The Xtra fiasco: Yahoo! should be challenged to point to Eketahuna in contract discussions

Guess which one is the top Yahoo?

Guess which one is the top Yahoo?

Gotta express surprise that it has taken so long.

Telecom is reported (here) to be reviewing its email service with Yahoo! in the wake of the recent hacking scandal.

Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter is understood to have spoken to Yahoo’s global chief executive this week, expressing disappointment on behalf of his 450,000 customers.

The surprise should not be that his customers have been experienced big problems.

It’s that nobody at Telecom had the wit to wonder about the wisdom of signing on with a company called Yahoo!

The very name was a portent of trouble.

A definition (here) tells us –

yahoo [jəˈhuː]
n pl -hoos
a crude, brutish, or obscenely coarse person

The word is derived from the Yahoos in Gulliver’s Travels (here), written by Jonathan Swift in the days before we had PCs, the internet, Google and what-have-you.

Swift describes them as being filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver, who finds the calm and rational society of intelligent horses, the Houyhnhnms, far preferable. The Yahoos are primitive creatures obsessed with “pretty stones” they find by digging in mud, thus representing the distasteful materialism and ignorant elitism Swift encountered in Britain. Hence the term “yahoo” has come to mean “a crude, brutish or obscenely coarse person”.

Mrs Grumble did a bit of Googling and dug up (here) some pictures from a 1947 edition of Gulliver’s Travels. It had 24 original prints and 160 drawings.

They include pictures of Yahoos (one of them is reproduced above).

Unlike Swift, the Telecom bigwigs could tap into Google to find out about Yahoos.

Having done so – what else did they need to know?

Too late, Telecom is now reviewing its email service.

But justice (of sorts) has been done, because –

Moutter himself was one of 87,000 Telecom internet users who were on the end of emails containing spam this month after the Yahoo! Xtra service was hacked by overseas criminals.

You would think this experience would have motivated a rapid end to the Yahoo! deal.

Not so.

A Telecom spokeswoman said the contract with Yahoo! was not up for review and no other providers had been spoken to. But Telecom had reviewed its email service and could pass on costs as a result of the glitch.

Asked how Telecom rated Yahoo’s performance, the spokeswoman said it had “robust systems in place to minimise the risk of spam entering customers accounts”.

It’s pleasing to see Paul Brislen, from the Telecom Users Association NZ, saying Yahoo! has an “utterly awful” security record and equally bad customer service.

He sympathised with Telecom’s plight and doubted they would renew their arrangement with Yahoo!, having outsourced their email service to the American giant in 2007.

“(Telecom) are in quite a tricky spot, yes it’s their brand and their responsibility and at the end of the day your contract is with Telecom, not with Yahoo!,” Mr Brislen said.

“They trusted (Yahoo!) to do a better job and have been dumped on by a big American company that probably can’t find New Zealand on the map.”

Now, there’s a thought.

Just for starters, the bosses at Yahoo! should be challenged to point to New Zealand on a map.

Then they should be asked to point to Eketahuna.

Until they can do that, there should be nothing more to discuss.

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