I'm not sure why Telecom has decided to slap on a $20 a month email charge for people who aren't their customers but who have an xtra.co.nz address but they have. That's a good chunk of money that you really don't need to hand over to Telecom.
If continuity of email service is important to you, set up your own domain. It's really easy, and not very expensive. Even .nz domains that used to be pricey have come down a lot. Get an ISP to host it and shop around, because the cost varies a lot. Use IMAP to make sure you have a local copy of the mail message store and that's pretty much it. No more being held hostage by your provider.
There are other ways to do it too, including hosting your own domain to have full control of it.
Forget about "email portability" which means you could take your email@example.com with you to a new provider. That's solution would be far costlier and complex for you than simply getting your own domain. It wouldn't be fully portable either, because some.isp.net may fold at some point in time, taking the domain with it.
I am really surprised that Telecom didn't consider how the charge would be seen by the public though.
In simple terms, customers trusted Xtra with their communications. Even when they left they didn't cancel their email accounts, but kept them with Xtra. Some do this out of necessity - I've seen Xtra, Clear, and Orcon addresses for instance on stationery, packaging, car livery and in advertisements. Changing all that is a major exercise and inconvenience.
There are two ways for an ISP like Xtra to look at this. First, the harsh, straight up business one: these are customers that use your infrastructure for free. They should either pay or get off the network.
That's fair enough, but consider the trust: maybe this is an opportunity instead, to win back customers who have gone to other ISPs? Offer them a good deal to get them back. Even if they don't come back, you may get some useful feedback that tells you why they left for another ISP.
Xtra has their email addresses after all, and an existing business relationship so it wouldn't be spamming.
Update Am told Telecom did just that, and sent out a message to customers with some offers. Will post the email if and when it arrives.
Update II And here's the email from Xtra:
Account number: xxxxxx
A recent review of our records shows that you no longer have your broadband service with us on the account number listed.
When you first signed up to Telecom Broadband on account number xxxxxx you automatically received free access to Premium Services such as an Xtra email address, Telecom Security Suite, Flickr Pro, Yahoo! Mail and 10 Free Sub Accounts. As you've now disconnected the broadband connection on this account, you are no longer eligible for these free Premium Services (including the Xtra email address), so we are writing to tell you about the changes to your account.
If you no longer need your Xtra email address and other Premium Services, please ignore this email as you don't need to do anything.
To update your details or to select a new plan please complete our online form.
Your Xtra email address
Unless you contact us your Xtra email account (firstname.lastname@example.org), which you received free as part of your Telecom Broadband plan will be suspended on 28 November 2012. This means you will be unable to send or receive emails using your Xtra email address, or access Yahoo! Mail.
Upon suspension you will have 50 days before your email account will be disconnected permanently and you will no longer be able to access any files, folders or services associated with your Xtra email account.
Photos on Flickr
If you use Flickr, then you'll know that your Flickr account is linked to your Xtra email. For that reason your Flickr account will also be suspended on 28 November 2012 so you won't be able to access any photos or albums on your Flickr account. To regain access to your photos you will need to reinstate your Xtra email account within 50 days from the 28 November 2012. After this time your Flickr account will be disconnected permanently and any photos saved on Flickr will be lost.
Security Suite and sub-accounts
Your subscription to Telecom Security Suite will stop once your Xtra email account is disconnected. This means you will no longer receive automatic updates for your suite.
If you have any existing sub-accounts, then these will also be disconnected with your primary Xtra email account.
Your Dial-Up Plan
You may not be aware that you have a backup dial-up plan on this line as part of your fixed broadband connection. With this dial-up plan you were not charged a monthly rental and were only charged $2.50 per hour if or when you used the dial-up service. As you've now disconnected your broadband, the dial-up plan has also been removed.
What happens next?
If our records are incorrect or if you have a Broadband service on another Telecom account, or if you wish to pay a fee to retain the Premium Services (including the Xtra email address) you need to fill out our online form. before 28 November 2012 to avoid having your account suspended.
If we don't hear from you by 28 November 2012, then your Premium Services and Xtra email account will be suspended for 50 days, after which time your Xtra email account and associated Flickr account will be disconnected permanently. So don't delay, for more information about your options simply go to telecom.co.nz/athome
"The only extra information which was missing from this e-mail which would be found out if they spoke with a CSR as per the email below is they can transfer their Xtra account to a Mobile Broadband Account if they have one of those. This option is over and above of moving it to another customer, correcting the information if it's incorrect. The final option is paying for dialup if they have a Telecom Landline ($10) or if they have no relationship with Telecom ($20)."
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