Update On My Fight With Hotmail

Just a quick update on my ongoing struggle with Hotmail (original post HERE).

First a quick recap:

  • About every 3 months Hotmail starts black-holing all email from my server. I contact Microsoft, they apologize and email starts flowing again.
  • On September 23, I realized that Hotmail was rejecting all mail from my server and TO my server, but this time bouncing email with the following message:

SMTP error from remote mail server after MAIL FROM:<xxx> SIZE=2562: host mx2.hotmail.com []: 550 Your e-mail was rejected for policy reasons on this gateway. Reasons for rejection may be related to content with spam-like characteristics or IP/domain reputation problems. If you are not an e-mail/network admin please contact your E-mail/Internet Service Provider for help. For e-mail delivery information, please go to http://postmaster.live.com

  • Hotmail promises they will fix the problem within 48 hours
  • 49 hours pass and problem still not fixed.. I report it again and they promise they’ll fix it within 48 hours
  • 49 more hours pass and it’s still not fixed, so I report it again
  • Two days later they say they’ve found the problem and will let me know as soon as they “hear anything from the filtering team”
  • So far, 10 days without being able to send mail to Hotmail users or RECEIVE mail from Hotmail members.

And, to be clear: I am not a spammer! Anybody that’s ever read this blog or that knows anything about GrownUpGeek.com knows that I am about as ANTI-Spam as anyone could be. My server has not been compromised, nor has Microsoft ever even claimed that even ONE piece of spam was detected from my server. Even their own “Smart Network Data Services” for email does not show any spam complaints.

In every email that I get from Microsoft, at the bottom is this list of things that they recommend I do to help their retarded system:

1. Segment your mailing infrastructure by IP. Marketing e-mail, transactional corporate, “forward to a friend” e-mail and signup e-mails should be sent from different IP’s. This will help to identify what types of messages are being flagged by Hotmail customers.

My response: If you’re too stupid to tell the difference between what is spam and what is NOT spam, why should I go out of MY way to make YOUR job easier?

2. Strengthen the sign up process. Confirm that you are using a double-opt-in sign up process. This will not help in removing existing Hotmail customers from your e-mail lists but it will confirm the authenticity of those who sign-up on for your e-mail campaigns and newsletters.

My response: The sign-up process for our newsletters is already double-opt-in.. It always has been!

3. If you have any feedback loops setup with other ISPs you should look for trends to try and determine possible causes – a new data source? New advertisement? Maybe folks signing up don’t recognize the mail?

My response: I have email complaint feedback loops setup with Hotmail and AOL.. and guess what?! I RARELY get any complaints!

4. Clearly mark your e-mails so that Hotmail customers are able to quickly and easily identify that they requested e-mails from your service.

My response: I’m pretty sure my website members and newsletter subscribers know how to read.

5. Do some analysis on the data regarding complaints – look at Hotmail customers who have never clicked, opened, responded or bounced in any way. These poor performers could contain many bad addresses.

My response: I don’t get complaints because I do not send spam of any kind

6. Clean up your lists. Remove those who do not want to receive the emails. Make the unsubscribe process more visible.

My response: Anyone that clicks the “UNSUBSCRIBE ME” link gets unsubscribed and people that email requests to unsubscribe get unsubscribed

7. Enroll in the Sender Score program. This is the only Whitelist which Hotmail uses. It is owned and operated by Return Path. You can find information about this program at http://www.senderscorecertified.com.

My response: F-YOU Microsoft! I’m not going to pay $400 to join and $1,000 a year because you randomly pick my server to blacklist! How much of a kickback or sales-fee do you get back for each new member?

8. Please visit http://www.senderbase.org or http://openrbl.org to verify that your IP is not being targeted by any 3rd party block lists.

My response: These sites, as well as SORBS and all the other blacklist sites are smart enough to know the difference between a spammer and a non-spammer. Thus, they do not report any problems.

In addition to these recommendations, Hotmail has created the Smart Network Data Services program. This is a service that helps legitimate email senders work with their customers and partners to reduce spam originating from their IP. http://postmaster.msn.com/snds/. This program allows a sender to monitor the ‘health’ of their IPs.

My response: Yah.. I did this the first time you guys screwed up.. As you can see, it’s really helped out a lot.

So.. Tonight I sent my new friends at Microsoft/Hotmail the following message:

—– Original Message —–

From: Rand Wilson
To: Microsoft Customer Support
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2007 7:50 PM
Subject: Re: SRXY138587ID – Sender Information Form

Please let me know when you are able to figure out how to fix your problem with your system.. it has now been 10 days since I was informed your issues with your system would be corrected within 24-48 hours.

If this problem is not corrected within 24 hours you will force me to actively encourage my website members and visitors to change to another free email service such as Gmail or Yahoo – I have no other choice as Hotmail seems unwilling or incapable of delivering mail from my server or even allow incoming mail from Hotmail members. I will also be forced to cancel my paid Premium Hotmail email accounts (plural).

I am becoming more and more disappointed as each day goes by.. Microsoft appears to not be able to accomplish anything, nor do they appear to care. You guys used to be so good.. Is a human being even reading this message?

Actually, I would have begun “actively” encouraging members to switch to Gmail or Yahoo tonight, but I’m too tired to start making the changes at the site – so I gave them a extra day. Thursday, assuming they will still not respond or fix their problems, I will update the GrownUpGeek.com home page, as well as the sign-up page with my new campaign to stop using Hotmail and switch to GMail or Yahoo. I will also put up skyscrapers on all my forum pages advertising my David vs. Goliath plight.

Do you think that 11,000 active members, 10,000 visitors and 30,000 page-views a day will make a difference? We will see..

The final chapter in this saga has been posted HERE

2 thoughts on “Update On My Fight With Hotmail

  1. Wow! It’s outrageous what M$ is doing to you. I still hold onto my hotmail account but direct all my garbage mail to that account. Time for new alternatives. Maybe permanent move to gmail? best of luck to you

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