At the moment, I have 5 instances where incoming emails sent to my free Gmail address at different times from different company email servers have gone missing – they are nowhere to be found: not in all mail, not in trash, not in spam. The senders didn’t get any error or bounced back messages. Now I’m ready to pay for a more reliable email provider. Who would think that Gmail isn’t?
After some discussion and research, I figured that Gmail eats emails when they have fancy/unusual HTML signatures (among other reasons). One of the missing emails was a travel itinerary, two were international emails with bilingual signatures and two were local ones with fancy images and HTML in the signatures.
Looks like Gmail filters are overly aggressive and the false positives are removed without a trace. Some online comments prove that theory, the two below are from Hacker News discussion:
“Gmail once ate (bypassed spam and instantly deleted it, silently) an email filled with travel itinerary for an interview, causing me to miss the flight booked for me and the company I was interviewing with to have to book a second one (~$1k). If you find this hard to believe, go check your spam folder and see how many emails you have. Do you think you’re really only getting ~1 spam message a day? This is the dark side of Google’s spam filtering.”
“It will frequently gobble up multi-lingual emails. I discovered this when I ignored a customer in Chile for a while because he had a Spanish email signature.”
And this one is from Google Product Forums.
“Gmail users are largely unaware that Google deletes many of their emails before they even reach them. These emails don’t go to users’ Spam folders or Trash folders. They just disappear. Users never know they ever existed.*
Gmail users have just lost control over their own spam filtering.
1. Gmail never informed users that they now have a “Quarantine” folder where many of their emails are routed and then deleted without their knowledge.
2. Gmail sends all kinds of safe email to Quarantine. Typically, only a small fraction is infected with viruses.
3. Gmail made it impossible for users to check the contents of their own Quarantine folders.
Apparently, Google knows our preferences better than we do. “
This one is from Technical forums.
“Google/Gmail IS at fault in many instances. Myself and many others are discovering that a Gmail server is dropping reply emails. I had a technician check Imap, settings, etc. and based on the IP info from emails that did not get to me (that people who sent them got them to me through a Yahoo account) it shows that a Google server is dropping some emails. I went through the online automated Gmail tech support to no avail. They DO NOT contact you and you cannot contact them. I have switched to Yahoo, although Gmail has better features but I have lost business deals due to not getting replies.”
I’m really pissed off because all the missing emails in my Gmail account were really important to me and I was only able to confirm that they’ve ever being sent to me via phone calls. Oddly enough but Google has “emails gone missing” support form which I filled out.
It doesn’t look like Google follows its own motto Don’t be evil here. Deleting legitimate important emails without users’ awareness is the definition of evil. Some people miss the flights, some people miss the job opportunities because of these weird Gmail behavior. As for me, I’ll be looking into some paid alternative email providers such as Fastmail. Five missing emails are worth to me much more than $5/month subscription and obviously, I can’t agree that Google decides on its own which emails I see and which I don’t.