For me it turned out that indeed xinetd wasn't started ... and the last fix I needed was to "chmod ug+x /etc/rc.d/rc.inet2".
Skankpus - seems you're about there. I had my hotwayd running (via xinetd) on 11000 and not on 110. That could be it. I'd also try disabling your firewall and see if that helps.
# switch off firewall allowing all traffic
echo "Firewall: disabling filtering (allowing all traffic)"
/usr/sbin/iptables -F -t nat
/usr/sbin/iptables -F -t mangle
/usr/sbin/iptables -P INPUT ACCEPT
/usr/sbin/iptables -P OUTPUT ACCEPT
/usr/sbin/iptables -P FORWARD ACCEPT
klytu - it did help, thanks
mattydee - I did know about that one but as I'm on an older box I'd taken the decision to try kmail as it should share resources with other kde apps I run; I also like the integrated interface (eg with akregator, I actually use kontact for kmail). kmail however sucks in one important point - no proper html mail creation. Thanks anyway.