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Imagine, for a minute, that you are doing business online.
Imagine that a customer makes a purchase at your website.
Imagine that the customer's credit card is billed for the order.
Imagine that you don't receive the order, so you don't ship the order.
Imagine the customer's reaction.

Now imagine - that you're not imagining...

This isn't a game of pretend. It's real and it's happening. It happened to one of my clients. Customers were placing orders that he was not receiving email notification of. What we discovered is that AOL has policies in place that many of their members don't know about. After all, who reads the fine print?

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AOL Users to Pay 10% Premium
(For Less than Premium Service?)
by Ken Fermoyle

...My biggest gripe, however, is with an AOL problem I have not seen mentioned by any other writer in any publication to date. (Read on, and if you've seen something similar in print elsewhere, please let me know.) That problem is AOL's policy of closing its doors to "outside" e-mail when its system load gets very heavy. I don't know what is the load factor that triggers raising of the e-mail drawbridge, but I do know it occurs....

What happens at such times is that AOL automatically returns all incoming e-mail, and allows only email originating from AOL customers to be delivered...

I'm not talking about spammers here, understand. These were not mass mailers sending out tons of sales pitches, just folks wanting to communicate with a fellow Netizen or responding to a request for information.

Ken Fermoyle has written some 2,500 articles for publications ranging from Playboy and Popular Science to MacWeek, Microtimes & PC Laptop.

NBC Epinions:

First, some common problems with AOL mail:
They shut it down without notice and do not tell you how long it will be down. They also do not tell you when it's back up. They also don't save your incoming mail during that period. Thus, you have a large potential for losing email..

AM Telco's Customer Forum
Posted April 20, 2000 at 15:27:35:

Q: We are experiencing problems getting e mail messages to AOL customers. Has anyone else experienced this? Does anyone have any solutions?

A: ...we have received reports from several of our administration clients who use AOL that they have been experiencing problems with AOL's mail server. The problems that have been reported to us included intermittent or failed delivery of email to AOL clients and duplicate messages being sent....

Realty Times
Why AOL EMail Stinks for REALTORS® by Blanche Evans

Realtors using AOL aren't getting the service they deserve....According to Russer and Hainge, the problem lies in the functionality of the email software. Russer has stated numerous times in training seminars across the country that AOL is not a business ISP. Hainge agrees. "AOL is not a businessperson's email," he says. "in that it is too limited in what it can do from a marketing standpoint (signatures, filters, separate mailboxes, etc.). You need an ISP, not AOL, for your email."

Another problem is that some emails sent to AOL addresses aren't ever received. We have 7,000 Realtors on our email ListServes. Certain of those people, including my wife, have been mysteriously not receiving email. What they have in common is that they are all America Online users."

"As a Realtor, I have to wonder, if AOL rejects that mail, what other mail is it rejecting? I would be concerned if I were depending on AOL for my business communications," warns Klein.

Fact of the matter is that if you use AOL for business, you are losing business and you probably don't even know it. We have proven this time and again by sending an email to an AOL address with a cc sent to a non-AOL address. The AOL member receives less email than the cc every time.

Here's the irony. When we explain this to people using AOL, they almost always say the same thing. "But, I get my email."

Yes, you get email. But not all of it. The ones you don't get, you don't even know about. The sender won't know you didn't get it, either, because it's deleted not returned.

If the email that was deleted was Auntie Sue's vacation photos, it's no big deal. Ditto for the jokes your buddy sends you. But what if it was a potentially huge order? Someone that wanted to do business with you. And you just didn't bother to reply. Not intentionally, of course, but because you didn't receive the email.

It's something to think about.

Feel welcome to reprint my articles as is. Please don't change them. All I ask in return is a credit link to my site. Thanks.