.Mac Mail Closure

Update: After further insistence (regarding my e-mail woes and other things), a .Mac service representative called me to explain things a bit further. See the bottom of this post for more.

I’ve been mostly neglecting my e-mail for the past week or so, so following up on my .Mac e-mail woes (previously, earlier) wasn’t very easy.

Nevertheless, I got another e-mail from .Mac support a week ago from yet another support representative, who, again, sent me a correct (but not really enlightening, and rather condescending) reply:

.Mac’s use of SMTP Authentication (SMTP AUTH) does not serve as a guarantee that .Mac will deliver your message. The use of SMTP Authentication on .Mac Mail servers is to verify that our servers aren’t being used to send mail from other email addresses, like in the case of spam.

Which is pretty much what I already know. No surprises there.

This also allows you to accept SMTP traffic only from authenticated clients. SMTP AUTH allows an SMTP client to authenticate with a name and password when sending mail, thus allowing you to restrict who can send SMTP traffic to your server (whether for relay or local delivery).

Again, nothing new. Or useful. This is clearly boilerplate text, and rather condescending considering that in my e-mail I took the time to explain that I do know quite a bit about managing large-scale e-mail systems…

Your previous issue of not being able to send yourself messages was not related to the SMTP AUTH of the .Mac Mail servers.

And here’s where the message ends. No explanation about what happened. No explanation about why I could send e-mail via one ISP connection and not via another (both using their SMTP servers).

No apology for the lost e-mails (only repeated apologies for repeatedly misunderstanding my inquiries, which are sounding more and more hollow).

So I asked again what explanation they had regarding why I lost messages using their server via one ISP and not via another – and will keep you posted on the reply, if any.

Given that it takes several tries to get non-committal, pointless “answers”, I have to wonder – after all, for US$99 a year, I surely expected more.

Update: Apple Calls

I got a call this afternoon (the 7th, at roughly 9 Cupertino time) from Apple about my user experience, and what they could do to improve it. I will not publish the details, but the conclusions that can be gleaned from the whole thing are as follows:

  1. Yes, Apple does care about your .Mac user experience – overall, and not just regarding e-mail.
  2. IP addresses are, in fact, a factor in spam filtering (regardless of authentication) – at which point I did point out that spam filtering usually takes into account a few more variables.
  3. They are aware of the implications of these (and other issues) and are trying to improve the service (procedurally, and not just technically).

Since I understand a lot of the mechanisms behind support processes (for those who just tuned in, I am a product manager at Vodafone Portugal, and pointed out to the person who called me I also have to deal with similar issues on a daily basis), the whole thing was an interesting experience in more ways than one.

The bottom line is that yes, I will keep using my .Mac account until October or so. If things do improve, I’ll renew again (since having the full Apple experience matters to me).

Obviously, the person I talked to could not share any details on how or when things would be improved, but I find that acceptable – after all, every service provider of any sort has to be consistent where it regards managing their customers’ expectations.

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