Most of the time, I like Gmail. I pay Google some small amount of money each year, and in exchange, for 363 days of the year, I don't have to worry about my email. It's like my cellphone, or tap water, or electricity, or the Internet: a comforting part of my existence when it's there, and a productivity-annihilating emergency when it's not.
I'm writing this of course because today (2013-02-07), I have no outbound Gmail service. Apparently, last October, Gmail updated my terms of service to indicate that if I should send an email message from my iPhone through my Gmail account to more than 100 people, Google is entitled to dock me a day of work by suspending my outbound email service for 24 hours. I can receive as much email as I like; I just can't reply to it using Gmail.
I should be okay with this, right? I did agree that my paying Google for email service does not impose any obligations on their part to provide email service, and that they can change their terms of service whenever and however they like. And I was fully aware that there is no way to contact anyone at Google to complain about anything, and nothing that you can do when Google's whim turns evil, other than to take the day off work or find an alternate email provider.
The last time I had a serious issue with Gmail service was a few months ago. I use Gmail's business email services for a company I am associated with. Gmail started bouncing the email I was sending from my personal address to my business address, saying that it thought it was spam. Other business contacts started saying that they too could not write to me because Google was rejecting their email as spam.
That time, I went through Google's recommended "support" process of wading through their "support" website until I found a "forum" of other online users who had experienced the same problem. We bitched about the problem for a while together. I guess some of us thought it was emotionally supportive. There was no one there with any technical knowledge or ability to solve the problem. After a while, I read the meta-message, and started shopping around for paid email service.
I still haven't found one that I'm happy with, but will update this page when I do. I guess in the end I'm happy to have learned some lessons about Google. You can't trust a company whose business model is based entirely on selling your personal information; Even when you're paying them for a service, the revenue they earn from you means so little to them, they will arbitrarily withhold the service and not even give you a way to complain. You shouldn't trust anyone whose slogan is "Don't be evil."; as Edmund Burke said, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. And all that is necessary for a Google user to have a day without email is for Google to consider them a source of advertising revenue worth ignoring rather than an opportunity to make the world a better place.