4 Months of Emails Are MIA — What Should We Do? 

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Gavin Sullivan's parents are missing four months' worth of emails, and they think Comcast is to blame. What should they do?

Question: I would very much appreciate your help with an issue I’ve encountered with my family’s Comcast.net email accounts. Over four months of emails have completely disappeared from two of my family’s inboxes.  

Earlier this summer, my mother noticed that she was missing every single email between March 5 and July 8. Emails before and after those dates are still there. 

She contacted Comcast technical support through an online chat. The online agent was unable to resolve her issue. Later that day, she called Comcast’s phone support. The phone agent was unable to resolve the issue, but promised that a specialist would contact her within 72 hours. Nobody ever called her back. 

A few days later, I noticed that I was unable to log into my Comcast account, which is associated with my mother’s account, using my regular password. I contacted Comcast via an online chat to reset the password. Once I logged into my account, I noticed that all of my emails between July 14 and July 20 were missing. 

The online agent was unable to resolve the issue, but promised I would get a call the next day before 5 p.m. I never received a call from them. 

A few days later, I contacted Comcast technical support over the phone. I spoke with one agent who didn’t understand the problem, so after asking twice I was transferred to a “tier two” specialist. She also couldn’t resolve the issue. 

Frustrated by this situation, I called Comcast’s billing department and asked for a refund of my charges. The representative said she could only offer me approximately $18 in compensation. This seems like an incredibly low amount for a major problem which has still not been resolved in any capacity. Would you be able to help? — Gavin Sullivan, Boston 

Answer: Comcast should have called you back when it promised and fixed the problem. There’s no excuse for the endless delays. 

It appears you were using Comcast’s proprietary Web-based email service, which is actually pretty feature-rich and, from what I can tell, quite reliable. It appears you were using a computer email program to pick up the messages instead of using the Web interface. (Disclosure: I use Google’s suite of Web-based email and voice mail services, which does more or less the same thing.) 

Keeping a chat record was a great first step. When the phone calls didn’t work, I might have started a paper trail. Oh, but you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? I have a few names and numbers on my site. 

Let’s pause to consider the irony that you’re sending an email about your broken email. 

As is so often the case with technology, your problem could be caused by almost anything. It looks as if Comcast.net deleted several months worth of emails, but the fact that the company couldn’t troubleshoot on its end might have been a sign that the problem was on your end. I might have checked all the settings on your computer and any email clients you might be using to check your Comcast emails. 

I contacted Comcast on your behalf. A technician got in touch with your parents and pinpointed the problem to an email client on your mother’s Mac. You are now able to retrieve all of your emails. 

You might consider switching to a Web-based client for your email. It takes a little getting used to, but it will prevent this problem from ever happening again. 

Elliott’s latest book is “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Email him at [email protected]

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