Excite e-mail has become a total joke

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Remember Excite.com? Together with Lycos, Altavista and Looksmart, Excite used to be a search engine in the times before Google had the search engine monopoly. Also, some time before Google introduced Gmail, Excite introduced Excite webmail.

Back then, I opened an Excite e-mail account simply because I needed an e-mail address that I could use for the hundreds of websites whom I didn't want to give my regular e-mail address when they asked me for one during some registration process. I figured that the Excite e-mail account would work as a spam repository.

As a result, many of my online accounts are now linked to this e-mail address. That wouldn't be a bad thing per se, if two stupid things hadn't happened:

  • At some point, Excite.com relaunched its website and decided that I had to update my registration. When I acted accordingly, they said that my password was no longer secure enough. I had to come up with another password, which I did.
  • During the relaunch, they also changed much of the software that their web portal was using, but it seems that they did not upgrade the server hardware to cope with the extra processor load.

Then I forgot the new, more secure password. No problem, I thought, after all there's this "Forgot your password?" link. I clicked on it, and this is what I saw:


The problem is that it does not accept my birthdate or zip code, which makes sense in so far as I don't remember entering either when I registered for the account. Also, I have never come across a website that is paranoid enough to ask two security questions before sending a password to an e-mail address that only the owner knows anyway.

This is all the more absurd as interestingly, thanks to a persistent cookie, I am actually still logged into my Excite e-mail account on one of my computers, so I can read my e-mail on that computer without entering any kind of password. I just can't log in from any other computer, I can't forward my mail to a different account, and I can't get them to change my password to something I might remember.

That's not even mentioning the second big problem, which is that all the paranoia and security is totally absurd for a system that seems to be offline most of the day. For the last four weeks, I have been only been able to log into my account two or three times; on all my other attempts, I received server timeout error messages. Sometimes I will get as far as the start page, sometimes I will get nowhere at all.

It seems that my data is firmly locked into Excite.com's server, or rather almost firmly locked in, because that persistent cookie allows me access to my mails without a password whenever the server chooses to be online. The whole thing is just a big joke.

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