Anyone using SBC as their ISP or to host their domain would be wise to keep an eye on their email. On July 4th, SBC implemented an ISP based spam filtering. I had been scratching my head wondering the last few days why I suddenly wasn't getting some regular email newsletters (about 8!). After a few days of back and forth and testing, I called SBC and discovered that they had implemented this new spam filter "feature" WITHOUT NOTIFYING ANYONE. Similarly, just this past June, they suddenly implemented rDNS checking on incoming email without notification, which led to a lot of people not getting their mail and a number of newspaper stories. Finally, they were forced to remove this new "functionality" a few weeks later.
With this spam filtering, they claim to be still "tweaking" the filters. What I can't understand is why they are doing their "tweaking" with live user mail in real time. I tried to send them a copy of a good mail that they should not be rejecting but I couldn't even get it to tech support. It got rejected at the email server! So how do they "tweak" filters without user feedback on what is or is not spam?
SBC does not present a notification to the user than any mail was blocked as spam. There are no user controls in their software, no way to opt-out, no way to exclude an account, no "spam bucket" to retrieve rejected mail from! All they do is a simple bounce-back to whomever sent the mail with this "illuminating" error:
SMTP error from remote mailer after end of data:
host mail-fwd.mx.sbc-webhosting.com [126.96.36.199]:
Pretty damm useless, right? Most distributors who get a message like this just delete the user. They aren't going to run around and try and notify people that mail to them got rejected. So it may be weeks or months before a user realizes that he hasn't gotten some newsletter he subscribed to. Then he has to try and chase down what is going on. Fortunately for me, I use a mail forwarding service for all my newsletters and subscriptions, so I was able to change the forward-to address from my pop3 address on SBC to a webmail account. However, I can't easily save those newsletters in the folders I have set up in my pop3 Outlook mailbox.
I requested that SBC turn off their spam filtering UNTIL they have a user interface in place to allow people to "opt-out" of this feature or to control it better. They flat-out told me that is not going to happen. I finally got a supervisor to tell me that they expected to have some sort of user interface in 2-3 weeks (MAYBE). So I called the PUC in California today. They told me they couldn't do anything but forwarded me to SBC Executive Complaints office, where I was told that they have been getting other complaints on this also. I filed a formal complaint with them. The Executive Office telephone number is: 800.403.3302
Just like the U.S. Post Office, I believe than an ISP has a contractual requirement to deliver all mail addressed to the user, UNLESS the user has explicitly given his permission to the ISP to pre-screen his mail for spam. IMO, it is the users responsibility to protect themselves from spam mail, not the ISP's. Wonder if some lawyer is interested in starting a class-action suit against SBC on this issue?