Yahoo Delayed Response more Troubling than Email Outage?

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allthingsdAs detailed in hundreds of news stories this week, Yahoo Mail has experienced a major technology disaster that has left many users without email access since Monday night. Yahoo’s photo-sharing service Flickr has also crashed following the massive Yahoo Mail outage.


As of 3 a.m. EST December 12, Yahoo’s @Yahoomail Twitter account said service is still down for some users. For those who do have access to their accounts, Yahoo estimates that 30 percent of emails sent during the mail outage have been delivered.

With Yahoo’s mail service down since late Monday (Dec. 9) and promised deadlines to fix it come and gone, users are furious. But none may be as upset as small business owners who use Yahoo mail as their business email — their primary tool to communicate with customers has effectively been shut down two weeks before Christmas.

What better place to vent frustrations than Twitter? Many users have taken to the social network to tell @yahoomail exactly how they feel and how the disaster is affecting their businesses.”

Etsy webshops and business owners were further alarmed when some were able to gain access to their accounts, only to discover that all email received since the outage is missing.

Facebook User: “Progress is being made! Now instead of error 14 I’m getting error 15. That’s good, right?”

Yahoo Mail, which services nearly 300 million monthly users, has done little to quiet the growing outrage from many of its users.  Problems with the mail service started as far back as two weeks ago with some users being unable to send or receive mail since November 25th.  The problems reached a peak this week when the service was interrupted entirely for thousands of users.  The exact number of affected accounts has not been disclosed but a public Yahoo support forum complaint thread has received 2,439 votes to-date and has over 1,000 active participants.

A quick look at the Yahoo Mail Facebook page shows increasing frustration by users seeking answers amid Yahoo’s posts announcing new features and benefits of its revamped email. As one user expressed All I want to do is read my emails. I do not want to keep being asked to upgrade (my system will not support this) At present I cannot get into my emails. I am not happy.”

Finally, on December 11th after virtual silence on the continuing outages, Yahoo posted this message:


We are very sorry for recent difficulties with Yahoo Mail.

Some of our users have not been able to access their mail since 10:27 PM PST on Monday night, due to a hardware problem in one of our mail data centers. The issue has been harder to fix than we originally expected.

We have dozens of people working around the clock to bring it to a resolution. We believe our current efforts will restore our users’ access to their inboxes by 3 pm PST today.  We’ll post again then on our @YahooMail Twitter handle.

by Jeffrey Bonforte, SVP of Communication Products

UPDATE: Please check our Help page for the latest information. (last updated on 12/12, 3:30 pm Pacific Time)

While the initial outages and issues for users began in late-November (some as early as early October), it was not until December 10th that the first messages from Yahoo via social media and on their Support Blog began appearing.
This delay in outreach, especially in a day and age where we have the ability to deliver instant communication, has been unacceptable for Yahoo Mail users.


Yahoo’s response, or lack thereof, has been far more damaging than the outage itself. 

As reported by Violet Blu for Pulp Tech: “

How did Yahoo fix the redesign problems for tens of thousands of users who submitted bugs and issues to the Tell us what you think about Yahoo Mail page?

Yahoo simply closed all the threads referred to in the press, and stamped “COMPLETED” on each one of them.

“Please bring back tabs” with 104,142 votes and 10,589 comments is one example of many.

Effective crisis communication is a crucial element in effective crisis management and should assume a central role from the start.  It establishes employee and client confidence in the ability of a company to deal with a crisis and to bring about a rapid resolution. Effective crisis communication is also integral to the larger process of information exchange aimed at eliciting trust and promoting understanding of the relevant issues or actions.

We have said this time and time again – Effective Crisis Communication aids understanding by:

  • Guiding appropriate decisions, actions and behaviors
  • Improving knowledge and understanding
  • Encouraging collaboration and cooperation
  • Building, maintaining or restoring trust

None of the above happened in this situation.

PREDICT – Who is the audience & what are their concerns?

PLAN – Tailor message, messenger, and media format to the stakeholder

PERFORM – Focus on 3 key messages

Yahoo Mail status
Update 12/12/13  3:30 pm PST

We are continuing to deliver queued messages and work on resolving all other outstanding issues.  We’ll provide updates here when we have more to share.
Update 12/12/13  12:00 pm PST

Here’s our latest update: We can confirm that 97% of affected users have access to their Mail accounts on web, POP and the Yahoo Mail iOS, Android and Windows 8 apps. For these users, we have delivered 80% of their queued messages that were sent from 10:27 PM PT on 12/9 until now.

We’re aware that some users are still having trouble accessing their accounts. We’re working tirelessly to restore access to their accounts.

We would like to clarify that for users impacted by this outage, their Yahoo Mail was working normally from 11/25-12/9. We’re still working on restoring messages that were delivered during this time.


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