How reliable is your email?
Well, you might answer, I’m reading this, am I not?
Indeed you are, but that doesn’t mean you get to read every email that’s sent to you.
Email providers use spam filters, to protect you from the mass of filth that’s pumped out by unscrupulous senders.
I get hundreds of spam emails each day, spread across the four email accounts I use for my work and personal bits and pieces, along with automated spam comments on our many websites. So I count myself as a bit of an expert!
And while I’m grateful to Gmail, which provides the email for our two companies, and my personal email account, they don’t always get it right…
At least twice a day I check Gmail’s Spam folders for each email account (elsewhere known as the ‘Junk’ folder), which quite often contain genuine, wanted emails – from club members, from clients, from trusted suppliers.
Unfortunately anyone’s email can, potentially, fall foul of the spam filters.
Worse, though, is when the email provider filters out ALL email from a particular source before it gets anywhere near your email inbox or Spam/Junk folder.
Which means that even if you go looking for a particular email you were expecting, you won’t find it.
Gmail, mostly, is good in this respect, but some of the older email providers, which many club members (being older themselves) might be relying on, use less sophisticated spam filters, or subcontract the job of checking incoming email to others, and that can cause issues.
In the past we’ve had particular problems with Australian email providers (Bigpond, now Telestra, I’m talking about you), whereas yesterday it was the British Tiscali/TalkTalk which appeared to have taken a dislike to our shop’s eagerly awaited emails.
And it’s not just us that can’t get our emails into your inbox (or even your Spam/Junk folder) reliably – see this article in one of the world’s top English-language newspaper sites and you’ll read that even large companies, with many I.T. professionals working for them (we have none), can have the same issue!
But, you remind me, I’m reading this, so no problem, right?
Well… for instance there’s our EasyItalianNews.com site, which people have to opt-into, in order to receive free bulletins from (just like with the club). Unfortunately, it happens fairly often that frustrated learners of Italian write to tell me that the ‘please confirm’ email never arrived.
“Check your Spam/Junk folder”, I reply, and oftentimes, there it is! But not always.
In which case?
The only option, I explain, is to try with a different email address, so not Tiscali, not Bigpond, not whatever email account you’ve had since the ‘nineties that’s filtering out something you actually want to see before it gets to you.
“Try Gmail”, I advise, and sometimes they do, and this time it works just fine.
But I’m reading this, you still protest!
Right then, these club emails are sent by a company called AWeber, which specialises in bulk email and has a team who, when things don’t work as they should, will identify that emails from their trusted clients (us) are being rejected ‘en masse’ by a particular email provider’s servers.
They will then, perhaps, contact the stressed out I.T. person at the email provider, and tell them sweetly that their algorithim is having a bad day and would they please bang the top of the email server until normal service is resumed.
This mailing service costs us $150 a month, every month, for what is a free website, remember. You do the maths.
When we send bulk email to other lists, for example to people who downloaded a free ebook, we do it through a different company, based in Australia, ironically. That one manages to get our stuff through to customers and potential customers most of the time (perhaps they’re drinking buddies with the I.T. people who work for the unreliable Australian email providers, I wouldn’t know.)
For which the Aussies bill us around $250 a month, also every month. We’re up to nearly five thousand US dollars a year, now, plus British VAT at 20%…
The EasyItalianNews.com emails are sent by yet another respected company, this one called Automattic, which provides the free software with which all our websites are constructed (WordPress), and associated free services. Unfortunately, being free, when something goes wrong, there’s a limit to how much they’ll do to help. Zero, in fact.
And then there are the various Gmails used by our staff and shop software, each one also having a smalll monthly cost.
And not to mention our payment processors – Paypal, Amazon, Stripe, all of which have their own email servers (which are very professionally run, I would add). If you buy something, or donate to EasyItalianNews.com, you’ll be emailed a receipt by the payment processor you selected.
It’s not unusual, though, that someone might make a payment, get a receipt from say Amazon, yet not get (or get but not see) the ‘order confirmation’ and ‘order completed’ emails sent at the same time by our shop. Which is frustrating, for the customer and for us.
So you see, you might be getting this article, but never have managed to subscribe to EasyItalianNews.com, even though you tried, while still getting the ugly emails we send during sales and ebook promotions and receipts from the big boy payment processors with their highly-paid I.T. engineers.
Different mail servers, run by different companies, in different locations, will be treated differently by your email provider.
If, say, one of our sending companies’ servers has recently been abused by another client (I immagine this happens often), then it’s possible that all emails sent by the same server will be blocked. See?
OK then, given that I deal with this stuff on a daily basis, unfortunately, here are the top reasons why you might not see an email you were expecting, ALMOST NONE OF WHICH are the sender’s fault, please note:
1. It went to your Spam/Junk folder and you didn’t check, but if you do, you’ll see it.
2. It went to your Spam/Junk folder and you did check, but didn’t see it because you are using an APPLE DEVICE (iPhone, iPad), some of which have a default setting in the email app that loads incoming emails but doesn’t load, or filters out, suspected spam. Solution? Check your email on a real computer, if you have one. And blame Steve Jobs for the wasted time, rather than me.
3. Pilot error (the pilot being you) – you received the email you were expecting in your inbox, but didn’t read it, read it hastily and didn’t notice that it contained a download link, or perhaps you deleted it, thinking it wasn’t important? Surely not…
4. Pilot error again – you typed the wrong email address in your order form, or when signing up for EasyItalianNews.com. Ooops, people say when I point out that email@example.com should actually have been firstname.lastname@example.orgM, though they rarely consider the time it took me to deal with the half dozen emails needed before we pinned that down as the cause.
5. Sometimes, not very often, things just break. It could be at our end, but when that happens, I get lots of emails with the same issue, all in a short time, so it’s easy to identify and resolve. It could be at one of the companies that sends email for us, who have support teams who I can hassle until they put things right. And most likely, it could be with your email provider – given that email is usually a free service (for you, not for me), it may be done on the cheap. The brightest minds, the most diligent technicians, and most of the money, are to be found elsewhere. When did you last hear a nerd boasting that they run the spam filter at your local email provider? I rest my case.
As I pointed out to someone yesterday, you MAY NOT KNOW YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, as was the situation last week with the guy who bought lessons but never heard from us (we wrote to him from 5 different Gmails and he didn’t see any of them…)
Start by making checking your Spam/Junk folder a regular thing. As I say, I do it every day. If you find ANYTHING there that you might have wanted to see in your email inbox rather than Spam/Junk, well now you’ll have the first inkling of what you might be missing, or have missed in the past.
If there’s nothing in Spam/Junk, check your iPhone/iPad settings. Try sending yourself emails from another device with spam terms in them (use your imagination) and see if they show up. If not, why not??
And finally, ask yourself whether it’s not about time you got yourself a decent email account…
It never does any harm to have a backup, right? Maybe you could use the new one for ‘Italian’ and keep the old one for your crazy aunt who emails only at Christmas.
Once you have TWO email accounts, you might, for instance, sign up to EasyItalianNews.com using both your old email and your new Gmail (or similar) and compare the results.
The ‘Please confirm’ email turned up in Gmail but not in Crappymail?
There you have it.
You had a problem, now know what was causing it, and have a solution.
And here’s a final reminder about the -25% offer on our new ‘easy reader’ ebook, ‘Per un pugno di dollari‘, which ends on Sunday night.
If you had been meaning to get yourself a copy, first please check out the FREE sample chapter (.pdf) to verify that the material is at an appropriate level for you, and that it will work on the device you want to use it on.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at B1/B2 level and above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally immediately after your payment is processed), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook (.mobi/Kindle-compatible, .epub) cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them.