Freeserve/Wanadoo/Orange email servers blacklisted in spam databases

Feb ’07 Update: I’ve posted details of a way around this without changing email address. It’s a little fiddly, but should work…

I’ve been trying to trace a problem with emails not reaching one of my clients. Emails from the same sender would sometimes get through fine, but often bounce back after a few days. I eventually managed to get a look at one of the bounced emails, which was very helpful.

It turns out that Freeserve have managed to get some of their email servers blacklisted in spam databases. Any ISPs that operate even basic spam filtering check all incoming email against the SpamCop or SORBS databases, to see whether the originating server is registered as a spammer. If so, the email is rejected and a few days later the sender will receive an undelivered mail report.

Fyi, Freeserve = Wanadoo = Orange, but I’m going to use Freeserve because I keep mistyping ‘wanadoo’…

I did a little digging around, and unsurprisingly many people are having problems with this. It’s flared up in recent days, but there are reports of problems with the servers – I looked up – as far back as January of this year. This isn’t the fault of the spam databases, nor is it difficult to get yourself removed from them. Freeserve seem to be entirely to blame.

This is a particularly annoying problem, as it must affect anybody with a Freeserve / Wanadoo / Orange account. It’s unreasonable to ask every ISP/email host in the world to make an exception / disable their spam filters because of this, although that’s what I’ve had to do in my client’s case.

According to the SpamCop information page, the Freeserve servers are commiting the cardinal sin of bouncing back external emails, which afaik is quite an easy thing to fix! Freeserve presumably have a number of email servers of which only some are blacklisted, explaining why emails sometimes get through and sometimes don’t. There doesn’t seem to be any way of specifying which server you want to use, however.

I always used to like Freeserve, but given the long-running nature and severity of this problem, I can only recommend that nobody create a new Freeserve/Wanadoo/Orange account, and anybody on their system move to a different ISP.