THE BUYER Mairi Clark, Campaign

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

tries Hotmail.

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.


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