Friends in high places?

If you're looking for something ranty to read today, head over to Slashdot, where Bennett Haselton goes off at length about how his messages got spamblocked by Yahoo and Hotmail due to something related to bad/blacklisted domains in the body of his email messages.

I can understand his frustration. I know it's not always easy or fun to deal with a blacklisting issue. But I did want to call out one piece of pure balogna: That ESPs somehow have backchannel agreements with ISPs or have "friends" at those ISPs who help to get the mail delivered.

In response to "what are you paying for when using an ESP," he writes, "What you're paying for is the fact that [ESPs] have friends in the right places at Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail, so if your mails are getting blocked, they know the people to call to fix the problem."

Sorry, but that's just flat out not true. When you're sending through an ESP and you get blocked at an ISP and you're working with your ESP, the ESP doesn't have a hotline to call, an individual to reach out to, to get you personalized service. That just doesn't scale at all for the ISP or webmail provider. Most of the ISPs have web forms you submit, then eventually, somebody will get back to you. And sometimes that reply comes from a tier 1 support rep who didn't understand your issue. It's a slow and frustrating process. What ESP people really do is try to train their clients to not get blocked in the first time, because prevention has a much greater chance of success versus cure.

So, whatever you do, don't utilize an ESP based on the strength of Bennett's statement, because it's just plain wrong.
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