Now I'm the one not trusting .Mac


Okay, so here’s an update on those issues with .Mac that I wrote about a week ago.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened so far:

  1. I complained that e-mail messages sent through .Mac’s authenticated SMTP server never reached their destination (even when sent to myself), every time I used my cable ISP.
  2. I pointed out that sending test messages via my Vodafone HSUPA connection worked fine, which was nonsensical (since I’m using authenticated SMTP).
  3. I also pointed out that using webmail via both ISPs had the same effect: Sending messages to myself when connected via Netcabo failed, and worked via Vodafone.

I then provided a sample webmail message that had gone through and asked if they used the X-Originating-IP address for filtering (which would explain why messages sent via authenticated SMTP and webmail were lost)

I got a number of replies – all thoughtful and evidently boilerplate, but which failed to address any of the issues above.

The first replies completely missed the point and asked me to re-connect my network hardware, check Connection Doctor, etc. I replied with a precis of the situation and pointed out that I could switch between two ISPs.

It was then pointed out to me that an IP address I quoted as having no problems with (i.e., the one on my Vodafone connection) was blocked on the CBL.

Which was funny, because:

  • Both connections (cable and HSUPA) provide me with dynamic IP addressing (I only used that IP address once)
  • I was asked to check my Windows machines (or anything I was running under virtualization software) for viruses
  • They went and checked the working IP address

Still, it was a thoughtful and well documented reply. Completely and utterly wrong in a number of aspects, but OK – I suppose it was also the result of a boilerplate troubleshooting process.

So I replied again, pointing out not only that testing single IP addresses was pointless (because, after all, both ISPs give me dynamic addresses), and asking (politely) what was the use of their having an authenticated SMTP service if they didn’t use that to avoid blocking their own users.

So they went and checked another single IP address from my examples, and told me they had white-listed it. They also did not reply to my direct questions about whether or not they rely on authenticated SMTP to validate their users.

Which means that:

  • They didn’t pay any attention to my pointing out that the IP addresses I quoted were merely examples, and that I’m getting a different one every time I connect.

Although I haven’t spent much time with a computer at home this week, I’ve been checking – I got a new cable IP address every day (or so – I’ve been crashing on the couch with a book on some evenings) and I get a different one every time I fire up my HSUPA connection (I should know – I worked at Vodafone Portugal Network Planning until a year or so ago).

  • They didn’t know how to (or want to) address my specific question.

I was also asked to contact my ISP. Which is interesting, considering that I had previously demonstrated that I could log in to .Mac via webmail or authenticated SMTP, send e-mail to myself, and have that e-mail vanish.

So I tried again:


My complaint is not related to my being unable to send e-mail from a single IP address.

My complaint is related to my being able to send mail (but it vanishing, even when I send it to myself) from a number of addresses from my cable ISP. The address you whitelisted is dynamic, and as such it is not guaranteed that I will be using it again.

My complaint is also related to the apparent inability or inefficacy of .Mac’s service to rely on authenticated SMTP to validate the origin of e-mails, since even e-mails I send to myself using your authenticated SMTP server do not arrive when they are sent from my cable ISP’s netblock.

As such, your fix is not effective for me.

What I require from you is an explanation why authenticated SMTP is apparently not enough of a guarantee that e-mail I send is not run through your anti-spam system (and effectively lost), even when sent to myself @mac.com, for at this point I cannot trust your service for reliable e-mail delivery.

Their response?

They pointed out that the IP they had white-listed was found in a Symantec Block List, and asked me (again) to check my systems for viruses.

Yes, even after I pointed out that it was a dynamic IP address, explaining that analyzing single IP addresses wasn’t worth squat, after their own white-listing of it (which boggles the mind – why didn’t they check everything before?), and after pressing (again) the issue of whether using authenticated SMTP is useful for anything.

So here’s what is in their inbox right now (after yet another attempt at explaining that the IP address they white-listed is dynamic, etc., etc.):


Also, you have not addressed my main question:

What use is .Mac’s authenticated SMTP service? What assurance do I have that using it will prevent me from losing sent e-mails again?

In short, what can you tell me that will ensure that I remain a .Mac member?

This discussion is tremendously interesting to me for a number of reasons I can’t go on about, but one thing’s for sure:

The likelihood of my ever trusting .Mac’s e-mail service again is very, very small at this point.

Update: I’ve since received a URL to a support satisfaction survey – which was quite interesting in several regards, especially in terms of the metrics used:

All in all, I’d say that the mechanics of the overall process are interesting to watch, but that (for me, at least) the results aren’t that good.


See Also: