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On Principle

Entry 593, on 2007-08-23 at 19:17:29 (Rating 3, Computers)

The New Zealand market for Internet service is dominated by one provider: Xtra. They are by far the most popular provider and, in my opinion, by far the worst. This weekend they attempted to update their email system and now, almost a week later, some people still have no email. Email is an essential service to most Internet users now and outages of more than an hour are really just totally unacceptable.

But anyone who uses Xtra as their service provider then uses the same company for their email is really asking for trouble. If that person wanted to switch providers they would also need to use a new email address, which is often impractical. Some providers will allow you to keep an email address with them for free even if they're not your service provider, but Xtra won't of course.

So the thing I advise anyone who signs up with a new service provider to do is to get a gmail, yahoo, etc email address. Anything that is independent of the company they connect to the Internet through will do. That way the process involved in moving to a new provider is much easier because they can continue using the same address.

But the problems with Xtra go away beyond this particular incident. Their helpdesk is often hard to contact and not very helpful (on the other hand, how many helpdesks are actually helpful?), their prices are too high, and the general performance of their services is average at best.

The problem is what I call the "Microsoft Effect". That is a company relying on their dominance to provide poor services or products at high prices because when they compete they use tactics like annoying advertising campaigns, locking people already using one services into using other services, and other nasty tricks. So I don't really need pragmatic reasons to avoid using products by companies like Xtra and Microsoft because I just naturally keep away from them on principle.

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