This morning we got an email from a German reader who has been using a startup that facilitates mail for feature phones, before the service shut down earlier this month without warning. We first covered Momail way back in 2008, and re-reading the article reads somewhat like a blast from the past, when delivering email to feature phones still needed some tweaking.

Our German reader has been happily living life by routing his emails through Momail before he noticed his emails stopped getting delivered to his phone sometime on August 1st.

“They never gave any advance warning to their users and because of that, there was no chance at all to save stuff that is now ‘lost’ on their servers,” he writes to us, asking if we know anything that happened.

Now the website is completely offline, and checking LinkedIn you realise that everyone that was once connected to the company has moved onto new projects. The reader points out that online he hasn’t seen anyone else complaining about the service being shut down, which could give some hint about the size of their userbase. But turning off someone’s email without warning could really leave them out to dry, not anything you would want to do to your most loyal customers.

It’s getting harder to have that loving trust with consumer services provided by startups these days, as the ones that don’t continue their growth seem to eventually shut down. And the popular ones, like the OSX mail client, Sparrow, face risk as their founders have a hard time turning down million-dollar talent acquisitions and stop development.

This is a fact life on the web, but the entrepreneurs out there should keep in mind that “it just ain’t right” to shut down your startups without of warning for your users, no matter how small your userbase is. It’s what your customers deserve for enjoying and using your product, and at the very least, think of it as a marketing opportunity to alert them to the next thing you’re working on.

Have you been burnt by any other startups before? Or can you think of any best practices you’ve noticed from other startups shutting down? Let us know in the comments.

Top image cc licensed by trancedmoogle on Flickr.

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