On one of the sites I host, I saw someone post a complaint that they weren’t getting emails from the board. Now I get a lot of bounced email from that site, but it’s not their fault. Spammers like to sign up with fake emails and all those bounce. Every week I collect the repeat offenders and add them to my ban list, but I end up sending between 10 and 100 ‘bad’ email a week. It sucks, but there you are. Once in a while, the ‘sources’ of those bad emails (gmail and yahoo and anything *.ru) block me, but when I explain what’s up, they unblock quickly. Gmail blocked and unblocked me within moments of each email. So, like the good webhost I am, I took a look and found out that, indeed, the emails were bouncing with this message:
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently: [person]@earthlink.net
Technical details of permanent failure:
PERM_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 8): 550 550 Dynamic/zombied/spam IPs blocked. Write firstname.lastname@example.org
Now I know I (ipstenu.org) am not a spammer, and I know my domain isn’t open so spammers can’t use me. But I also know that sometimes if you get a lot of automated emails, some ISPs get narky. I figured I’d email the blockedby account and get it cleared up. I should have known better.
I work with off shore support a lot, I train them, and by in large, I like them. They’re nice people, they have the obvious ulterior motives we all do (less work, more pay) and they follow directions as well as anyone else. I don’t mind if they lie and tell me their name is something American or English to make people ‘feel better’, and I always know becuase people who learned English as a second language always have a bit of an odd turn of phrase that points them out. I live on the internet a lot, I communicate via typed word a lot. I know these things. And I say all this because the Indian/Off Shore blokes I talked to were nice and polite and did nothing wrong.
Having gotten the aforementioned email, I followed directions and emailed email@example.com which netted me the following email:
PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE EMAIL TO RESOLVE YOUR ISSUE
EarthLink may be blocking your mail server because the server is listed in a dynamic IP range, is listed as an open proxy, is listed as a compromised machine, or is major source of spam.
If you do not know what IP address your server is sending with, please contact the mail administrator of your company or your ISP and have them follow the instructions below.
If you are the administrator of the email server being blocked, please know you may be able to expedite unblocking by checking to see if your mail server is listed in the following lists and resolving before emailing us:
Other spam databases to determine if your mail server IP has spam issues:
If your IP is not on any of these lists, is not dynamic, is not an open relay/proxy/zombie, please reply back to firstname.lastname@example.org with “BLOCKED ” in the subject line with the IP inserted. All reports sent to this address, not using this format will receive this auto response.
Thank you for your cooperation,
Okay, fine, I know I’m not on those blacklists because MY SITES use those lists as blacklist sources, and I’d not be able to get my own emails. And yes, I’ve had that happen before while hosted on Yahoo. It’s funny in that ulcer making way. As I’m my own domain admin, I got the IP address and sent the email as they asked, getting another helpful reply back:
Thank you for contacting the EarthLink Abuse Department. Your ticket ID is SE02527167.
Please include this number in the “Subject:” of any subsequent e-mail regarding this issue.
Earthlink Network Abuse
After 24 hours of no response, I went to their LiveChat to ask if they could fix the ticket. After all, I have a ticket, they didn’t ask for any more info, they should be able to help. Wrong.
Welcome to Earthlink LiveChat. Your chat session will begin shortly. Feel free to begin typing your question.
‘Robin F’ says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?
Ipstenu: I have an abuse ticket, SE02527167 – My domain is being bounced by Earthlink and I’d like to have my IP removed from your blacklist.
Robin F: Hello, I will be glad to assist you.
Ipstenu: Thank you. Can you remove the block on my IP?
Robin F: Has the ORIGINAL SENDER forwarded the bounced message to the email address (email@example.com
Ipstenu: Yes, and I opened a ticket – SE02527167
Ipstenu: The original sender was a PHP script to retrieve a password.
Robin F: You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ipstenu: Yes, I did that. That’s how I got the support ticket with you.
Ipstenu: Thank you for contacting the EarthLink Abuse Department. Your ticket ID is SE02527167.
Ipstenu: I’m asking if you can handle the ticket and remove the block on my IP/Domain.
Robin F: Sorry , I do not have the facility to remove the block on the IP/Domain.
Ipstenu: Thank you.
So Robin F clearly was following those annoying scripts. You know the one ‘Did you reboot?’ etc etc. I refrained from the urge to type in caps, and I had hoped that by referencing the help ticket, Robin would skip over the basics. Ah well. Not to be helped. The end result was easy. “Sorry, can’t help you.” Good to know.
The next circle of support is the phone. 1-888-EARTHLINK (1-888-327-8454) does not have an easy phone tree, and basically I lied and told them the number I was calling from was my account number, and I was a customer who couldn’t send email. Eventually I got to Eric (probably not his real name) who explained that my ticket was sent to level 3 support and that it would take 48 to 72 business hours before it might be actioned on. I pointed out the email I got said naught about that, and he apologized. Apparently when THEY make a ticket, they tell you that outright, but the automated system hasn’t caught up yet. But basically, there’s nothing to be done until next week.
For what it’s worth, I’m not the only person annoyed by the matter. Pratie Place had the same problem a couple years ago. It hasn’t gotten better. They do have a bit of a knowledge base article that isn’t helpful at all in the matter, and pretty much tells you what the emails do.
At least I know the email didn’t fall off the planet, Eric read off my email address from it.
The irony of it all is that I went to my email to get the text of the emails in this post and found the following, sent 10 minutes after I hung up the phone:
This IP has been unblocked. Please allow 2-24 hours for traffic to our network to return to normal.
Earthlink Network Abuse
Coincidence? I think not. Thanks, Eric and Robin. I suspect you helped out a little there!