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Re: AOL 421 errors

  • From: Jim Popovitch
  • Date: Wed May 03 17:15:36 2006
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Matthew Black wrote:

We've noticed a surge in 421 e-mail errors from AOL.

Message soft bounced for '', '4.3.2 - Not accepting messages at this time ('421', [': (DYN:T1)', 'SERVICE NOT AVAILABLE']) []'

It seems as though they've tightened down their policies.
We're pretty good at preventing spam with our IronPort
anti-spam gateways and internal policies.

We've also subscribed to their FBL notification service.
I'm surprised at the types of messages AOL customers consider
as spam. Anything and everything: university admission acceptance
notices; instructor class assignments; photos from friends; etc.

I've been dealing with this too for 6 days now (2 of them while away on vacation). AOL Postmasters, while very friendly and nice, have provided me more "answers" than one could fit in a magic 8-ball. We've got 334 list members who are barely receiving email that they want to receive. We run Q&A lists for 2 non-profits, one technical, the other cancer related. Users post questions, experienced users provide answers. Nothing more.

I've have had FBLs setup and been on AOL's whitelist for 2+ years now, and I am about at my wits end with dealing with them. It is no wonder that their user base is shrinking, and it is sad that they treat their own customers with such broadly applied brushes. Sure there are spam problems, but to block requested email from reaching interested users (some of them being AOL employees themselves) is just plain wrong.

I will say this, numerous AOL postmasters have told me that they have issues with their FBL system (I've got 2 open tickets on that alone). I have also been told that our email should not be being blocked/delayed, and I have open tickets on that too. But that in no way explains to me why the have happily accepted an average of 162332 emails each month from us for the past 3+ years and that now they don't want it. :-)

It is worth pointing out that Yahoo!, Cox, GMail, HotMail/MSN,, Earthlink, Verizon, and SBC Global happily receive almost similar amounts of email from us without the need for whitelists, FBLs, etc. What is funny is that the domains have SPF records which AOL likes, but they don't yet have DomainKeys which Yahoo! likes. AOL could learn a *lot* from their competition when it comes to handling email.

-Jim P.