Few days back, I upgraded my Google Apps Standard account to Google Apps Premier account because I needed more space and I thought it will be nice to pay for a cloud service and, in the process, get rid of the annoying ads. I was also very keen on using their Postini services and wanted to use the 10 GB space on Google Sites for some project. Plus, $50 per year per user is peanuts for the value one can get out of Google Apps premier edition. But, I cancelled my subscription in exactly two days and for a reason which could be easily dismissed as silly or amateurish.
First, a little background on how I use my Google Apps account. I have two email users in my Google Apps account. One of the email addresses is used for my communication purposes and the other one for everything else. I use the catchall option (well, since I trust Google’s spam filter very much, I am not all that worried about spam coming due to the catchall option. In fact, I, probably, get around 5 or 6 spam emails every month and it is ok for the convenience of the catch all address). I forward the catchall mails to one of my users in the Google Apps account. Since Google Apps Standard edition is free, life hummed along very well without much trouble.
Google’s pricing approach to Premier account is a bit odd from my point of view (where I assume that usage based pricing means you only pay for what you use). Instead of giving an option to allow premier upgrade for only those accounts that needs an upgrade, Google forces the customers to upgrade all the users or none. Also, with their 50 user limit, if you ever have 51 users, you need to pay for all 51 users instead of 50 free + 1 paid user. When you are a 50 people organization, you have a free email system for your organization but if you have 51 people, you have to pay $2550 per year (which is still peanuts though, no doubt).
When I decided to upgrade my 2 user Google Apps account, I wanted to upgrade only the account I use for email communications and not the other “reservoir” account. Since I don’t have the option of selectively upgrading the user accounts, I moved all the mails from the “reservoir” account to another domain of mine with the hope that I can use that standard edition user account as my “reservoir” account including the mails coming due to catchall option. I removed the “reservoir” user account from my domain and upgraded to Premier account with just one user. After the upgrade I realized that the catchall address can only be an address from the same domain. I didn’t notice it when I had the standard account because having an extra user account didn’t cost me anything and, hence, didn’t think about it much. Now, I realized that I cannot forward the catchall address to the Google Apps account for another domain and, then, decided that I will use the group option to push the mails to the other Google Apps account. I set up a group email address under my domain and set it to forward mails to the other Google Apps account. But, Google Apps didn’t allow me to use a group email from the same domain as the catchall email address. It appears one can only use an user account (not a group account) from the same domain as a catchall email address. In short, the only way for me to have a catchall email address is either by using my main email user as a catchall user or pay for another user and then use it.
I perfectly understand the logic behind forcing the catchall email from the same domain. I agree that it is not expensive to buy another account. I also agree that Google Apps is mainly directed towards enterprises and they don’t care about paying for another account as long as the emails don’t go out of their own domain.
However, I feel that Google is wrong for the following reasons. First, even though Google Apps are directed towards enterprises, their main customer base are SME, individual users, non-profits, etc.. For them, $50 per year is not a small amount. Forcing someone to pay $50 for a simple thing like a catchall email is just ridiculous. If the Premier account is really customized for enterprise users, they should have a premier lite targeting individuals and small businesses. This act of forcing the customers to pay for an extra account (or, live with all the catchall mails in the main account which they don’t want to use for the purpose) goes against the Google’s self imposed motto of “Don’t be evil”. It is not only wrong but, also, absurd.
PS: There may or may not be an advanced routing option as an work around. I didn’t dig enough to rule it out. However, irrespective of whether such an option exists or not, there should be a straight forward way of doing it. Period.