Hell Oh Entropy!

Life, Code and everything in between

Net4 and the agony of Received-SPF

Posted: Jan 24, 2010, 01:51

Warning: This is a bit of a rant, so read on only if you’re in a bad mood and want someone to cuss at (either me or the entity I’m cussing at ;) )

I had recently bought email hosting services for my Mom from Net4 following decent service on the domain and web hosting front. It was a stupid decision. Net4 support for email pretty much sucks. Maybe I have only been lucky with the web hosting support too as I did not have to deal with morons for the most part. For the last two days I haven’t been so lucky.

I noticed the problem soon after the email hosting got activated — emails that I would send to any gmail accounts would go into the spam folder. I ignored it in the beginning mainly because I wasn't interested enough to look hard for what is wrong. But recently mom started complaining about it since her customers were not getting her emails. So we opened a ticket with Net4. For good measure, I also called so that I get immediate feedback. I was told to attach a sample email that went into spam. I did that. The support person then closed the ticket the next day asking for a sample email. Interesting.

So I open a support ticket once again and this time I try to do some research on why gmail may be doing this. I noticed the following header:

Received-SPF: neutral (google.com: xx.yy.zz.aa is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of mom@example.com) client-ip=xx.yy.zz.aa;

So I look up google and come across this article on SPF records. Apparently, net4 ought to be adding an SPF entry for my domain associating it with their mail servers. This entry will lead to the Received-SPF header being "pass" instead of "neutral". This is something that gmail takes into consideration while filtering for spam. While I realize that there may be other matters (email content, subject, etc.), all those factors do not come into the picture with my sample email. This seems to be the only missing link since my domain, mail server, etc. are not blacklisted either. I mention it in the support ticket and again attach the sample email. The ticket gets closed again with a request for a sample email. WTF?

I call up and ask the support tech. I try explaining about SPF and how that might be affecting things and he goes all ballistic (not figuratively, he's positively shouting) on me saying that this is on Linux and it does not work the way I am saying. With my ego hurt, I shouted back saying that I work for a Linux company :P

We end the call with the tech telling me that I am only throwing keywords around without knowing anything about it. He asks me how I would fix this and I admit that I don't know right away but I can do his job and look it up. He then bullshits me about how it is "the pop3 end which marks the spam with either SPAM tag in subject or moving to a spam folder" and so on. According to him SPF is something different and there is nothing wrong with it. He ended it saying that I was being an ass and that he will escalate the issue.

No, there is no hope. The last two issues were escalated too. Apparently everyone at Net4 is just a bunch of incompetent fools. Either that or those who aren't are eyeing management positions since that is the "way up the ladder". Or they're on their way out.

I think I need to be on my way out of this service. I may not get a refund this time but I can surely make sure that I don't renew my services with them and definitely not recommend their services to people I care about.


Well fed -- RSS Feeds

Posted: Mar 10, 2009, 22:48

My web host finally got its act together after telling me that RSS feeds not showing up on my website were a programming fault and opened up outgoing connections from my site to my journal. They were quite active in following up -- they even called back when my call got dropped. Quite nice.

Yes, I'll stop with my silly sense of humour now.