOS, Android and Windows 8. Most users should be able to log into their accounts, and send and receive messages. We’re continuing to restore access for all affected users.

You’ll notice that your most recent messages may not be appearing in your Inbox. We’re starting to deliver emails that were sent to you during the outage. Because we have a backlog, it may take us a bit of time but rest assured we’re trying to deliver them as fast as we can.

For some of you, emails between 11/25 and 12/9 may not be showing up in your Inbox — we’re still working on bringing all accounts up to date. We’re also working on restoring IMAP and POP access for those of you accessing your email through a non-Yahoo app (such as Outlook, Apple Mail, or the native mail app on your phone). For more information, please see our help article about setting up Yahoo Mail on a mobile device with POP or IMAP.

Again, we’re sorry for the inconvenience this is causing. We’ll continue to provide updates to this page.

Another update says it’s partially restored:

Update 12/11/13 – 11:15 pm PST
We wanted to give you another quick update as we continue to work on Yahoo Mail tonight.

We restored POP mail access earlier this evening and are still working to restore IMAP. In the meantime, the best way to access your email on mobile is through a Yahoo Mail app for iOS or Android, which you can download here: http://mobile.yahoo.com/mail/
and on desktop, log into Yahoo Mail through your browser.

The affected servers have been up and running for over six hours and we’ve already delivered over 30% of messages sent during the outage. We expect all emails to be delivered by tomorrow afternoon.

Some users may still have trouble accessing their accounts but we are working through the night on this and will post again in the morning Pacific Time with the latest updates.