Details Come Out Concerning Lawsuits Over Verizon's Aggressive Email Filtering

from the lots-of-very-angry-people dept

Late last year, Verizon customers discovered that the company had implemented an extremely aggressive anti-spam filter that was blocking (without notice!) almost all foreign emails. A lot of small business people claimed they lost business from this. Verizon's oh-so-friendly response was that those people should learn to use a phone instead. Of course, this is the same company that mocks people for expecting their mobile phones to work at home, so it's cavalier attitude towards customer complaints doesn't seem out of character. In January, there was talk of a class action suit against the company, and it appears that's moving forward. Currently, a lawyer is trying to negotiate a settlement, but says he's willing to take it to court. Verizon continues to stand by the filter, with vague statements about how important it is to stop spam. The article also notes that at least one person has sued Verizon in small claims court, saying that he's lost business because of Verizon's policy. Verizon told him he can apply to be put on a whitelist, but his email request to have that happen bounced, because Verizon claimed it was spam. There's nothing wrong with trying to fight spam, but it seems clear that Verizon's filter is way too aggressive, and without any realistic way for customers to make sure they're not losing emails, it seems that Verizon's "suck it up and deal with it" attitude isn't going to do them any favors.
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  • identicon
    Just Me, 12 May 2005 @ 6:11am

    Oh for the love of...

    Geez, this is BS. Email should NEVER BE USED for MISSION CRITICAL communications. For those of you who have built your business on email, take a minute and Read the RFC !!!! There is no (zero, nada, zip) guarentee of delivery at all. There is no (zero, nada, zip) guarentee the the message will arrive intact. There is no (zero, nada, zip) guarentee the message weill be received by the intended recipient.
    So sorry. Next player please.
    NONE
    ZERO
    NADA
    ZIPPO

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chomper, 12 May 2005 @ 7:35am

    No Subject Given

    Besides stupid comments by people like Just Me, why don't these people just go to another provider? How many ISP's are out there? E-mail companies?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Just Me, 12 May 2005 @ 9:17am

    Chomper misses the point

    No offense, but I don't think you are seeing the larger picture. I've got some experience in this, I've RTFM and I process ~ a million messages each day though my mail servers. Spam is a massive problem for us. We've invested lots of time, money and effort trying to keep the junk out while allowing the good stuff in.
    These people are upset because they lost business when their mail was blocked. Missed Point #1: Moving to another ISP won't solve the issue, because blocking is not in the hands of the end user. It is the prerogative of each ISP and company and they may choose to accempt, or not, each message. Also, they may be blocked by anyone else in the future. Unfortunately, business owners need to understand that email is not reliable for mission critical information, like orders and contracts. Here's a current example: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050510-4888.html
    Missed Point #2: Why did they switch from other methods to send paperwork to people (faxing, registered mail, etc.)? Convenience, which breaks down to speed and (an incorrect) perception of reliability. The SMTP protocol is great, but it was developed more than 20 years ago and is essentially just a framework for trust relationships. This works fine for 'hey how are you doing Mom' type of mail, but not so well for the 'I need a millions widgets by tomorrow and I'll pay you lots of money' messages.
    The next time you need to send a payment to your bank, for example, you have two options. Hand it to a guy walking in the right direction and see if it gets there, or put it in an envelope and hand it to the Postman.
    .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chomper, 12 May 2005 @ 9:52am

      Re: Chomper misses the point

      I think a lot of businesses realize that e-mail is not reliable all the time, however, you are missing the point that they know Verizon is DELIBERATELY blocking their e-mails.

      That is the main issue, not the reliability but the fact that Verizon is blocking them ON PURPOSE.

      So when faced with that, they should complain and have Verizon tone down it's overly aggressive spam filter.

      That's all their asking, the issue was never about e-mail reliability.

      But the fact is many businesses are run by e-mail. Phone calls cost too much.

      I'm not saying your wrong, but just for this very narrow issue, I think it's the right solution for the wrong problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      wtf, 11 Nov 2005 @ 11:04am

      Re: Chomper misses the point

      Did you know that corporations like Verizon have people on their payroll to defend them in public forums, like this one, as a seemingly unbiast, ananymous, average joe citizen

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Maresca, 12 May 2005 @ 12:56pm

    Funny enough...

    ... I still get more spam from Verizon email addresses than anyone else. And, as far as the comments from "email provider" above, you're fooling yourself if you think that your users don't view email as critical. From an admin's standpoint, it may be stupid to rely on it, but the reality is that they do, wether you want to acknowledge it or not.

    Pretty much everyone uses email for 'critical' communications. From the White House, to the US Navy, to CEO's of major companies, pretty much anyone who makes major decisions these days relies on email for a huge chunk of critical communication. I know it's hard to fathom, but most execs I know (from companies like IBM, Sun, Nokia and others I consult for) are tethered to their Blackberries, which receive.... email.

    It may not be 'mission critical' in the US Navy sense (although they DO use email for that as well, just not over public networks, and not for 'command and control') and no one is going to die as a result of it not getting through, but it would be a huge problem were it not to work as expected.

    And, I agree, people using Verizon should just move to a different provider. That said, if you are locked into a multi-year contract, it may be easier said than done.

    Chris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jojo, 12 May 2005 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Funny enough...

      Verizon isn't alone in doing this. SBC started this last year and caused me (and many others) a lot of grief. They outsourced spam filtering to an external entity and implemented this change with absolutely no notice to their users. Unfortunately, the spam policing company was flagging a lot of good mail as spam. I lost about 15 email newsletters that I was getting and may have lost responses to resumes I was sending out.

      There was no way for the user to opt-out of this new "feature" and when "spam" was blocked, the USER wasn't notified and/or given a copy of the blocked mail. Instead the email was bounced back to the provider with this message:

      ******************
      SMTP error from remote mailer after end of data:
      host mail-fwd.mx.sbc-webhosting.com [161.58.18.5]:
      554 Denied
      ******************

      Now if you are running some sort of email list, one, does this message tell you anything and two, are you going to chase down the ISP if you get a lot of these messages to figure out what the problem is? I think not. What most will do it dump the email address and not send anything again. Weeks or months later when you realize that you are not getting things you signed up for, you might chase down the provider and ask what happened. But they will have moved on and probably won't have any records saved. And trying to deal with what passes for tech support at a telco company is a sure recipe for madness.

      Eventually, after months of user complaints and much lost mail, SBC implemented a control to opt-out of the spam filtering. But I still think they are blocking some mail since newsletters that I used to get regularly, like Woody's Office Watch for instance, no longer come in. I've mostly transferred my subscriptions to a web mail service that doesn't do any filtering themselves.

      An ISP should forward all mail received and not be in the business of trying to decide what is spam and what isn't. It should be up to the user to make that decision and to choose to filter spam. If the user is too stupid to understand how to implement or tune spam filters, then maybe they should have their damm computer confiscated or at least their internet connection blocked!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        dit, 12 May 2005 @ 4:03pm

        Re: Funny enough...

        agree wholeheartedly with above. isps should not be deleting emails without consent. period. you are paying for email service not email deletion service. If people want half their legit emails deleted fine, let them check a box. But if they dont, then LET THEM OPT OUT!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rae, 18 May 2005 @ 5:37am

    Verizon e-mail problems

    I live in Northern Virginia and I have Verizon DSL. For several years Verizon users have had difficulty receiving e-mails from various companies. I do not use a spam filter either on my machine, nor have I activated the Verizon-provided spam filter on their server.

    A librarian at the Fairfax County Library told me this difficulty was due to Verizon's blocking of "forwarded e-mail." The Fairfax County Library had difficulty getting their mail to Verizon's customers but somehow worked with Verizon to solve this problem.

    HOWEVER, there are numerous other providers who I cannot receive e-mails from. I can't receive Adobe's e-mails when I sign up for a forum, for example. They send you an acknowledgment, here's your password e-mail and these don't come through.

    I can't receive ANY e-mails from my postal provider, www.endicia.com. The Endicia representative told me, "Verizon blocks all of our e-mails. You need to get another e-mail address."

    This is TOTALLY unacceptable!

    I've tried contacting Verizon about this to no avail. They apparently do not have a tech support e-mail. As for phoning them, well good luck! Sitting on hold for over 15 minutes listening to a recording tell you to check their website for help, only to speak with someone who then spends 30 minutes either misunderstanding or arguing with you is not a pleasant experience. And frankly, I don't have time. I end up telling them, repeatedly "No, I don't use a SPAM filter. And I can't get Adobe to change the way they send e-mail!!!" They just keep trying to "pass the buck."

    What it comes down to is they do not acknowledge the problem, or if they do, it is not THEIR problem--it's the company or person sending you the e-mail's problem.

    E-mail is now accepted as evidence in court. There are potentially serious economic and legal ramifications for not receiving e-mail. The problem is not that just *one* or *two* e-mails from these companies are being lost. The problem is ALL of their e-mails are not getting through. And Verizon doesn't seem to care.

    If this situation cannot be remedied, for whatever reason -- their policy being one -- Verizon should be required to notify all their customers that may not be receiving e-mail and why.

    I've filed a complaint to the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org)

    Sending a note to your Congressman can't hurt either... they should be aware of corporate abuses that effect their constituency.

    http://www.house.gov/writerep/

    I recommend ANYONE who has this problem to do the same. Maybe if enough of us do so we can FINALLY get their attention!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Staci Giove, 2 Aug 2005 @ 8:37am

    I have help for businesses!

    I saw your posting regarding Verizon on the net and I wanted to tell you that there is a solution!!! I work with a company who is the Largest wholesaler of 14 different carriers with NO downtime. I have attached some information. We are local ( at Broadway & 35) and assign a rep for each account. You would have personized service for all of your needs, and all on one bill! Please take a look, and hopefully we can get together for a few minutes so we may discuss this further. Have a great day!




    Staci L.Giove
    Account Executive
    1333 Broadway
    New York, NY 10018
    (646) 536-6968
    E-Fax: (631) 815-1334

    http://www.infohighway.com


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tom, 2 Jun 2006 @ 2:57pm

    Verizon loses my emails

    My ex wife called me up to let me know that it's Verizon who has been filtering out emails from our relatives and friends in Europe. If only you knew how many times I have sat on the phone for 45 minutes at a shot, while the Verizon tech in India ("Hello Mr Miko, my name is Bob Smith.") tried to prove that it's my hardware or software that's to blame.
    Now they have disabled the spam blocker where I can report real spam, but I still can't receive emails from my friends and relatives.
    I have to use my Hotmail account if I actually want to receive emails i.e. for important emails.
    Tom in California

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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