An email address is pretty much a necessity these days and there are plenty of ways to get one. When you sign up for broadband with an ISP (BT, for example) they will typically offer you an email address. I still come across a lot of people using these addresses, but I would like to put the case for why using this (certainly as your main contact address) is a very bad idea no matter if you’re a consumer or a business.
At least one of the reasons applies equally to both consumers and business and that’s simply that if you move providers, you can’t take your address with you. That might not sound like much, but remember how many services you sign up with using your email address. What happens if you forget a password and want to reset it? Or miss an important reminder/update as the email address not longer exists? What about all those people who have you in their contacts under that address?
And it’s not just you, there’s everyone else in the family/business who uses addresses for the service.
For businesses it’s even worse, not only would a change in ISP mean you’re uncontactable, it may end up costing you a lot of money in missed business or fines/charges because you didn’t receive important emails.
So what happens? Well, you end up being unable to move for fear of losing emails, so you can’t switch to take advantage of better deals elsewhere, so it ends up costing you money (and hassle if the service is particularly poor).
Another good reason not to use it is that they often lack features compared to those offered by third parties. For example, most of the free services allow you to access your email from mobile devices, whereas ISP email can be limited to accesing only via a web browser.
Even if they do let you use it with an email client or your smartphone, it’s usually older protocols so you may end up reading the same email twice or having to go searching for the device you downloaded one on if you want to check it later. Not to mention things like advanced spam filters to help fight junk mail and rules to help you stay organised.
They’re also limited in size too, in order to restrict how much you store on there as well. How do you feel about spending a few hours trawling through old emails trying to figure out which ones to keep and which to delete?
Less so these days they, but they can also limit you to a single email address, which isn’t great if you have multiple family members or business users.
Most of the common names are gone from ISP mail, so you’ll probably end up with some weird concoction that includes numbers, parts of both your first and last names and random characters. That makes it hard for people to remember your address (even you) and can look unprofessional when giving it out to potential employers, suppliers or partners.
For businesses, it marks you out as a small business and undermines consumer confidence (in the same way having only a mobile number listed does). When a domain name will cost you much less than £10 a year is it really an expense you want to avoid?
For consumers you have two options, the first is to use a free service such as Hotmail, or my favourite, Gmail. These have the benefit of being accessible from any ISP, plus they generally have much better interfaces, a greater number of features and better uptime, if nothing else because this is their primary function. They also have the benefit of integrating with other services such as calendars, documents and tasks.
The other alternative, and the only one for businesses really, is to register your own domain. Even an address from one of the free services doesn’t give a great image to customers, suppliers and partners. A paid email account can be had for as little as 99p a month. Trust me, it will more than pay for itself (I’d also recommend a website, which at a few pounds a month will also pay for itself in no time). Registering one is quick and easy, there really is no excuse. Want some help registering a domain name, I’ve got an article for that.