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June 9, 2009
On the heels of the groups problem that I wrote about last time, I have come across another problem that is a real doozie. Apparently, if you have a problem creating a particular user, for whatever reason, it is possible that you may not EVER be able create a user with that username. This is what happened to me, and effectively it made my client abandon an important email address. Fortunately, we had a couple of weeks before the final change-over to notify others of the change, but still. Here is what happened.
I created a new Google Apps account for a client. After uploading the users list via a csv file (25 users), Google sent an email detailing the results of the upload. It contained an error that there was a problem creating one of the accounts, call it bbob. Immediately, I went into the Dashboard and checked out the Users and Groups to see if bbob was there. Sure enough, it wasn't. So I tried to add the user manually, but got an error that the user already existed.
Looking around for a solution, I saw where a user that had been deleted could not be recreated for 5 days. I dutifully waited 6 days and tried again with the same results.
Since then I have left messages on the Google Support Forums, and found other users with similar issues. The apparent solution is that a Google Admin must stumble upon your plea in the forums and manually delete the account so you can reinstate it. So, please Google, follow-up on the post Username already exists and FIX my problem.
Overall I love Google Apps. I understand that I am getting a ton of value for free, and I credit Google entirely. I am a tremendous Google Fan-boy as a result of their services. I also realize that they can't offer support for a free offering. But, a bug is a bug, and it needs to be fixed. To let people simply sit in limbo indefinitely is not to take seriously the job of hosting email -- free or not. If they want IT guys like me to take their paid services seriously, they need to seek out and fix issues such as this. If they are not diligent with the little things, how can we expect them to be diligent with the big things?
UPDATE After three weeks a Google admin responded to my posts and cleared the user account. Unfortunately, the user had already notified all of his critical contacts of the required change. We have since added the account name as a nickname to his new account. Because of this problem and the timing, we had to abandon the old account.