May 14, 1997 1:15 PM PDT
Prodigy email outage fixed
Incoming email was completely down for 48 hours following system maintenance to Prodigy Classic Sunday morning. Incoming mail was restored at 9:30 a.m. ET yesterday and the backlog cleared at about 3 a.m. ET today, Prodigy spokeswoman Carol Wallace said.
The outage did not affect outgoing mail or members who have switched to Prodigy's Internet-based service, Wallace said. Classic users could exchange email with other Classic members during the outage, though they could not receive messages from outside the service.
One woman who runs an Internet-based antiques business said mail from customers has been delayed since Sunday. She said she tried to get information from Prodigy about when it would be back up, but had trouble doing so.
"We are being told nothing and my customers are being told nothing and are probably wondering, 'What kind of dealer doesn't respond to her mail?'" said Anne Rybka. During the outage, Rybka said she spoke with other people both on the phone and on chat and found that people had no idea there was an outage.
"Having problems is one thing. It happens. I have been a systems analyst for 16 years. I don't envy their position, but this is smelling of someone trying to keep it quiet."
Wallace said that Prodigy kept members informed through internal bulletin boards, but employees at Prodigy itself did not know when email service would be restored and therefore could not inform customers.
Rybka and others said Prodigy could have sent email to its customers through internal mail but failed to do so.
"What we did was we concentrated on a solution to the problem," Wallace responded. "We did not know we would be holding it up for two days."
She added that she did not have an exact number of complaints, but that the service was not swamped with angry users. "We have a very, very active membership. If a majority of members were up in arms about it, believe me, we'd know about it. But the people we have heard from, we take very seriously."
Prodigy is not the only online service to experience problems with email. In fact, earlier this week, America Online (AOL) was clearing up a major snafu in which it unintentionally blocked list mail going to AOL.
AOL uses a filter called PrefferedMail to block junk email; it inadvertently configured it so that it was blocking some incoming list mail, according to spokeswoman Tricia Primrose.
Microsoft Network also has experienced serious email problems. MSN had to completely shut down its email for several days last month while it replaced its servers.
Prodigy Classic is the company's older, proprietary online service. It is still more popular than the company's newer Net-based service, Prodigy Internet, which was introduced last October.
Wallace added that most of Prodigy's 1 million members still subscribe to Prodigy Classic.