I had previously used 4smartphone.net for my hosted Exchange service, but unfortunately after dealing with numerous issues and problems from that provider, I was forced to switch elsewhere. I did some further research before making the switch (although the switch had to occur pretty quickly due to circumstances beyond my control – i.e. 4smartphone.net completely crashing and therefore removing my ability to send/receive email or access my mailbox data), and finally settled on 1&1 (1and1.com) for my new hosted Exchange provider. One of the reasons I chose them was because I figured they were a much larger, more established company, so not only would I hopefully get better service and support, but the chances of a repeat of what happened with 4smartphone occurring again were slim. While I was right that an exact repeat didn’t occur, I was wrong to think I would get better service and support from them!
Almost immediately after signing up for their service, I encountered what would be the first of many problems with their service. After moving all my mailbox data over to 1&1, I changed my phone (at the time a Windows Mobile device) to sync with 1&1. Right away, my phone requested that I accept some security policies that were required by 1&1’s Exchange servers. Figuring that it wouldn’t really impact me (since I already was using a passcode/PIN to secure my device), I went ahead and accepted them. Immediately after doing that, my phone pretty much died (couldn’t connect to anything via Bluetooth without a reset, couldn’t receive incoming calls, no reminders appeared any longer, and more), ultimately requiring that I rebuild it from scratch. After talking to Palm level 3 technical support (yes, my phone was a Palm Treo), we all came to the conclusion that somehow the enforcement of 1&1’s security policies on my device had caused the issue (especially since all of the issues began occurring right after I accepted 1&1’s security policies and I hadn’t made any other changes to my device). I attempted to contact 1&1 customer/technical support for assistance, but all I got was the run-around and rude responses (one even culminating in them hanging up the phone on me). At one point, I was told that the security policy could be disabled for me, but in my numerous attempts to follow up on that and get them to do so, they kept refusing. Unfortunately, given that this occurred so long ago, I can’t quite remember what the ultimate resolution of this issue was, although I suspect they finally did disable the security policies for me (which, according to Microsoft, was a very simple procedure they could do that would only impact my account and wouldn’t cause any security vulnerabilities to 1&1) since I remained a customer of theirs for a while longer.
Not soon after the above problem, further issues arose. Some of these included:
- Lack of response to further questions I had for them (which only reinforced what I had learned from the above issue – that they had very poor customer and technical support)
- Connectivity issues between my locally installed copy of Outlook and their Exchange servers
o Almost every morning when I woke up and went to look at my computer, pop-up balloons from the Outlook icon in the system tray indicated that the connection had failed several times throughout the night
o At random, sporadic times, my connection between Outlook and their Exchange servers would just fail for periods of time, thus causing me to have to work offline in Outlook and not have access to my most current information (or be able to receive or send email)
- Access issues with Outlook Web Access (OWA) and Outlook Mobile Access (OMA):
o At times I would be able to browse to the login screens, but would be unable to log in – the system would reject my credentials or provide me with error messages
o Other times, the login pages themselves would not load
o At one point, there was an outage that lasted for a significant period of time and which they finally informed me of, but during the other instances there was no real support response or resolution
o They also kept trying to redirect me to use other login pages, and not only was this annoying, but it didn’t usually help fix the problems.
What finally was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was a synchronization issue that occurred in mid-2008. Somehow, my mobile device began to attempt to synchronize with 1&1’s Exchange servers every minute despite it being set to only attempt a sync when new mail items arrived (or I imagine when I made changes to items on my mobile device that then had to be sync’ed back to the Exchange server). Obviously, this was a real problem because it was rapidly draining my battery. Despite requesting assistance from 1&1 yet again, I got nowhere with them, and ultimately had to once more hard reset my phone and rebuild it from scratch. At that point, however, I decided that I’d had enough of 1&1 and begin looking elsewhere for a company to use as a hosted Exchange provider.
Even after I’d left their company and was in the process of cancelling my account, 1&1 couldn’t seem to resist one last parting shot at me. I wanted to make sure that after I cancelled my account, 1&1 would delete all of my data that they had previously stored and not retain it for any reason (obviously there was plenty of confidential information stored within my Exchange mailbox). Despite repeated and pointed emails to 1&1 customer support where I very specifically asked and insisted that they delete my data, they continually responded with vague information about my account being in the cancellation phase and never once gave me any sort of reassuring response that my data would be safely deleted and not retained.
Overall, while using this company wasn’t quite as bad as my previous experience with 4smartphone.net, it was still pretty horrible, causing me numerous times where I couldn’t access my data, as well as 2 separate instances where I had to waste time rebuilding my smart phone because of issues on their end.
P.S. In the interest of full disclosure (which I’m always in favor of), the above situations occurred while I was a customer of 1&1 from early 2007 to mid-2008. I know this is a long time ago, and it’s very possible that 1&1 now operates differently and/or has corrected the issues I experienced, but the fact remains that I did experience all of the above problems and I wanted to warn other potential customers out there to be wary when dealing with 1&1.