Vodafone says it will switch off auto-forwarding for Vodafone Mail - despite promising free forwarding for life.

The telco canned its free Vodafone Mail in 2017 after it had failed to resolve spam and delayed email issues for its 200,000 or so active users.

Then consumer director Matt Williams said customers had told the firm its email service was not delivering on expectations.

"That's simply not good enough for us," Williams said. Attempts to upgrade Vodafone Mail had met with "little success" due to the age of the platform.


"We've made the decision to close the service and connect customers who need a hand setting up a new account to the email experts, Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook," Williams said.

A key part of that helping hand was to offer auto-forwarding from a Vodafone Mail address to a new Gmail or Outlook, and the promise that the forwarding would not expire.

Vodafone said last night that 150,000 customers have setup auto-forwarding since late 2017.

"The 'indefinitely' in this case has turned out to be less than two years," says Consumer NZ research head Jessica Wilson. Photo / File.

"Customers relying on the auto-forwarding service are likely to find the change inconvenient," Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson says.

"They'll need to make sure they arrange for emails to be sent direct to their current email, rather than to their old Vodafone address. But doing this will be a better option than relying on a forwarding service."

While it's not a good look for Vodafone - "The "indefinitely" in this case has turned out to be less than two years," Wilson quips - the Consumer NZ research head says by explaining its reasons and giving a long lead time, Vodafone is meeting its legal requirements.

Why the switch-off?

Vodafone said in a statement this morning, "When we discontinued our email service in 2017, we said we would offer auto-forwarding for customers indefinitely.

"However, since then, the growth in spam and phishing type email attacks has resulted in
major email platforms and others putting increasingly strict rules and technologies in place to protect users.


"This has led, and will continue to lead, to a growing incidence of forwarded emails being treated as spam or blocked from reaching our customers' new inboxes altogether."

An effort to get Vodafone Mail white-listed with all providers has apparently proved too tricky (or too time-consuming and expensive).

Vodafone says it's easing the way by giving its customers by giving them 120 days notice (the switch-off will happen on August 21).

Who'll get hit

Vodafone's 2017 email axing, and subsequent auto-forward axing, affected its inhouse Vodafone Mail service, plus several webmail services it inherited when it bought smaller ISPs. You'll be affected if your email address ends with one of the following:

Email platforms affected:
• vodafone.co.nz
• vodafone.net.nz
• ihug.co.nz
• wave.co.nz
• quik.co.nz
• pcconnect.co.nz
• paradise.net.nz
• clear.net.nz
• es.co.nz

Free email services were a craze with ISPs in the 1990s then into the 2000s as a value-add - but diminished in appeal when Google beefed up the free version of its Gmail service to offer nearly unlimited storage, and Microsoft and others followed suit.

Spark persisted with its "Xtra" mail, despite spam and phishing problems - perhaps because it's one way to keep customers in the fold (unlike your mobile number when you switch phone networks, you can't take an inhouse email address with you when you switch ISPs).

Over 2016 and 2017, Spark spent millions moving Xtra mail from original host Yahoo to local outfit SMX, backed by Sam Morgan. Since then, it's been reasonably well behaved.

Vodafone NZ is currently undergoing a major restructure to get the company in shape for a sharemarket listing in the New Year.

Chief executive Jason Paris says he'll update before the end of this month, but has already flagged that there will be significant redundancies and that some positions could be offshored.