How Not To Do Customer Support

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Day 4 of the 100 blog posts in 100 days challengeDay 4. A rant.

I have a client who has an Outlook mail account. He has emails that are sent to his website domain forwarded to his Outlook account so that he only ever has to log in to one mail account.

Then emails started to disappear.

I checked the email server logs. They showed that they had contacted Outlooks servers, the protocols had been followed and the email successfully delivered. But the emails weren't showing up in the inbox.

If the domain had been added to a spam list a rejection notification should have been returned, but no negative emailed feedback was received.

But I checked that the domain wasn't on any spam lists anyway. Outlook uses http://www.spamcop.net/, I checked there: no problem.

And I also checked on http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx: no problem.

To double check I set up my own new Outlook email account and tried emailing from my clients domain. Same result no emails arrived. Even though the mail server logs confirmed the Outlook server had accepted and received the email.

Frustration

OK, time to get in touch with Outlook.com support.

So in Outlook.com I go to the cog icon and select Help. And then "Errors sending or receiving email" . None of the solutions here are what I am looking for.

So I go to the link "contact customer support". This gives me a form to fill in, so I put in the details and click send.

I get an email from Microsoft Technical Support saying I can view the incident on-line with a link in it. I click the link, it doesn't work in the browser I'm using. So I have to use Internet Explorer.

I open the link. What do I see? A copy of the email telling me I can follow the incident on-line!

This is a bit more urgent so I google for "Outlook support":

https://support.microsoft.com/find-solutions/office/outlook/

There's a link "Get live help". That looks like it could be helpful. So I get through to "Raquel"

Exasperation

What follows is an incredibly frustrating one and a half hours of me trying to convince Raquel that the problem is with Outlook and not my servers.

All the time she is saying that there are no problems with Outlook "you need to talk to your IT department." I am my IT department!!

Eventually she relents and says "i will try to contact our level 3 support". Hurray!

So, now I have to fill in a special form to talk to "level 3" support, I fill it in with the details of the problem and wait.

Then I get an email from: WINLV.EDFS.WW.00.EN.MSF.RMD.TS.T01.SPT.00.EM@css.one.microsoft.com

With a this response:

"Note: Errors are unlikely, however, if an error is indicated, please resubmit the specific IP or IP range.
Thank you,
Outlook.com Deliverability Support"

Very helpful, not.

At this point I throw the towel in. There are errors! But I have no idea where to resubmit the specific IP to.

And the email helpfully says "Please do not reply to this message as it is from an unattended mailbox".

So I do not know who to talk to, and have no means to continue the conversation.

But an hour later I get another email from WINLV.EDFS.WW.00.EN.MSF.RMD.TS.T01.SPT.00.EM

This time they admit there is a problem:

"Our investigation has determined that there are no active blocks against these IP(s); however, some messages were filtered. We have confirmed that these IP(s) are eligible for conditional mitigation, but may be subject to low daily email limits until they have established a good reputation. Please note that this mitigation does not guarantee that your mail will be delivered to a user's inbox.
Mitigation may take 24 - 48 hours to replicate completely throughout our system.
If you feel your issue is not yet resolved, please reply to this email and one of our support team members will contact you for further investigation."

OK so it was you then?

I think that is going to be as good as it gets. Why it would happen I don't know. The domain name isn't on any spam lists and is not used for any automatic mailing and doesn't have any mail lists associated with it. It is on a virtual private network and the mail server IP is used by only one client who's email volumes are very small.

It happened out of the blue with no warnings, and it was an Outlook.com problem.

Conclusion:

  1. Always be polite when dealing with technical support even if you are getting very frustrated.
  2. Don't give in.
  3. Use Gmail!


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Mike Nuttall

Author: Mike Nuttall

Mike has been web designing, programming and building web applications in Leeds for many years. He founded Onsitenow in 2009 and has been helping clients turn business ideas into on-line reality ever since. Mike can be followed on Twitter and has a profile on Google+.

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