Mail problems

Apart from malware, setting up mail still seems to cause most problems I see, and I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me that BT call centres don’t seem able to help with even simple mail problems. Some people have even told me that they found my BT help pages after having been told about it by BT, which is a compliment of sorts from BT, I suppose.

I notice that VirginMedia are now doing outbound validation in a similar way to BT — if you are not using a VirginMedia e-mail address to send from, you have to register the address you want to use with VirginMedia. They have managed to do this in an even more annoying way than BT, though, in that rather than just permit a validated sender to use their SMTP servers, they add a SENDER: header to each outgoing mail item. This means that recipients using most versions of Outlook with see it as from the virginmedia address “on behalf of” the validated address. Not many people like this, but — other than not using VirginMedia’s SMTP servers — there is no way round it that I know of.  For me, it would be a reason not to use VirginMedia.

Talking of reasons not to use certain ISPs, BT Business Broadband (which provides e-mail address) refuses to allow individual non-BT addresses to pass through its SMTP servers. This means that their customers who want to carry on using an old e-mail address from another ISP aren’t able to do so. BT Business Broadband won’t tell me why they have this policy (they cite only “security concerns” which they won’t or can’t explain) or why BT Broadband ( allows it and BT Business Broadband ( doesn’t. I suspect whoever made this decision doesn’t understand the issues. I’ve noticed this before in companies with “product managers” who often seem to be marketing people who don’t really understand the technology. I suppose BT would say it’s better to have product managers who are marketing people who don’t fully understand the product than it is to have product managers who are technical people who don’t fully understand marketing.

Personally, I’d be happier with a bit less marketing from BT, and a bit more product knowledge in its product managers and call centres. I still find their engineering staff are almost always absolutely excellent, though, although they tend to hide away from customers, maybe understandably!