Last Friday Vodafone said it would close its email service. The service is still used by more than 200,000 customers.

Vodafone plans to close mail accounts at the end of November. It will affect customers with Vodafone, iHug, Clear and Paradise email addresses among others.

The company advised customers to switch to free mail accounts with either Google's Gmail or Microsoft's Outlook Mail.

To help the transition Vodafone will continue to forward customer's mail from its addresses to new accounts so long as they remain Vodafone customers. That way customers will able to continue using their old addresses for other online services which require an email address.

In a statement the company said it was quitting mail after problems with spam and delayed mail messages. Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams said customers had told Vodafone its email service was no longer delivering the experience they needed.

Within days Vodafone customers were airing grievances about the move on social networks and traditional media. Some pointed out that three months notice is not enough to make provision for a change. Others mentioned how difficult it can be to move large amounts of mail to another service provider, especially if they use their own domain name with a mail account.

The story was dealt with at some length on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon show. A Vodafone business customer said he thought the move would cost him around $20,000.

Vodafone isn't the first telco to have problems with email. Earlier this year Spark moved its customers from Yahoo to a service run by Auckland based SMX. Yahoo Mail was a thorn in Spark's side for a decade. Customers experienced high levels of spam and the service had two major security breaches.

During the switch, Spark took pains to keep customers informed about changes and to provide them with plenty of warning in advance.

It may seem quaint and old-fashioned to offer ISP email in 2017, yet for many customers, especially older users, it remains an important communications channel.

Switching mail accounts can be trivial, but it isn't always, especially when there are domain names and vast message archives to deal with.

While Gmail and Outlook are popular, they are far from ideal and only free in some circumstances. Business customers pay to get full functionality or a personalised email address. Meanwhile Google mines Gmail messages for information so it can target advertising at customers.