Is your ISP censoring your email?

Posted on: August 10th, 2006 by Michelle Stramel

One of the issues that we frequently run into with customers is that some customers are not receiving the emails we send to them. Here are a couple of examples:

1. Suzie orders new software. At the completion of the order we state that an email has been sent with instructions. Suzie checks her email. No email from Laridian. She doesn’t have the instructions nor does she have a receipt for her records.

2. Suzie forgot her password. She goes to the Login page and clicks the link for “Have You Forgotten Your Password?”. She enters the email address that is in her Laridian account. She clicks the send button. It states “We’ve sent your Customer ID and Password to you at [susie’s email address]”. This indicates that Suzie has entered a valid email address that matches our records. Suzie checks her email. No email from Laridian. She tries again (and again, and again), same thing. Suzie gets frustrated and calls or sends us an email asking why we aren’t responding to her request.

In both of these circumstances our automated system has immediately sent out the email. So why isn’t Suzie receiving them?

The most common cause is due to a spam filter.

Now if Suzie is running a spam filter that has blocked us, that’s ok. Suzie may determine what email messages she does and does not want to receive. Once Suzie recognizes that Laridian is being blocked as a result of her settings, the local spam filter can be adjusted to allow Laridian email. Suzie can add us to her email address book or “Safe List” to ensure that our messages are received in the future. The following link is one that I’ve recently run into that provides good information on doing this with several of the major email providers.

But what if Suzie isn’t running a spam filter or Laridian has been added to her safe list and she still doesn’t get our messages? The next most likely cause is that Suzie’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) is blocking our messages to her. This is like Suzie’s mailman going through her mail and deciding what Suzie does and does not want. It’s a form of censorship. If you don’t want your postal service to do that then why would you want your ISP to do this?

If you find that your ISP is blocking legitimate messages (for instance, if you’ve requested information from a company but never receive it), the best thing you can do is contact the ISP. Find out what can be done to let the messages through that you want to receive. Be ready with some type of proof that you are not getting all of your email. Examples like I provided above in not receiving confirmation emails from a specific company can help you.

To be fair to the ISPs, this problem is due to people like you and me complaining to their ISPs (or the government) about getting too much spam. As a result, some ISPs have been forced to add these measures to their system. Until a perfect system is found, these types of issues will continue to occur. Educating yourself on such issues can help you continue receiving the e-mail messages that are important to you.

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