Follow up: Yahoo Mail's search bug and customer service

Summary:A few weeks ago we highlighted about an odd Yahoo Mail search bug. The problem: Yahoo Mail's search function wouldn't work and that's a big issue when you have thousands of email messages. Here's a look at how Yahoo has responded to users.

A few weeks ago we highlighted about an odd Yahoo Mail search bug. The problem: Yahoo Mail's search function wouldn't work and that's a big issue when you have thousands of email messages. Here's a look at how Yahoo has responded to users.

As noted before, Yahoo's techies rebuilt my inbox after I looked into it. Since my post I've heard from dozens of folks that have had the same problems. My initial plan was to pull together the bevy of emails I received and forwarded them to Yahoo once a week---I figured this would only last three weeks or so.

Wrong! Talk about the long-tail of a pesky bug. I continue to receive email about the Yahoo Mail search bug. The good news: Some of you actually got help. Others have hit a brick wall of help tickets. I haven't been able to discern any reliable pattern of the first wave of folks that got help.

Due to Yahoo's privacy policies the person with the inbox has to initiate the help process. However, there does seem to be a ticket---and the main objective for you is to reach second tier support. Yahoo support has said "we're taking care of these users as fast as we can."

If you happen to stumble across this post as you search for Yahoo Mail help, here are the instructions forwarded to me. This escalation message below seems to have worked for about two-thirds of the folks that contacted me two weeks ago with problems.

-----Original Message----- From: Yahoo! Mail [mailto:cc-priority-mail@cc.yahoo-inc.com] Sent: Saturday, September 05, 2009 1:51 PM To: Lawrence Dignan Subject: Re: FW: More Yahoo Mail search problems to pass along (KMM155915283V71895L0KM)

Hello Larry,

Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Mail Customer Care.

I understand that a number of your readers have experienced mail search issues in their Yahoo! Mail accounts. I completely understand you and your readers' frustration with this issue.

Unfortunately, due to our Privacy Policy, I cannot discuss or modify a Yahoo! Mail Account with or for a third party. I'm only able to communicate with the account owner regarding his or her personal account.

Please have the account owners contact us and We'll be happy to help out. The feedback form for Yahoo! Mail is:

http://add.yahoo.com/fast/help/us/mail/cgi_feedback

I hope this answers your question. If you need any further assistance, please feel free to contact us again.

Have a great weekend!

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Mail Customer Care.

The big question is what kind of response you will receive from Yahoo. Reports from the field are mixed. Here's a sampling of the good and bad.

The good...

I received two emails from Yahoo Mail customer reps.  The first email asked me for more detail and the second email conveyed that they had researched my account and fixed it.  Unfortunately, the search still messes up intermittently.  Their communication was fairly prompt as I received both email in a period of 3-4 days.  I just emailed to let them know the problem is not fully fixed.  It's quite frustrating.

And.

Mine started working again shortly after my email to you with no correspondence to or from yahoo directly. It does seem like scrolling through my mail folders is much slower now and that it crashes or doesn't load messages as quickly more often. Not sure if it's related. Thanks for all your help.

And.

After it was escalated to the 2nd tier they knew what to do. However it took about two days to resolve and they seem to be know that this is a common (or widespread) problem. Also, when they moved my mailbox, I got a ton of "old" emails that my Blackberry thought was undelivered.

And.

My e-mail search is functioning again now!

And.

Yes - they actually got back to me within 48 hours (Pearl in customer care) and rebuilt my mailbox the following day. Seems to work OK now.

And.

I did indeed hear from them.  They were able to correct my problem.  I even mentioned the urgency of getting the search function back since I was getting married in a few days and the people at yahoo wished me a happy marriage.  So, if other people are having problems of not getting through to yahoo, maybe mention you're about to be married??

The bad...

After responding to the questions, I never heard back.  It's fairly amusing (although frustrating)-- how hard is it to understand that the search doesn't work or return any search results?  So many other people have this problem, you think there would be at least a response from the company.  I guess, you can only complain so much about a free service-- but it's one of the only reasons I come back to Yahoo (the other would be Yahoo Finance).  The absurdity of a company built on search not being able to have a functioning tech search in its email is comical.

And.

Still not working. Customer service is AWOL. If you write about it, maybe that will put their feet to the fire. Please help.

And.

Absolutely NOTHING.  Does Yahoo really care?

And.

I have not heard back and they haven't fixed the issue. Getting frustrated. Time to switch to Gmail?

Final score: Yahoo appears to be working through the search issues overall, but there are a few disgruntled users. The real fix would be finding the root cause of the bug and proactively fixing accounts.

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Social Enterprise

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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