Apple calls end to MobileMe mail outage

But not all is well, say some users, who report that they've been kicked off special help line

Apple Inc. late Tuesday said that it had restored service to all MobileMe e-mail accounts and officially called an end to an outage that had blocked thousands from receiving and sending messages for 11 days.

"We have completed restoring Mail service, including historical messages, to all of the 1% of affected members," said an Apple employee identified only as "David G." in a MobileMe status update posted yesterday evening. "Thank you all for your extreme patience during this trying time."

The outage, which began on July 18, kept an estimated 1% of MobileMe subscribers from using e-mail, Apple noted. Some service was restored last Friday, and a minority of users were to have received full access as of Sunday.

But Apple also announced that about 10% of messages sent to mac.com and me.com addresses during the period of July 16 to 18 had been permanently lost, and it acknowledged a new snafu that temporarily erased contacts and calendar entries from iPhones and iPod Touch devices that sync to MobileMe.

Apple has set up a special online chat line for MobileMe subscribers who are still experiencing problems with the synchronization and storage service, David G. said.

However, some users disputed Apple's contention that the outage was over and reported that Apple representatives kicked them off chat after they asked questions about ongoing problems.

"So the status page says service has been restored, and if you are still having problems, get help via chat," said a user identified as "morgan_edits" in a message Wednesday to the Apple support forum. "I sign into chat. I get a computer pretending to be Chris and another computer pretending to be Jamal. Both tell me that I am NOT having problems and kick me out of chat."

Jonathan Kemp had the same experience. "I tried to contact them five times and got booted off saying I wasn't affected. Wasn't affected??? Then where are my e-mails!!!???" Kemp wrote on the thread. "My problems followed the EXACT pattern of the mail outage, but even after explaining this was booted out of the chat."

Another user, "XJOS," included a partial transcript of his chat session to show that Apple had denied him help before booting him off the chat line.

"Me: Hello, my mails are still missing in mobileme"

"John: I'm sorry, according to our records, you were not one of the members affected by the email outage that began on July 18th. MobileMe Mail 24-hour chat support is a temporary measure designed specifically for users whose accounts were affected by that outage," said the posting.

Apple's David G., meanwhile, was more upbeat in calling the outage a closed case. "By completing this restoration of Mail services, we hope we have put the vast majority of MobileMe Mail problems behind us and can now focus on improving other aspects of this new ambitious service," he said.

MobileMe has weathered a series of major problems since its launch more than two weeks ago. Just days after the July 11 debut, for instance, users blasted Apple for slower-than-expected synchronization; the company apologized and credited customers with an additional 30 days of service after acknowledging that the service didn't completely meet the definition of "push" synchronization.

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