-- Voidafone --

A while ago our emails started to bounce. Or, rather, we started getting messages saying our email was being delayed by a company called UCMMAIL. After five or six delay messages, there would be one final message saying that our email had been fatally blocked. No link to contact them; no contact details on their website.

Vodafone, our ISP, denied all knowledge of anybody called UCMMAIL. They were adamant that they were NOT blocking our email. We use Vodafone’s smtp server to send, but they checked stuff and said it was all hunky dory. Or, rather, the problem must reside with our domain name host (Web-Mania, who are based in the UK).

Unfortunately it wasn’t that simple…

Web-Mania (who have served us well for 4 years now) put the blame back on Vodafone. They did so with equal certaintly and vehemence. Rightho. Ummm… In the meantime the problem continued. We had now received literally hundreds of obscure ‘error’ messages, and were unable to send anything out to network members. So where did that leave us?

A company we did not know was blocking our emails, without providing a rationale or explanation. Futhermore, they were not responding to the messages we addressed to postmaster. Nor did they offer any other avenue for us to contact them or otherwise address the problem. (Whatever the problem was!). Effectively, the network had been cast into net limbo. Well, a dingy email cul-de-sac at least.

So we went back to Vodafone’s helpdesk. Again, they insisted it wasn’t their fault. Finally a contact who works in the routing industry offered some advice (eternal thanks Gazza!). He suggested we do a ‘ping’ on smtp2.vodafone.net.nz. Then a ‘whois’ on the resulting IP number. Then a ‘whois’ on UCMMAIL.

Bingo! Both are owned by a company called J2 Global.

So we spoke to Vodafone again. It seems that they had outsourced their outgoing email service to a 3rd party company without bothering to keep their helpdesk staff in the loop. One staff member told me that this had been done six years ago. And by pure coincidence (yeah, right!) we received a message from a company called ‘electric.net’ soon afterwards. They assured us that the network’s emails were no longer being blocked.

Huh? electric.net? It seems that UCMMAIL has outsourced the job one step further. Without telling the company who provided the service. No wonder the HelpDesk couldn’t help! They were just distant cousins in a foreign land.

It all gets rather vague and hard to fathom. Someone sold us a service. But they had bought the provision of that service. And the people they bought it from had sold it. Come to think of it, WE had become the commodity. It was the clients’ future spending (as projected income) that was being traded.

Like some peasant farmer in the third world, all we could do was hope that someone somewhere might remember that this is about PEOPLE (Net users, service providers) and THINGS (email services, monthly fees). All this arse about who-was-doing-what-and-to-whom didn’t stop any %$#@*&#* emails being bounced.

Anyway, one chill pill later, and armed with the necessary information, we were able to tell the HelpDesk who was now providing the service their employer sold. Voidafone was then able to fix the problem. We can now send emails again. By way of recompense, they have promised to train their staff better. Big sigh. I kid you not – they blamed their HelpDesk workers.

Anyway, I’m sure things will come right in time. Mustn’t grumble. After all, they must be very busy people. What, with all the outsourcing negotiations and the rebranding exercises and all.

We’ll keep you informed.   😉