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1941 posts

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  # 2228862 1-May-2019 16:57
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I've read many articles over the last 20+ years saying why we shouldn't rely on ISP-supplied email addresses. We moved to webmail for our main email accounts in the late 1990s and only used ISP email for a small number of NZ businesses and websites. It's always been a worthwhile move because we've had access to newer email features and better options when travelling. Switching to webmail would have been worthwhile even if we'd never moved away from the ISP which has gone through several names: Paradise/Clear/TelstraClear/Vodafone.

I think that most of us have been "fortunate" that we have been able to hold onto old email addresses (e.g. @paradise.net.nz) so long after the brands and companies have disappeared. Except that we are now paying the price of thinking we would have ISP email forever. Around the world, many people have learnt that this isn't the case. We could have been as badly off as many user of ISP-supplied email in the USA who have had to change every time there is a merger/takeover:

http://www.jolanders.com/website/zzz_email_and_spam_reduction_tips/website_email_address.php
how many people had email addresses @mediaone.net? Then in February, 2002 Media One became AT&T, and all of a sudden everybody's address changed to @attbi.com. People didn't get a choice; they had to notify every mailing list, business associate and friend about the address change if they wanted to continue receiving email from them. This happened AGAIN, in July of 2003, when all the @attbi.com addresses were changed to @comcast.net, and all those people had to notify everybody a second time.


Those few accounts that depended on Vodafone were switched up to a year before the service closed. That seemed an obvious thing to do so we had lots of time to handle forgotten accounts that produced an annual email. If we didn't remember the account and didn't receive any email from them in a whole year then we didn't really need them.



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  # 2228872 1-May-2019 17:15
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pristle:
phantomdb: but can I bail on my contract for not providing all services......???
If you speak to them, you'll find they may be accommodating. They were when I approached them when they originally cancelled the email functions. I was ropeable at the time, as I'd only just re-signed with them on the premise that email services would be safe despite rumours. The unfortunate thing is I'm still on mailing lists from 1995, which despite best efforts, I've been unable to redirect.

 

 

 

Looks like i will have to ask nicely and see where that goes.. cheers for your input my good man





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  # 2228891 1-May-2019 17:58
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muppet:

 

Poor Vodafone.

 

I guess ARC signing email as they forward it is "too hard".

 

Alas.

 

 

 

 

Nope, not too hard. But it doesn't help. ARC signing lets the final recipient know that VF was indeed the forwarder. But, since most of the forwarded mail is spam, the recipient's ISP just sees a torrent of spam coming from VF, and adds them to a block list. The recipient ISP doesn't take the time and effort (not inconsiderable) to only blacklist the original source. Instead, it takes the not unreasonable view that VF should be filtering the spam in the first place. Since different recipients will have different capabilities and policies, it only takes one of the to add the VF server address to a RBL and lots of other ISPs will also block them—even if they would otherwise be happy with the ARC/DKIM forwarding.


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  # 2230481 3-May-2019 21:10
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@michaeln All fair points.  The original PR reads (to me, I guess with my nerd hat on) that the mailserver getting the forward is rejecting them due to SPF failing, which I've seen many times.  People setup DMARC rules and SPF rules, which is great, but doing so breaks forwarded mail (to a mailserver that checks DMARC) because SPF no longer matches.

 

ARC signing of headers (so you can "verify" the original SPF header) overcomes this.

 

But yes if you're just blindly forwarding everything on with little to no spam filtering... A world of pain indeed.


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  # 2233123 8-May-2019 16:16
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This reminds me of a story from the TelstraClear days. Buckle in.

 

Those of you who have had the pleasure of working in customer-facing roles in telco-land will be well aware of the paperclips and rubberbands approach to company acquisitions, and how these ad-hoc solutions will often stay in place for years on end. Such was the case with Paradise, which was otherwise a wonderful piece of kit and clearly made with love - the backend was named GOTTI, which charmingly stood for "Get On To The Internet." Around ten years ago when I worked for TCL, and this well before Voda's acquisition, I found myself at one point running the Paradise helpdesk. This was a real good time as there was very little documentation and most of the working knowledge had walked out the door. The company was extremely siloed, and left hand did not know that right hand existed - to the point of fabricating their own suspect substitute right hand.

 

The powers that be decided to press ahead with a Paradise Migration Project, i.e. do their best to boot everyone off of the old system and on to ClearNet so they wouldn't have to keep Paradise running anymore. The death came through many small cuts, as regulatory changes to payment processing meant the credit card payment functionality had to be removed rather than spend money upgrading it. This meant that customers had to manually fill out direct debit forms on paper and physically post them in, which was charming enough in and of itself. The real kicker came when a sales team with no prior experience with or knowledge of the Paradise backend was tasked with contacting customers to inform them that Paradise would be retired and they would need to switch to ClearNet - and performing the provisioning for mail forwarding, which could only be set up to ClearNet addresses.

 

An automated email was sent to all active Paradise customers, which was all well and good, except that Paradise supported email aliases and multiple mailboxes, and said automated email was sent only to the original 'primary' mailbox on the account - which at that point was not necessarily the mailbox actually in use by the account holder. This email effectively said "If we do not hear from you, we will freeze your account until you contact us" and provided contact details. Inevitably, many customers did not receive this email, as it was not sent to the mailbox they used, and the accounts were parked. This prompted hundreds of emails from these customers saying "Hey, I can't get into my mailbox," to which the official response was to be "We're sorry, you have contacted us from an email address that has not been explicitly listed as an authorised alternative contact address on this Paradise account, please email us from your authorised Paradise.net mailbox." Which was of course laughable as their account had been parked and they could not do so. And this was why they were contacting us.

 

To add insult to injury, said sales team were clearly given some questionable KPIs and left under-resourced. They proceeded to sign customers up for ClearNet services without cancelling the Paradise service, setting up mail forwarding, or telling those customers how to set their new services up, resulting in serious confusion and double-billing. Accounts were nuked without notice and many important customer emails were gone forever. The backlog for mail forwarding, which could supposedly only be performed by that team, stretched into months and multiple billing cycles. The callback ticket queue for the migration team similarly stretched out for months, and many of the long-term customers had long since moved overseas, where said team would not call them. I, and others in my team, were appalled. These customers who had been loyal for years and diligently paying through the nose for those years (min $20 per 28 day billing cycle as I recall) were reaching out for help, and we were to tell them "Sorry, you're not authorised on your own account" and "You need to talk to an unreachable team, we can't help you."

 

Now, mistakes happen and we're all human, but the consistent volume of accounts left broken and customers left high and dry led to spreadsheets full of documentation being sent through as internal feedback. Nothing of note was done to rectify this.

 

The rebellious and/or treasonous solution my team settled on was an apologetic and sympathetic email template, a process of reactivating the account for another billing cycle regardless of the email address that the customer contacted us on (bearing in mind that no identifing information was given and nothing else was changed, no-one would be able to access that account without the login credentials), giving the customer the contact details of the migration team, one billing cycle for free, and submitting a callback request in the forlorn hope that the customer and the migration team would cross paths at some time in the next 28 day cycle. This eventually evolved into someone in my team getting hold of the access to perform the mail forwarding ourselves, and discovering that - despite the company line we had been fed - there was no such restriction on 'only' setting up mail forwarding to ClearNet addresses. Armed with this, we fixed and helped as many cases as we could given resources - at least until someone else accidentally broke an account and it got out that we were doing this. We in Customer Service were summarily all slapped on the wrist for helping customers, the head of the migration team was rolled (as I recall), and many customers just gave up on their beloved Paradise email addresses and churned. At least we tried.

 

A number of those mail-forwarded Paradise addresses are likely to have remained in place and use all the way up until this latest move. This is ultimately a sensible thing to do on Vodafone's part as ISPs just aren't well equipped to provide personal/consumer email services anymore. I hope that if any of those Paradise customers are out there, perhaps even reading this thread, they know that there were (and still are) people in those big telco machines who care. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.


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  # 2233141 8-May-2019 16:56
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The Paradise debacle, I had several clients who were royally ropable over that fiasco. Doubly so in some cases when after they found themselves sold to one entity, they were then sold to another.

 

 

The tale of the backend systems rings memory bells. I recall a comversation with the helpdesk where a VFNZ client moved house to a fibre only neighbourhood and had to pay two accounts, one for for their email address and the other for fibre. Whilst the client had been a ClearNet before the merge, when they upgraded from ADSL to VDSL they were moved to iHUG's old billing system. In terms of fibre at the new address it could only be serviced by the old ClearNet system. Vodafone were never able to migrate the email address to the fibre account.

 

 

Until Vodafone started acquisitions, to a lesser or greater degree these different ISPs seemed to have a grip on the services they were offering. Vodafone's initial failing was not developing a strong infrastructure into which these services could be imported.

 

 

My question is, why did they not do what Spark did and go to a (reputable) 3rd party to handle the email servicing duties? I would have grudgingly paid another $5-$10/month to keep my iHUG addresses.

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  # 2234315 10-May-2019 09:42
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pristle: My question is, why did they not do what Spark did and go to a (reputable) 3rd party to handle the email servicing duties?

 

That decision caused Spark no end of pain in all sorts of areas.


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  # 2234336 10-May-2019 09:57
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The failed Yahoo! experiment? Of course. Who didn't see that coming?

 

 

Now that the dust has settle, from all account the service from SMX seems to be somewhat hassle-free.

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  # 2234418 10-May-2019 11:35
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Yikes. Memories... I was ex-Paradise (and TCL) too. What a brain-dead company Telstra Clear was. Glad I got out before it got really bad.

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  # 2239305 16-May-2019 16:21
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Have they shut it down already?  All the abovementioned domains for the last week or so be like:

 


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  # 2239306 16-May-2019 16:23
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... I saw it working a while back albeit with a 30+ second connection delay which causes timeouts to anyone that hasn't bumped up their timeouts on outgoing mail.


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