Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Email Account Closed - Access Denied! Part 1

Thursday morning, April 23, I tried to log into my Hotmail accounts and discovered that one of my accounts was closed sometime after the last time I had checked the account - about 9:30PM on April 22.

For some reason, my account had been closed due to violations of terms of use! For the life of me I have no idea what I could possibly have done, as the account is used for updates from a half dozen web sites and emails between a dozen or so on-line friends. I delete old addresses before forwarding, use BCC for multiple forwards, and only send to a few friends who actually want me to send them stuff.

The only real problem I have had with this account is that I have trouble reading the HIP tests. "What's a HIP test?", you ask. Human Interface Proof - HIP - are those really annoying, distorted letter/number combos that are used to supposedly distinguish a human from an auto generated account.

I suspected HIP, because I have so much trouble doing those damned tests. The distorted text is impossible on some, so it can take me 5 or 6 tries to find one that I think I can read AND do it correctly! It may be possible that the system had mistaken my numerous attempts as an automated account and labeled it as spam. In retrospect, I had actually been getting several of those tests over the previous few weeks.

Granted, there is an audio version available on most sites as an alternative for those of us with low vision - BUT, have you ever tried listening to any of those? They are insane if they think that it can be understood! The best way I can describe it is to think back to the old days when you would call certain phone numbers and you'd hear a busy signal but also hear several conversations in the background. Every few seconds, you'd hear someone trying to scream their personal phone number into the mix. Well, those were easier to understand as the audio HIP is even more garbled!
The error message that I get when I try to sign in says that I have to submit an email support form. I tried countless times to find the correct way to submit an email support form, but I COULD NOT find it!! I was so frustrated that I could not find the form or get the help to get this corrected. Every time I hit the "HELP" button at the bottom of the "account closed" page, it took me back to rather than to an email support form!

I made three requests to correct and reopen the incorrect closure of my account during the first five days. Two were sent to mhtml:%7B800FCD44-2A56-4965-93F0-6E8FA148951D%7Dmid://00000090/! and one through feedback on an FAQ page that I found on MSN. The only response I got was from the abuse section and that was yet another of those charming auto generated responses that says it will be looked into. ARGH!!

I contacted my service provider to help me set up another email account through their system and also explained the Hotmail problem to the tech. He offered to try and find the support form for me, so I gave him the necessary info. He couldn't find it either, so suggested I write directly to Microsoft. I made two requests to Microsoft, but just get directed to post my problem through

I set up an account and posted a request for help including a very detailed list of what I had already done. The response from the support team was to send a note to the abuse team! Are you kidding me? They obviously hadn't bothered reading my full request and I politely said as much in my reply. Again, an apology for inconvenience, but only the abuse team had the power to reopen accounts. They were backlogged but would eventually get to everyone. Yeah right!

I also read several other posts regarding the incorrect closure of accounts and found that all are directed through the abuse section BUT some people were still waiting for responses two, three five or more weeks later!! This is first come first serve so even if you have a business account, you still have to wait till they get to you!

I felt like the hamster on it's wheel and I had no way of getting off!!
I just wanted to get the personal messages and other info from my account that could not be replaced. Luckily, I had other accounts through other systems and I had some email addresses from the closed account saved, but not all.

Another part of the problem for me, was that when I set up the Hotmail account in early 2008, I was running low on space on my old PC. Therefore, I didn't always save everything to my PC. The Hotmail account provided 5gig of FREE space so I took full advantage of it. When I did get a new PC last November, I did transfer a few things, but never got around to sorting and transferring everything. I was too busy doing Christmas baking and getting used to using Vista. I pretty much forgot how much was stored there until I couldn't get to it. That was when I really realized how much was on there.

Was I ever going to get access to that account again? I checked the comments on various threads in the Solution Center several times over the next couple of weeks. I certainly wasn't alone with my problem and frustration but I still wanted to find the stupid support form that the error message says to fill out.

It took awhile, but finally on Sunday, May 17. I found a post that gave me a glimmer of hope. My next post (June 6, 2009) will explain what I found and how I got my account back.


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