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Topic # 26341 18-Sep-2008 18:53
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Hi all,

If you have clients who run their own mail servers and are having trouble getting mail to Xtra customers then this may help or interest you. While the tone of this post has a distinctly ironic / sarcastic ring to it - it does contain helpful trouble shooting steps - painfully ecked out of xtra through hours of depressingly circular and frustrating phone calls.

YahooXtra have implemented a new 'security measure' that basically black lists peoples servers if they don't measure up to yahoos standards. We have a customer who doesn't show up on any of the 200 DNSBL Lists we checked with and who is definitely not sending spam, bulk mail or an open relay of any sort, yet, all mail from them to @xtra.co.nz is being dropped and black listed by Yahoo. Ironically Xtra does show up on those DNS Black Lists.

This customer has an xtra supplied static ip address and an exchange server running from that address. They do not however receive email on that address - instead off load collection to a third party spam filter and mail bagging system then pull it down from there. However Xtra tell us mail servers on other ISPs have also been treated in this cavalier fashion. It is not a one off but wider spread issue.

Yahoo are denying our client access to send email to other xtra customers but do not send bounce notifications, NDR, or other standard information back to show there is a problem. We only got it finally figured out telneting into send.xtra.co.nz and manually trying to submit an email using telnet.

Further more if you are silly enough to try resending the emails, send more than one email or connect to their server multiple times they implement a time out that leaves your mail servers smtp threads/processes hanging in retry mode waiting for them to respond (a reposnse which didn't happen within 30 minutes when we tested it).

This can seriously affect your mail delivery times as threads in your server are tied up waiting for yahoo to respond - but they don't. However if you telnet to their mail server, to test the mail sending issue, you get held up with a 421 code. The 421 also leaves you a pretty url to go to. Unfortunatley my mail server cant read. Oh yes - after issuing an ehlo command to their mail server don't wait to get a 250 OK response. It wont ever come.


In order to resolve this problem the following steps have had to be taken.

1 - A PTR record needs to be set up by Xtra with the mail servers fixed IP address (supplied by xtra) resolving to their mail server name (e.g. 125.xxx.xxx.xxx now resolves to server01.bogusname.co.nz) This stops yahoo rejecting their email out of hand. However this still ends up with all their emails to xtra customers being dumped into the junk mail folder by yahoo. These PTR records may also be required for other ISPs customers.

2 - An SPF record needs to be created. An SPF record is a TXT record in the DNS that states who can send email on behalf of the domain and what the IP addresses for all mail servers allowed to send mail for the domain are. Unfortunately if the sales person from the company goes to a hotel, connects via their ISP, sends email as being from themselves@bogusname.co.nz and that hotels IP address or the hotels ISP ip address are not in the SPF records you are normall bounced, banned or junked.

A valid SPF record creates a higher probability of mail rejection from non SPF record listed IP addresses. Ironically Yahoo and xtra do not have their own SPF records as they are "Big ISPs" and dont need them.

In our situation we cannot use an SPF record as this customer has managers and sales staff logging onto the internet from their own ISPs, hotels, dial up accounts, T3G hand sets ... ... ... We tested sending from various hotels ISPs and failed using SPF records.

3 - There are a series of forms you can fill out. Don't fill out the White List Application Form ( http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/mail/postmaster/postmaster_wl.html ) unless you send bulk mail or have subscription mailing lists. If you fill out section four or five of the form as "Not applicable bacause we dont spam, send bulk mail or run mailing lists", your form will be rejected by Yahoo leaving you blacklisted.

You need to fill out the Mail Issues Form (http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/mail/postmaster/defer.html ) telling them Xtra have set up PTR records for you. However the form will take 2 to 7 working days to be processed (if you can get the stupid thing to submit at all) so yahoo can check you really don't send spam. If you are sight impaired or just cant decipher particularly bad Captcha pictures you are stuffed at this point. Yahoo don't comply with basic W3 accessability standards on their forms. It took me 6 goes to get the captcha right

(No I'm not blind but an r or y next to an a or 4 that has a bent t or possibly a j and what could be an l next to an n or else just an h all jammed together and fuzzed over is hard to get right).

If the form submits and comes back blank (happened three times) don't assume it has gone through. It took four successful submissions (not counting the misread captcha attempts) to finally get a "your form has been received" message on the screen. You will have more success using IE6 or above than using Safari, Firefox, Opera, Netscape or any other W3 complient browser.

I don't know if this is the difinitive fix, I am still trying to belt my way through beauraracy but it might point the way forward for others who have the same issues.

START EDIT - MORE INFO - 22 Sept 2008
There turns out to be one extra step. The fixes above gets your mail delivered to their junk folder and not just completely banned.

To get out of their junk folder and into normal inbox seems to require one extra step - but I am not holding my breath it will work either.

Our exchange server is called server01.bogusCompany.local and is part of an internal lan domain named bogusCompany.local which as an organisation has an internet domain bogusCompany.co.nz

Our clients email addresses are @boguscompany.co.nz

When our Exchange server connects to an SMTP server it sends ehlo server01.bogusCompany.local

This raises the suspicion of yahoo so thay junk mail us - even though the external ip address is the same as the domain we claim to be sending from (eg.joBlogg@server01.bogusCompany.co.nz)

To use a .local internal lan domain is normal MS practice. It stops the lan domain and DNS creeping out to the internet DNS and domain and removes general confusion for over worked techs like me. Either I'm working with an internet domain or their lan - no confusion between .local and .co.nz.

Now we have to teach the server01 to use server01.bogusComany.co.nz instead of server01.local in its ehlo. Xtra claim this will stop yahoo dumping us in the junk bin.

I'll let you know how I get on and how to do the ehlo change - I'm not that conversant with exchange to know it off the cuff. Any one else out there knows - please chime in.

END EDIT MORE INFO 22 Sept 2008

How To Change EHLO 22 Sept 2008

Solution: (SBS 2003)

  • Open Exchange Server Manager drill down to
  • Administrative groups
  • Servers
  • Your server
  • Protocols
  • SMTP
  • Virtual Server, Properties

Deliver, and Advance, under Full qualified domain name, (VSEX1.smtp25.org) replace the entry with your public host record of your mail server FQDN (mail.smtp25.org), click Check DNS to make sure it is valid.

Stop and restart your Exchange Virtual server, now if you telnet into your server on port 25 you will get SMTP banner as mail.smtp25.org



End Edit How To Change EHLO 22 Sept 2008

Ironically if you use a different ISP, have a static IP address with them, send mail from that static IP address and receive email at that static IP address then yahoo will probably let you send email to xtra customers to your hearts content. Just don't be an xtra client with an xtra static ip address and your own domain name sending to other xtra customers.

Along the way -
I have also learnt that xtra can only communicate with yahoo via email or web forms, have no control over all the changes yahoo are making and have disabled their 0800 103 104 phone number to get through to Managed Customer Support.(try 0800 482 029 now)

I have also learnt that Xtra fervantly believe this is all designed to make the internet a safer place. On that I can agree. If you cant send email and you cant recevie email and you spend your time on the telephone to xtra and the rest of your time filling out meaningless forms then the internet is indeed a safer place. You are after all not using it - therefore it is a safer place. Well done Xtra - you have succeeded in that goal.

Regards




nunz

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  Reply # 165465 18-Sep-2008 20:36
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Or just do nothing and get the recipiants to contact xtra with the problem they are not getting email, and suggest they change ISPs if they can get no resolution for it.




Richard rich.ms



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  Reply # 165471 18-Sep-2008 20:54
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richms: Or just do nothing and get the recipiants to contact xtra with the problem they are not getting email, and suggest they change ISPs if they can get no resolution for it.


Unfortunately not the answer my clients want to hear. Trying to contact every xtra client by phone, fax or mail when they have requested info from you is not really possible for most businesses. Maybe time for the revolution has arrived.

When X meets Y good things happen - People leave xtra :)




nunz

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  Reply # 165472 18-Sep-2008 21:09
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Leaving Xtra isn't so easy though as they tend to make it as painful as possible.  Try moving a domain away.  I've lost count of the number of times I've had to call them back (and finally talk to someone who knows what to do) and get them to manually remove A records.  In the meantime they tell the angry client that their new host is to blame if their website isn't showing.



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Reply # 165482 18-Sep-2008 21:51
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reganjcunliffe: Leaving Xtra isn't so easy though as they tend to make it as painful as possible.  Try moving a domain away.  I've lost count of the number of times I've had to call them back (and finally talk to someone who knows what to do) and get them to manually remove A records.  In the meantime they tell the angry client that their new host is to blame if their website isn't showing.


I've found the trick is to not let them get you off the phone but to keep forcing them to stay on the phone and pass you onto their supervisor. I also tend to tell each person I get handed to how many people I have already talked to this phone call, how long I have been on the phone and the inverse relationship between that number and the amount of crud I will take before swearing at somebody ;)  I normally find person number 6 gets warned and person number 7 gets sworn at. Not nice or polite but an irate and foul mouthed version of myself unfortunately seems to get better results than a me being a polite and reasonable customer. Sad but true.
Alternatively you could alsways dial 0800 10-80-10  and push random 5 digit extention numbers and see where that gets you





nunz

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  Reply # 165486 18-Sep-2008 22:01
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You're far more patient than I am.  I'm so over being polite with them when their tactics are deliberate.  The first person gets both barrells and any transfer time is purely used for reloading.

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Reply # 165546 19-Sep-2008 08:00
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Very good post. This is exactly the problem a friend asked about a day before, in a private mailing list.




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  Reply # 165572 19-Sep-2008 09:31
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We have multiple customers sites with this same issue - we have found that using a smart host entry for smtp.xtra.co.nz does work but this is not a perminent solution.

Thanks for the great guide - the part about the forms to fill out is gold.

We have been told by Xtra that they cant tell us the 100% fix as spammers would then be able to copy the setup??????

I will now be advising all of my customers to move to another ISP if at all possible.




When you live your life on Twitter and Facebook, and are only friends with like minded people on Twitter and Facebook, you are not living in the real world. You are living in a narcissistic echo chamber.

 


My thoughts are my own and are in no way representative of my employer.


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  Reply # 165574 19-Sep-2008 09:37
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nunz:
richms: Or just do nothing and get the recipiants to contact xtra with the problem they are not getting email, and suggest they change ISPs if they can get no resolution for it.


Unfortunately not the answer my clients want to hear. Trying to contact every xtra client by phone, fax or mail when they have requested info from you is not really possible for most businesses. Maybe time for the revolution has arrived.

When X meets Y good things happen - People leave xtra :)

 

If they can't change ISP can they at least change mail hosts?

 

A very good post. Some organisations forget that while spam is bad, not receiving legitimate email is worse.





 

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  Reply # 165590 19-Sep-2008 10:17
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nunz: (Xtra) have disabled their 0800 103 104 phone number to get through to Managed Customer Support.(try 0800 482 *** now)

This was never an Xtra number, but in fact Telecom.

Everyone wanted Telecom split up, so the MCC was reborn as Managed Customer Centre Hubs under Gen-i, and each managed customer belongs to one of several hubs, with different email address and 0800 number (e.g. the new number you listed is not my hub).

If you are a managed customer, your client manager should have provided you the new details quite some time ago.

Note to viewers. If you do not have a Client Manager or other similarly titled dedicated helper at Telecom, you are probably not a managed customer and these details are no good to you. Call 126 et al.

This is an email to introduce the Gen-i Managed Customer Centre.  The MCC is available for your moves, adds, changes, faults and billing enquiries.

 

Your free-phone number will be 0800 482 *** (0800 HUB ***) and your email ****@gen-i.co.nz.

 

These numbers will take you through to a “hub” where a dedicated team of Managed Customer Centre reps plus a support team of technical people will handle all your work from Moves, Adds and changes for voice, data and mobile to billing disputes for all products, except One Office.  

 

Your “hub” reps will have the opportunity to get to know you and your business better and we hope you’ll get to know them.

 

Your dedicated “hub” team will have the capacity to handle your requests more quickly and efficiently through the co-location of the specialist provisioning areas.  Your requests will be handled end-to-end within the “hub.” A one-stop-shop instead of being sent off to other areas in our business to be processed.  

 

Our pilot teams for the “hub” project delivered a 30% improvement in through-put time for Mac's and we are now keen to pass on this improved service to you.

 

We aim to make it possible for you to focus more on your own business by spending less time dealing with us.

 

Please cascade this throughout your organisation.

 

Let me know if you have any questions.





Visit http://www.thecloud.net.nz for New Zealand based Hosted Exchange, Virtual Servers, Web Hosting, FTP Backup & more.
(1GB free FTP storage, or larger plans from $5.75)
 
 - Setup your own mailserver at home on Ubuntu Server - full step by step howto here.
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  Reply # 165597 19-Sep-2008 11:03
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I have a customer who runs an exchange server and web servers that send SMTP email as confirmation and that contain documents after a successful insurance sale online.

Many of this customers end users are Xtra customers all over New Zealand and have found that the SMTP emails have been treated as SPAM by Xtra and so all subsequent Emails from the Exchange server are also tagged as SPAM and are ending up in Junk Email.

Each customer has to manually make the send 'safe' before they can receive emails again.

Very frustrating, but a great post as it may well provide a solution without hundreds of agents calling wanting to know why they can't receive emails.

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  Reply # 165599 19-Sep-2008 11:11
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You can also implement "DomainKeys". I spent many weeks trying to work out why my mail was being rejected by Yahoo as spam. I checked all my DNS records and added SPF (I have a single mail server), asked to be whitelisted, etc etc. My mail server is MS Exchange 2003, and MS do not (or at least did not) support Domain Keys so I never jumped the last hurdle.

Email from my server is still rejected as spam by Yahoo, but the most annoying thing is that XtraYahoo customers don't even get to see their spam unless they log on to webmail (the problem is worse if they migrated from aliased accounts etc).

There is no guarantee that DomainKeys will help either, but it would be interesting to know if anyone with their own mail server has determined if this fixes this problem or not.

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Reply # 165602 19-Sep-2008 11:41
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@aol.com
@hotmail.com
@yahoo.anything
@xtra.co.nz

Go on - somebody make a connection... I DARES YA !!




Visit http://www.thecloud.net.nz for New Zealand based Hosted Exchange, Virtual Servers, Web Hosting, FTP Backup & more.
(1GB free FTP storage, or larger plans from $5.75)
 
 - Setup your own mailserver at home on Ubuntu Server - full step by step howto here.
 - Have you seen this: Nathan "KFC4LIFE" Dunn.




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  Reply # 166195 22-Sep-2008 10:44
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bobmeister: I have a customer who runs an exchange server and web servers that send SMTP email as confirmation and that contain documents after a successful insurance sale online.

Many of this customers end users are Xtra customers all over New Zealand and have found that the SMTP emails have been treated as SPAM by Xtra and so all subsequent Emails from the Exchange server are also tagged as SPAM and are ending up in Junk Email.

Each customer has to manually make the send 'safe' before they can receive emails again.

Very frustrating, but a great post as it may well provide a solution without hundreds of agents calling wanting to know why they can't receive emails.


There turns out to be one extra step. The fixes above gets your mail delivered to their junk folder and not just completely banned.

To get out of their junk folder and into normal inbox seems to require one extra step - but I am not holding my breath it will work either.

Our exchange server is called server01.bogusCompany.local and is part of an internal lan domain named bogusCompany.local which as an organisation has an internet domain bogusCompany.co.nz

Our clients email addresses are <insertname>@boguscompany.co.nz

When our Exchange server connects to an SMTP server it sends ehlo server01.bogusCompany.local

This raises the suspicion of yahoo so thay junk mail us - even though the external ip address is the same as the domain we claim to be sending from (eg.joBlogg@server01.bogusCompany.co.nz)

To use a .local internal lan domain is normal MS practice. It stops the lan domain and DNS creeping out to the internet DNS and domain and removes general confusion for over worked techs like me. Either I'm working with an internet domain or their lan - no confusion between .local and .co.nz.

Now we have to teach the server01 to use server01.bogusComany.co.nz  instead of server01.local in its ehlo. Xtra claim this will stop yahoo dumping us in the junk bin.

I'll let you know how I get on and how to do the ehlo change - I'm not that conversant with exchange to know it off the cuff. Any one else out there knows - please chime in. Glad this was of help to others.






nunz

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  Reply # 166206 22-Sep-2008 11:17
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My customer is still on a Windows 2000/Exchange 2000 setup, so I'm pretty sure it will not be sending mail as name@boguscompany.local.  (Although I'm about to upgrade them to Windows 2003/Exchange 2003 now and then Windows 2008/Exchange 2007 in November.)

They are going out through ISA Server (outside the Domain) and Mail Marshal, so I wonder if that is having an effect on how Xtra sees the email server.

However, in saying that, my own company has a SBS2003 and I can send email to Xtra customers no problem, so that was why I thought it was probably the SMTP emails from the web servers that caused the problem.

I hope someone from Xtra is reading this thread.



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  Reply # 166222 22-Sep-2008 11:59
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bobmeister: My customer is still on a Windows 2000/Exchange 2000 setup, so I'm pretty sure it will not be sending mail as name@boguscompany.local. (Although I'm about to upgrade them to Windows 2003/Exchange 2003 now and then Windows 2008/Exchange 2007 in November.)

They are going out through ISA Server (outside the Domain) and Mail Marshal, so I wonder if that is having an effect on how Xtra sees the email server.

However, in saying that, my own company has a SBS2003 and I can send email to Xtra customers no problem, so that was why I thought it was probably the SMTP emails from the web servers that caused the problem.

I hope someone from Xtra is reading this thread.


Hi Bob. It is not the email address the person is sending as causing the problems as much as the ehlo that the server sends out. My customers email address is <person>@company.co.nz but the email server sees itself as server01.company.local   - owing to the internal domain.

Send yourself an email from the server and look through the headers to see what the ehlo part is.

Here is a <anonymised> header from our server as seen by yahoo / xtra..

From Administrator Thu Sep 18 23:41:20 2008
Return-Path: <administrator@company.co.nz>


Authentication-Results: mta107.tnz.mail.aue.yahoo.com  from=company.co.nz; domainkeys=neutral (no sig)
Received: from 125.236.555.666  (EHLO company.local) (125.236.555.666)
  by mta107.tnz.mail.aue.yahoo.com with SMTP; Thu, 18 Sep 2008 16:41:21 -0700
Subject: From NUNZ as a test At 11:40
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:41:20 +1200
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
 boundary="----_=_NextPart_001_01C919E8.0D5A3FE0"
Message-ID: <5B1C5FAC900A0141B0C957E1BADC6032046F62@SERVER01.company.local>
Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
......





nunz

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