Blog Post

Promise me you won't fail like this

UPDATE: after just over 2 days, all of my whining may have paid off. I woke up 12/15 to find my GMail working again. I would like to think a Google employee who contacted me on Twitter got it fixed or at least escalated for me.

If you can’t read what that says, here it is:
Temporary Error(500)
Weโ€™re sorry, but your Gmail account is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes.

Well, 2 days later, not a few minutes, it is still dead. So I did what everyone else would do in a situation like this, I head to Tech Support. Yeah, like you, I couldn’t find a clear tech support channel either. I did find a bunch of documentation that didn’t pertain to the situation, and what documentation I did find, didn’t help the situation. Well, luckily I found a contact link, actually I found 2, maybe 3, different contact links, to report the issue. So I did, all 3 times. I waited with another email account, thanks Yahoo! for working! And I am still waiting, over 24 hours later. Next step, the amazing Google Forums, or whatever the hell they call that.

So I post my problem initially with a subject of Temporary Error(500) – Numeric Code: 93. This didn’t even draw in a response. So, I did something I can’t stand, I said screw bumping the thread, let me create one with a subject that shows a little panic. I added the info they asked for, I told them everything I have gone to from Google and GMail to rectify the situation, and none of it works. Wouldn’t you know, my subject draws someone in, and their first response is:

Did you check this link? Have you done this?

At this point I have steam coming out of my ears. How in the hell could you ask me that question if you read my initial post? How? I don’t get it? Supposedly this person is a ‘Level 4’, whatever the hell that means. I think they give you a level by the amount of posts you get. I did a little research on this person, and wouldn’t you know it, they are doing the same shit in every one of the other HELP ME! posts in the forums. Oh, this is part of the reason I can’t stand forums.

I have done everything. I hit Twitter, messaged people who work on GMail, everything, except fly to Mountain View and grab the first ass I saw riding some foldable bicycle coming out of one of their numerous gyms or campus hot spots there, and choking them until my GMail worked again. So now I have resorted to my blog, and I am hoping that just 1 of the 3 people who read my blog, knows someone who knows someone.

I am seriously at a standstill here. Everyone of my email addresses forward to my GMail account. It is kind of like my digital lifeline. I have a few major tasks, one including Christmas presents and lists, that I have to do like yesterday, but I can’t. I have an Android that is damn near useless to me right now, except for Angry Birds and Bubble Blast 2.

OK, so to my other point. What ever we all do with this wonderful world of free and open source software, lets never get this bad when it comes to getting some sort of support for a free product. Yes, we have docs, we have forums, we have IRC, and we have, well we have everything one needs to get something fixed. I don’t think in all of my years of working on Linux, Ubuntu/Kubuntu, KDE, you name it, I have had to wait a day, let alone 2 or more, to get something fixed. Well, get something fixed that is as important as your email. If you want to make sure you don’t fail with your product, just head over to GMail support, look it over, and promise not only yourself, but everyone of your users, that you will never be like that!

OK, my venting, or dribble, is done here. Everyone enjoy your day and the rest of your week!

NOTE: I have another GMail account for cycling stuff that works perfectly. I have tried no less than 6 other browsers, 2 other operating systems, cleared cache, history, cookies, and candy bars.

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  • foo

    Yay for the cloud!

  • Heh, my thoughts exactly. Neither of my Google based cloud devices are worth a damn right now :/

  • Just asking

    I assume you have tried IMAP and POP3? Just asking.

  • Just asking, yes. I use IMAP mainly to pull my mail in using offlineimap and then read it with Mutt. That hasn’t been working, my Android GMail isn’t working, nothing is working.

  • Google is suprisingly bad when it comes to customer support. If I remember correctly, the forum *is* their customer support.

  • Aaron Seigo

    this is an inevitable result of the impersonal closed cloud. and it sucks.

    what i find very interesting is that this is by _far_ not the first time i’ve heard this exact sort of story. not even the first (or even close to the first) for google apps.

    when i note this phenomenon to people to who try to “sell us all on the cloud” they just kind of blink-blink-don’t-care back.

    unless it hits them, of course. then they will care. until then, most people act like it never happens, or if it does it must only happen to a few mystical unicorn people and not really matter.

    sadly, it happens often enough to real people, like you, and it causes great havoc in their lives, like you are experiencing now.

    sorry to hear about the situation dude … we need a personal and open cloud. just like we need f/oss on our desktops, servers, etc. i do hope you get this fixed soon. :/

  • Aaron, so true! I appreciate the sentiment!

    David, that is a sad, sad thing. Their forums are awful, filled with people who are not helpful the least bit, but even worse is they aren’t filled with Google/GMail people who can fix the problem. Only answer I have gotten thus far is, “Just keep trying!” Yeah, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Robert

    Regarding POP3/IMAP.
    I won’t say about IMAP, but have you tried POP3?
    Does it/doesn’t it work? In what way? Incorrect password? Any other cryptic error message?
    Just telnetting there and issuing some basic commands or using any MUA?

    Sorry if that’s not helpful, just dropped a suggestion.


  • Robert, I can’t do POP3, because in order to do so, I need to enable it in GMail settings, which I can’t do since I can’t even get in. I have never had telnet success with Google mx servers in the past.

  • Thomas Olsen

    This (or something similar) happened to me some two years ago. It took me more than a month to get my gmail account back.
    I created a new gmail address and after mailbombing for some days I got this:

    date	Sat, Oct 4, 2008 at 8:09 PM
    subject	Re: [#344975642] I can't access my account
    hide details 10/4/08
    Thank you for your report. We've completed our investigation. Because our
    investigation was inconclusive, we are unable to return your account at
    this time. We've disabled access to this account for your security. Please
    note that disabling protects your account from further abuse. If you used
    orkut with this account, we've deleted the orkut profile. At Google we
    take the privacy and security of our users very seriously. For this
    reason, we're unable to reveal any further information about this account.
    If you have additional information about your account, we encourage you to
    visit and
    submit another report. Be sure to provide as much information as possible
    about the account. If you're not sure about something, provide your best
    Note: if you use AdWords, AdSense, or Google Checkout with your
    account, please contact AdWords, AdSense or Checkout support directly
    at these URLs:

    Some +30 days later they reenabled my account…

  • non7top

    could you please provide a links to a “support forum” you’ve found

  • Mez


    poke me and I’ll pass you on the “service unavailable” number for enterprise support.. They may not fix your problem without having enterprise support, but – I’d hope that they’d be able to point you in the right direction to get it sorted.

  • Ow, that’s bad ๐Ÿ™ I’ll try to talk to some friends that work on Google.
    I had a similar problem with “twitter” (not as critical as yours), but it’s the same issue. I was thinking about a post, now I’m sure to do it ๐Ÿ˜›


  • Olivier


    I’ve just seen this trick that may (you never know…) fix your problem. Hope this’ll help.


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  • Nixternal, what happened to you would be my worst nightmare (losing access to GMail).

    This is why I plan to get a “Google Business Account”, it gives you some extra safety, backups, and such. Unfortunately they don’t make it easy to get this:

    It’s cheap (40 bucks per year or so), but you need your own domain, for some reason, and some other weird requirements. Anyway, your post has reminded me that I need to do this ASAP…

  • Sergey B.

    Hey nixternal!

    Man, I feel for you. Had the same problem some weeks ago and after hours of hassling was able to sort it all out. I just sent you my extended gmail unlock tutorial via email.


  • Victor

    >Sergey B. said on December 15th, 2010 at 09:05:49
    >I just sent you my extended gmail unlock tutorial via email.

  • Jim

    Just a thought – and this would not remedy your Android issue – but if eMail is so vital to you, why rely on *any* free web-based provider? With all of the open source options out there, surely you could set up an expensive (and very reliable) home eMail server. At least you would be able to fix whatever problems might come up along the way without depending on the magic cloud for your fix.

  • Hey everyone! Yeah, every one of the tips & tricks posted I have tried. Finally, all of my whining on Twitter seems to have possibly worked. This morning I go to get in my GMail, and wouldn’t you know it, it is working ๐Ÿ™‚

    Last night a Google TV employee contacted me on Twitter to try and help out. Don’t know if she helped out, but right now I would like to think she did, so I will give all the thanks to her.

  • Sorry to hear that you’ve had all these issues.

    To prevent recurrence: Hosted (paid) email accounts are quite inexpensive. They’re likely a better option for your mission-critical email. Try to go with a hosting company that is local, so in the event of a failure you have a real (physical) address that you can visit.


  • Hey Mark, FYI, people with the business accounts also had this same issue according to some posts in their forums as well. The one thing that the business account gives you I think is direct access to support, someone here, I think Mez (without scrolling up), brought this up.

    I don’t mind a digital break to be honest, but the timing right now couldn’t have been worse, with a huge cycling project I am directing right now as well as the holidays quickly approaching.

    Randall, I have this host here with email, and I have it forwarded to GMail as well. GMail has just been wicked convenient. And seeing how low I am on funds, I am not sure if I will be able to maintain my website in the future. I think I owe on it now but don’t have the funds right now to pay for it. Thankfully Dreamhost doesn’t just shut down your account, they work with you and are a great company. Another reason why I added the “Donate” button up top, however I don’t want to be one of those people who paste it everywhere and expect a donation. I have made $0 in more than 15 years of working on open source, and it doesn’t bother me the least bit ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Unfortunately all of the “Free-mail” services are like this. I switched to Gmail from MSN/Hotmail because I was getting blank emails in Outlook, and the first time it took over a month for them to resolve it on their end. Then it happened a second time, and I was told that I needed to file a new support ticket (it was a hassle just to file the ticket the first time).

    Going through their forums was like pulling teeth. Their “moderators” (the supposed Microsoft employees) would pick answers and mark the thread as solved, even though the next reply was “That didn’t work.” They provided links that didn’t work….

    I haven’t used Yahoo or the others nearly as much, but I’m sure their support isn’t any better.

    You’re absolutely right though. If you provide a product or service, provide support. And I would go so far as to say “treat your free users the same way you treat your highest paying clients.” Why? Because they will recommend (or slam) your product or service to others. Including people who may pay for your product or service.

    Have a great day:)

  • Just a thought – and this would not remedy your Android issue – but if eMail is so vital to you, why rely on *any* free web-based provider? With all of the open source options out there, surely you could set up an expensive (and very reliable) home eMail server. At least you would be able to fix whatever problems might come up along the way without depending on the magic cloud for your fix.

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