THE BUYER Mairi Clark, Campaign
Having left a full-time job on Campaign to go freelance, Mairi Clark
gave up her favourite perk: e-mail. Knowing that her joke repertoire
would suffer, she decided to set up her own e-mail account. Here, she
My main reason for choosing Hotmail was not the cost (whoopee! - it’s
completely free) but the accessibility that its mail retrieval
I’d seen several of its online ads and it seemed to be the youngest and
funkiest of the free-mail providers. Plus, the support of its developer,
Microsoft, gave me confidence.
Signing up was easy - you pick your address, answer a few unobtrusive
questions and you’re online. Hotmail is free because of the advertising
it carries, and the questionnaire allows you to be carefully targeted by
its advertisers, although how they figured that I’d want tulips
delivered from Holland is a mystery.
Then came the ultimate test - sending an e-mail. I sent a cheerful ’I’m
online!’ mail to a mate who has the most high-speed computer set-up that
I know of. Four hours later, when they still hadn’t received it, my
cheerfulness was beginning to wane.
Hotmail’s support system initially impressed me, as I received a reply
within an hour of e-mailing it to request help. I then selected one of
the 50 or so troubleshooting questions, and sat back to wait for the
Three days later I got a ’we’ve received your request for help in
sending mail - it’s on its way’ mail and seven days later, as I write
this, I still haven’t had the help. However, all the other e-mails I’ve
sent to friends have arrived.
Hotmail seems to be a victim of its own success, as the more users it
gets the harder it becomes to get into the system, but that says it must
have something over its competitors. As I’m now considering opting for a
less over-subscribed free-mail operator, why should I stay with
THE SELLER Nickie Smith, Hotmail
Nickie Smith, the marketing director for Hotmail, tells Mairi why she
should remain with the free-mail operator.
Yes, we have experienced a slowing down of the site, but I can assure
you we are working to implement an ongoing plan of upgrades to increase
the network capacity to meet demand and deliver a better customer
We have 40 million users worldwide and take-up of Hotmail
internationally has been phenomenal - more than we could have
The reason for this incredible growth is due to the great benefits
Hotmail delivers such as web-based Free McAfee Virus Scan; integration
with Outlook Express; automatic transfer of POP3 e-mail (from other
e-mail providers) to your Hotmail mailbox; members’ directory; it’s
permanent (it can be for life); and it’s accessible anywhere in the
world from an internet-enabled PC.
Localised language support in French, German and Japanese has also been
We’ve found that our users’ main worry was security, which we’ve
addressed by introducing a ’Shared Computers Security’ option which
means when you view your Hotmail messages on a shared or public
computer, they are kept private after you leave the computer. Hotmail
members can activate a log-in option that expires pages from the
browser’s cache when a member logs out of their account.
Users can also choose stationery from 17 fun and colourful backgrounds
on which they can send personalised messages to family and friends. Once
a message is composed, the Hotmail member can click ’preview’ to view
the message with a stationery background chosen from designs such as
’chess’, ’jungle’, ’paw print’ and many others.
And a new option for the US is ’mappings’. It allows Hotmail members to
access maps and driving directions for addresses in their address book.