This is the bitter tale and painful lesson of loyalty undeserved and unrequited. I originally signed up for a free Yahoo email account over 9 years ago. It was the hot ticket in town. The dotcom bubble had not burst and Yahoo was the darling of the tech world. They were the epitome of fashion forward with voice chat and instant messaging for the common man. I jumped on the bandwagon for a ride.
For years, I maintained my free email account and enjoyed the pleasure of chat with my friends and family. I started a free private group for my family to keep in touch across the miles. And after year after year of enjoying the free services of Yahoo, I joined the ranks of the paying customers at Yahoo to fulfill my version of the American Dream. I started my own Internet business and despite the admonition of other tech savvy friends, I stuck with my old standby Yahoo and purchased 5 domains and their Merchant Solutions package.
A year later my business, Fresh From the Farm, has made reasonable headway in the shoulder-to-shoulder jungle of SEO, traffic and conversion. I have no market presence other than my Internet store and as we closed the books on our fiscal year my son and I saw our combined efforts paying off. We were proudly looking forward to our company's one-year anniversary having achieved above average page rank and most search engines knowing who we were. Aunt Ann's Garden Soap became an official sponsor for breastcancer.org and was exceptionally ranked by the Environmental Work Groups Skin Deep database. Things were going well. That's when it happened.
Yahoo's Merchant Solutions requires that it be linked to a free email account. There is no independent access available. When I signed up with them for web hosting they told me I had to use my personal account. So, I did. I have had on going trouble attempting to synchronize my business account with my own mail client. It was bothersome but I was confident enough in Yahoo to work without a net. (I know second mistake. My first mistake was going with Yahoo despite what I had heard. This is what happens when a good nerd goes bad.) There was even a harbinger of my fate. A friend of mine had his free email account hijacked and Yahoo told him all he could do was abandon his existing account and open another. In my naivety, I was sure that wouldn't happen to me because Merchant Solutions would protect me.
Two days ago, I discovered that my email account had been hijacked and some of the verification information had been changed. Not all of it but some of it; my date of birth, my dog's name and my zip code. There was no one I could talk to. I was told to open another email account and email the security team. I did. I emailed an explanation of what happened and how it happened. This is what they told me repeatedly in five emails:
"Account privacy and security is an important concern of Yahoo!. One of the ways we protect accounts from unauthorized access is by denying account assistance to individuals who contact us but are unable to match the information that was entered during the registration process...We need to be able to verify *all* the information currently registered on your account in order to assist with access to it. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes, but we adhere to these guidelines in order to protect the privacy and security of all our user's accounts. If you are unable to provide this information, you do have the option of opening a new account."
After a year of payments to Yahoo Merchant Solutions and a myriad of verifiable information exchanged via banking transactions, phone numbers, etc. Yahoo left me, my son, our company and clients out in the cold to protect the pirates who hijacked my account and is currently holding my domains hostage.
In short, (I know it's a little late for that) to my customers and business partners I can only offer my profuse apologies for being foolish. To other would be Internet entrepreneurs I offer myself as an object lesson. Good Customer Service is the life and death of a business; giving and receiving. Go Daddy.com, save some rack space for me.