I often see companies, (usually smaller ones) that have a corpoarate domain, (eg mycorp.com), but still use aol for their email (eg email@example.com.) What gives? Once you have gone to the trouble of registering your own domain, why not use it for e-mail? I have a vanity domain for e-mail use, and its not a lot more expensive then aol’s service anyway. Any ideas from the more internet savvey dopers out there?
It’s a sign that the company is sloppily run or possibly involved in scams. If they keep the AOL account (or any email with an ISP or email service domain, like Hotmail), it makes it easier to quickly change the website domain to avoid the law and irate customers. Also, setting up your domain for email isn’t super hard but does require some knowledge.
More likely than a scam is that they simply can’t afford to hire a network engineer to build it and a network admin to administer it. People also use it as a backup like we do here at work. I have a domain and lots of users but occasionally get problems sending mail to AOL. For that we maintain an AOL account. Perfectly normal operations.
In addition to the reasons specified (and Bongmaster gives an important one – AOL’s filters will often consider multiple addressees to be spam-mail and filter it out, so if you need to advise 30 customers of something in a hurry, you may need an AOL account to send them), there’s another good reason:
Many ISPs will (re)sell you a domain name – licensing it and then charging you more for it – and build you a website there, but without e-mail service. So you might go through that ISP or another one – such as AOL – for your e-mail.
For example, I could go to Westelcom in my old home town and have them set up a website for my consulting business, either on their domain or buying a domain for it – but while I could edit the HTML and change text, I wouldn’t have a clue how to manage e-mail, and might, rather than learning, simply put my e-mail through them or through another provider – such as AOL.
There’s another reason that hasn’t been touched on:
Managing an internal mail server (Exchange, etc.) for a small company is no big deal, but if you need access to mail from OUTSIDE the office, there are a few more complications involved. The hassle (or security issues) involved in configuring a VPN server or having to set up SMTP/POP3 servers in Outlook could easily drive small companies to take the easy route. With AOL*, it’s a piece of cake for employees to access their e-mail from any internet-enabled computer worldwide. Having the same functionality through an internal mail server could prove to be a configuration nightmare.
In addition, all e-mail correspondence is stored offsite on AOL’s reliable servers. Why go to all the trouble of creating a redundant e-mail backup solution when there’s a free (or low fee) option available? And what about fires or disasters? AOL’s servers are distributed around the country for ultimate reliability.
*AOL is only used as an example here due to its short acronym. AOL should, of course, be avoided at all cost
For many small companies new to the web, their web site is simply their old brochure in HTML. The brochure, business cards, etc all have the AOL address, so they see no reason to change it.
So in short, any way you slice it, it’s a matter of a lack of professionalism, either on the part of:
[ul][li]The person who didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t go the distance to wrap up the company’s online branding which includes e-mail;[/li][li]The person/company that chose the hosting for the company’s website – because they chose a hosting “solution” that did not include e-mail services, which is simply shortsighted and stupid at this point in time;[/li][li]The decision makers at the company itself, who approved or pushed for the situations in the first two instances or because they keep AOL e-mail so that they can spam AOL users more easily.[/ul][/li]
I don’t do business with any company that can’t get their stuff together to have e-mail at their own domain – even if it doesn’t do anything more than forward to their webmail box on the back end, it’s a sign that they’re trying. Anything less is just sloppy and makes me very hesitant to find out what else they do halfway.