I’ve been using Mailblocks.com as my personal email account for a couple years now. In fact, in the early days, I was one of their paying customers. Unfortunately, Mailblocks recently sent me an email informing me that their new owner, AOL, would be shutting the service down.

All Mailblocks customers can transition to the new AIM Mail service immediately, because the Mailblocks email service will be discontinued on November 16, 2005. Per our Terms of Service, we are providing 30-days advance notice. The Mailblocks email service will be discontinued on November 16, 2005 and any future email after that date will be returned to the sender. Once the account is closed, there will be no way to gain access to the account and all the data will be permanently deleted.

Hang on a second! “Any future email after that date will be returned to the sender.” Come on! That has to be a mistake. Surely if I sign up for the new AIM account you can forward my old mail to me? I emailed this very question to the Mailblocks team and all they could come up with was a canned response telling me how “the Mailblocks service is designed to be the ???consolidator??? of all your email accounts.” That’s not much good if the service is being shut down. So…I emailed them again.

Did you even read my previous email? I got an email from you guys a few days ago saying you are canceling my mailblocks account. How can mailblocks act as a “consolidator” if you are shutting the service down? I’ll ask my question again. If I create a AOL email address, can you forward my mailblocks there after the mailblocks service has been shut down.

The response:

As stated in the email, the email servers will be deleted of all data and disassembled after November 16th. Due to this, email service or forwarded emails will not be available after that date.

I see. So…why on God’s green earth would I sign up for AOL mail? First you tell me you’re taking away my email address. Then you tell me that all my personal data is going to be deleted, permanently. And then, you try and muscle me into your new service with no real benefits for my previous loyalty.

Call me crazy, but doesn’t it seem odd that a company would use its shareholders money to buy a promising young company and then tell all of that company’s customers to screw off. Basically, play by our rules or don’t play at all. Still sounds pretty “walled garden” to me. Could you imagine if Yahoo said to all Flickr users – sorry, now that we have purchased Flickr we are going to delete all your photos. But you’re welcome to upload them again at our new Yahoo Photo service!

I don’t know how many Mailblocks subscribers there are, but obviously AOL doesn’t care. Ahhh, who needs customers anyway?