Does Your Gmail Suck Too?

203 Comments

A few months ago, at the insistence of some of my team members, we switched from Zimbra to Google Apps for our own domain offering. The argument was that Google’s quality of service, thanks to its great infrastructure, would be great and that we could also use Google Docs for easy sharing of information.

And since everyone on the team (barring me) loved the Gmail interface, I acquiesced to their wishes. I shouldn’t have. Six months later we are getting frustrated by schizrophrenic nature of the Google Mail system. At the time, these ideas looked like they were all such great ideas in theory — but six months later we are all experiencing all sorts of problems with Google Mail.

Messages are either not getting sent or being lost by the system. Several people have complained about not receiving replies, even after we have sent them back. The mail system hangs up and you keep waiting for something to happen. And don’t get me started on the sub-par IMAP features of the system. How is one supposed to run a business on such an unreliable platform? The integration of Google’s services remains a distant dream, reminding us of the limitation of its competence beyond search and advertising.

And in order to get support we would need to upgrade to a premium version of the service that could set us back by $1,200 a month year. I don’t mind paying, but if their recent track record is any indication, I might as well light a cigar with 12 $100 bills. For the longest time I though we were the only ones with this problem. Apparently not. At least two other friends with startups who are using Google Apps for their domain are finding similar issues.

That is why I feel terrible for those 1.5 million Australian school kids who will now have to use Gmail instead of Exchange/Outlook. In some ways it’s like jumping from fire into the frying pan (being heated in that fire.)

Are you experiencing those issues as well? Go ahead and kvetch in our comments!

203 Comments

Doug K.

We use Google Apps and Gmail. Email always locks up whenever you have words like script, etc. (things that might be code) in your email. I have complained several times to Gmail but since their customer service is lousy and they have no direct link within Gmail it is difficult for me to tell if they have even received my message. I have taken to spelling words like script as so…sc ri pt. Terrible!

Doug K.

Sal Cangeloso

I have two email accounts, one for work and one for personal use, and both have been flawless. I’ve heard about issues with IMAP and obviously syncing is less than perfect, but I’m just using Gmail for basic webmail (and checking it with my phone now and then through google.com’s mobile site) and everything has been super. For a free email service I have been really happy with it and it’s gotten me away from tools like Thunderbird and handling my own mail through my server.

As for google offering service, I would not get my hopes up. I have emailed them once or twice and I have gotten helpful responses after a day or two, which surprised me. I generally use Google boards for help, it turns out that if I am having an issue so is someone else.

Chris Nadeau

We have been using Gmail and its product suite for some time now and we actually have set up a number of our clients on it and it has been the best move for everyone. No complaints, everyone loves it and it has made their lives easier. Not sure how you have it set up, but you might want to look into the set up before you give up.

Ross

OM,

I don’t get where you get your $1200/month from. I think you probably mean $1200/yr because the price is $50/usr/yr. I have been using gmail for years (and have been using the apps edition for over a year) and it has been absolutely fantastic.

Ross
http://www.hostdisciple.com

Wolke Snow

Garett Rogers recntly had an article “Google needs to rethink its customer service strategy” ( http://blogs.zdnet.com/Google/?p=1073 )

Apparently it’s common knowledge that Google does not provide support;

>> Even the premium version which includes some technical support is useless when you have a non “How do I?” problem that requires real assistance.

It doesn’t stop at just Google Apps though — it’s impossible to get real customer service from Google for anything. You get lost in automated responses and forums that are filled with people having the same problems with no answers most of the time.
<<

Then again, isn’t that the promise of Saas?

Jimmy Chan

I am using G apps, for my company domain and all my person domain, I also have outsource exchange server with another business. I switched from Sendmail/Entrouage to Gmail/Mail.app a few months ago (I am using IMAP with the exchange account).

Gmail IMAP with Mac Mail.app suck. Especially when every email get download twice, I use the save mail in local computer option from some accounts so I can use mail.app to search. I know there are scripts and work around, but I rather take a nap and think about the future then spending time screwing around like that.

I also have the same sending problem like Om has once in a while in one of the domain, I think Om may be right with the probability of a scaling problem. However, IMAP with iphone works great, now if I can search email in iphone…..

I will say gmail has more down time then a pay exchange server, but I like the intergration with the other gapps. It’s far from perfect and I am kind of disappointed that the improvement has been coming very slowly.

I am also hoping Google to integrate all the information and communication components together with Grand Central, gtalk, gmail, greader, gnews….e.t.c. so I can jsut go to one place to see all the infomation and communication channel I want have, I am sure they may be working on something like that, but is it too much to ask for having that doen before end of this decade?

Jimmy

Samir Raiyani

We switched to Gmail and apps a couple of weeks back and it’s been a bit flaky on IMAP, but not too horrible. The part that makes me dream of Outlook is the calendar. The calendar itself and its integration with mail is pretty awful. As someone else said on this thread, you get what you paid for. @ $50/user/year, I doubt if we can expect any more… :(

Jeffrey

There’s no reason why a user should have to care whether GMail is run on a “distributed platform” or a room full of bareshirted guys in chains walking in circles to power a giant bamboo camshaft.

It’s hard to diagnose what’s going on here from the comfort of an armchair, but I’ve noticed in the past few weeks that GMail seems to be increasingly capacity constrained — it’s running noticeably slower and much more spam is getting through (suggesting that they’re devoting resources to just keeping the system up instead of devoting it to filtering spam).

Frank

I think this is one of those rare cases where Yahoo got the interface right. I think it’s superior to gmail, it’s intuitive. I can’t speak about the back end, however.

Marcus Nelson

I have one gmail account that seems to go psycho once in a while — it will display over 900 unread messages when being displayed through Apple Mail. Once you select the account, the 900+ emails vanish. They are phantom messages. Bizarre.

Then all at once, it’ll go back to normal for two or three weeks before starting all over again. Nutty.

Zubin Wadia

GMail is a distributed platform underneath. So, the schizophrenic nature you experience is probably a couple of services in the cloud failing and the architecure compensating by establishing a consistent state for your mailbox eventually.

Or it could just be that you send 500+ messages a day from your inbox!

Cheers,

Zubin.

Jay Small

The IMAP service periodically cuts out. Also, if you have users who rely on IMAP, they will find the inability to control spam filtering strength via regular mail clients frustrating.

Jonathan

We`re using G apps for your domain to run our blog and website.
So far, we haven`t had any troubles with Emails not being sent or anything like that.
The real issue for us is that the integration between the regular website management tools that google provides is very poorly done.
For example, I`d hoped it would be a lot easier to add google analytics for our website.
I guess Google doesn`t agree with me. It`s not even possible to create an account with our domain users.
Google Sites is one of the worst web builders I`ve ever used!
This was such a disappointment. It was the first time I`d used a google application and didn`t say “you little genius”
We were intending to write about this on our blog, and might still will.

Stacey

I’ve been using Gmail for personal mail (and for some of my freelance work) since back in the day when you had to get a personal invite to sign up for an account, and I love it. I use the web mail when I’m traveling and download it into Outlook when I’m at home and aside from the occasional Outlook download delay, rarely see problems. And I agree with one user’s comment on here about the spam filter, it’s a rare occasion when any junk gets past the spam folder, and I run three separate Gmail accounts. All said, I imagine for a business there must be larger challenges than I face as a personal user, but I’d take Gmail over my former yahoo or hotmail accounts any day of the week.

GMelton

OM,

I use GMail for sending mail for one of my domains. I recently discovered the 500 email-a-day limit, too. I hit this limit on a test email account which I know for a fact sent less then 100 emails total since I created it.

I uncovered some additional info that if you use the bcc field your account could could also be flagged in some sorts. Apparently, there’s another anti-spam feature if you address more then 50-recipients at a time, too.

To me, these are BS restrictions. Upgrading to the premium service just raises the 500 email limit to 2000. So, you could still pay all your hard earned cash and be left with the same, intermittent problem.

Hopefully, your post solicits some sort of response from Google. I think the service in general is really good. Although, I bet the volume of email I generate is slim-to-none compared to Team GigaOM.

gekko

I have 4 Google Apps mail accounts — along with my personal gmail account. For the past few weeks all the accounts (as well as others in our distributed workforce) have been the recipient of extremely slow response and “Oops…” errors. Sending large files is taking longer (the attach and upload), and it’s happening cross platform (PC/Mac).

Jeremy Wright

Massive issues here too Om. Same kind of situation. The only issue we regularly see is Gmail crashing IE7 with an “Operation aborted” error (crossed multiple laptops, OS’s, etc).

Amit

So here’s my questions – what does the $1200/month support buy you? Would Google Support analyze your mail flow and determine the bottleneck/root cause? Could you essentially sign up for their support for a couple months, have them determine and resolve the issue, and then drop back to the free edition?

cd

“Messages are either not getting sent or being lost by the system. Several people have complained about not receiving replies, even after we have sent them back.”

I guess I glad to hear that we’ve been experiencing the same thing. Am in the middle of trying to debug this. Very frustrating.

Chris

If Gmail sucked once, then Outlook sucked a thousand times. I use Google Apps for the last three years, so far no problems. There are occasional hiccups but it is not a big deal. Google will soon fix the problems if any.

Social Marketing Journal

Sorry to hear that Gmail has not been kind to you — we must admit, we have had NO problems since acquiring the service as our email platform about 2 years ago!

Yves

I use with success Goggle Apps premium version since 6 months (I was an early adopter of the free gmail too).

However, I regret the lack of integration between Google Apps account and normal Gmail accounts.

I also regret the fact that I can’t use my Goggle Apps account in free service such as Google Groups. There is a workaround where you create a Gmail account with your Gooogle Apps email but honestly, for a paid version …

Adam C.

I’ve been having nothing but issues with Google Apps Gmail. I’m looking into getting off there and onto a friend’s colo box.

I’ve not only had unresponsiveness, but it appears that some mail systems are refusing to accept mail from Google App’s SMTP servers.

-Adam

Nick

I’m thinking about moving from Gmail myself. I’m fed up with random errors and the growing number of domains who bounce back saying that google is listed for spamming.

And when is Gmail officially out of beta? C’mon – it’s been at least 4 years!

Arron Lorenz

I have yet to find something I don’t like about gmail apps. So far I have it integrated with 4 different domains and all run very smoothly!

Chris

With all the bad press for Yahoo! lately I hate to say it, but I still like Yahoo! better. I have tried Gmail and can’t get used to it. Tech issues aside, I just don’t like it.

DC

Om: we are having similar problems with Google Apps for our domain. IMAP and Outlook problems, lost email or late delivery. It’s very frustrating.

Chris Mancini

I use gmail for my domain, but not google apps. I use pop3 technology to retrieve my email from the server into the GMail interface and I have never had any complaints. This way I can use GMail with my domain and it is free.

Chris

XzYyZzBugger

I don’t know about you Om, but I’ve been using the public version of GMail for a lot of time now, and it appears that none of the problems you mention happen. :)

Dave

Ever since they updated G-mail I’ve had continuous problems getting it to load, I have to either dump my browser cache or click the basic html option. Once in G-mail you do have the option to go back to the older version which works great, but you’re not able to set is as default(as far as I can see). G-mail is fantastic and I’d use it over any other mail system, I just wish they’d stop F-ing with it, it was fine in the first place.
Never had any lost mail either.

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