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Solving the E-mail Musical Chairs Dilemma



If you remember the kids' game "Musical Chairs" you were around long before Pentium chips!

In that game 10 kids walk around 9 chairs and when the music stops the kid that doesn't get a chair is out. And then one chair is removed and the process is repeated until only one kid has a chair--- that kid was the winner.

Today on line people are playing a very similar game with their e mail addresses. It goes like this---

Oscar Online wants to switch service providers ( the company we sign on with to connect us to Cyberspace). This could be an online service like Compuserve - or a direct Internet provider like ATT, Earthlink etc.

The problem is when he changes service providers he must also change e-mail address. It's like moving to a new house--- new address and all of the notifying that goes with it.

This can get pretty expensive for a business that just 6 months ago reprinted all of it's stationary, brochures, fax cover sheets and business cards because I preached to them in this column to put their web page and e-mail addresses on these items.

Why do people and companies change e-mail providers? Easy-it's usually a matter of cost, connectivity or service. A less expensive deal, better quality connections-or a broader geographic availability for those who travel--- or dissatisfaction with technical or customer service. Or some combination of these.

Some pretty smart people observed the problem of switching and came up with a solution. They invented "permanent" e-mail addresses. And for the most part they set it up so it's free.

Here's how it works- Lets say that "bigfoot is the permanent forwarder you choose-

  1. You are assigned a "permanent" address such as joesmith @bigfoot.com.

  2. You redo your stationary, business cards etc. showing your new address (you were going to do this anyway).

  3. You provide bigfoot with your e-mail address at your new provider (ex: joesmith@earthlink.com).

  4. All your mail which people are now sending to you at your Bigfoot address is automatically and instantaneously forwarded to you at Earthlink.

"This all great you say, but why go to all that trouble?"

The two main reasons are:

(1) The next time you change service providers (and the chances are that you will), all you have to do is notify "Bigfoot" of your new address. A quick fax or e-mail does it. The cost to you is pennies rather than the hundreds or thousands of dollars in cost associated with redoing all of your materials!

(2) When you change next time no one will even know. They will not have to change all of their records.

How to get a permanent e-mail address: There are dozens of services now providing this service --- many at no cost, and some guaranteeing no cost for a "lifetime" account. I did a search in AltaVista and came up with 100 "hits" on the words "permanent e-mail". Although I didn't pursue all of them here are a few of the ones being talked about and their Internet addresses:

Bigfoot

US Mailbox

Realtown

Another source of permanent e-mail provider information is an autoresponder that will send you a list of 50 providers with a URL for each so you can comparison shop. Simply send an e mail to: fwdlist@NetDirectories.com to get the list.

Some of the things to consider in choosing a permanent e-mail address are the stability, reliability and reputation of the forwarder and the presence or absence of advertising in the forwarded mail.

This is a rapidly evolving Cyberspace wrinkle and a service that can save you significant costs and aggravation when changing musical chairs in Cyberspace.

PS You may have noticed my new e-mail address below (bostonjack@earthlink.com) - I haven't changed my stationary yet!