Yahoo Blocks Road Runner Customer’s Emails, TWC Tells Him To Call Yahoo Himself

Yahoo is blocking emails sent by Time Warner Cable Road Runner customers who were formerly with Comcast. When consumers complain to Time Warner Cable, the company essentially tells them to call up Yahoo themselves.

Uh, isn’t that what we pay YOU for?

Reader Lee writes:

    “If Time Warner wonders why those of us who were kidnapped in the Comcast takeover are not thrilled, the tech support exchange below might provide a clue or two. Ever since our forced address changeover last month, emails to and from Yahoo.com accounts have been bouncing back. I contacted Road Runner to ask why and to find out what they’re going to do about it. I still don’t know – all I know is that I was right. Small consolation…”

Lee gets stymied by a customer service bot, but if he wants his issue resolved, we advise he turbos and asks for a supervisor. — BEN POPKEN

Transcript, inside…


user lee watters has entered room

analyst Matt L has entered room

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:44:39 PST 2006)>

Hello! Thank you for choosing Time Warner Cable Road Runner technical chat, My name is Matt. Before we begin, I would like to bring up your account. May I have the following three pieces of information from you please?

1. The account holder’s area code and telephone number. (xxx-xxx-xxxx)
2. The account holder’s Full Name. (First and Last)
3. If you are not the account holder, please provide your name

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:45:18 PST 2006)>

(redacted)…Hi… ever since the transition from Comcast, I’ve had trouble emailing to friends and clients with yahoo.com email addresses. The emails bounce back to me. I’ve also problems with emails not getting through to me from yahoo.com. What’s up with that?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:45:58 PST 2006)>

I never had any problems before the changeover

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:46:38 PST 2006)>

What email address are you sending from?

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:46:46 PST 2006)>

That causes the bounce backs.

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:47:07 PST 2006)>

(redacted)

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:47:36 PST 2006)>

I have three other addrwesses that do not have the issue — it’s on with TW

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:47:42 PST 2006)>

only

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:48:35 PST 2006)>

Are you still able to send to any addresses outside of Yahoo?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:49:07 PST 2006)>

yes. it’s only yahoo

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:49:18 PST 2006)>

hotmail is fine, aol is fine, netscape.net is fine

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:49:38 PST 2006)>

Are you sending these emails using the Road Runner webmail?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:50:16 PST 2006)>

no — outlook. I don’t use webmail

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:51:10 PST 2006)>

What is the error message that you get?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:51:34 PST 2006)>

do you use dynamic IP addresses or static? I’m wondering is a chunk of your IP addresses have been blocked…

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:51:44 PST 2006)>

the error message is… (let me find one for you)

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:51:59 PST 2006)>

This Message was undeliverable due to the following reason:

Your message was not delivered because the destination computer was not reachable within the allowed queue period. The amount of time a message is queued before it is returned depends on local configura- tion parameters.

Most likely there is a network problem that prevented delivery, but it is also possible that the computer is turned off, or does not have a mail system running right now.

Your message was not delivered within 4 days and 0 hours.

Host yahoo.com is not responding.

The following recipients did not receive this message:

(redacted)

Please reply to Postmaster@ if you feel this message to be in error.

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:51:59 PST 2006)>

Thank you. And we use Dynamic IP addresses.

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:52:28 PST 2006)>

That’s the message — and it happens with all my Yahho accounts on an intermittent basis

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:52:55 PST 2006)>

Do you have the IP address of any of the people you are trying to send to?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:53:24 PST 2006)>

hmmm… let me look in the headers

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:53:23 PST 2006)>

Great, thank you.

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:54:43 PST 2006)>

this is the inbound header on the error — let me find one that got through:

(redacted)

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:55:58 PST 2006)>

nope…

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:56:26 PST 2006)>

Would you mind waiting one moment while I research this issue for you?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:56:50 PST 2006)>

go ahead…

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:57:31 PST 2006)>

here’s the path for one that got through:

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:59:15 PST 2006)>

(redacted)

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 18:59:10 PST 2006)>

Thank you for holding.

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 15:59:57 PST 2006)>

never midn — that one got through from gmail

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:00:33 PST 2006)>

never mind, I mean

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:00:22 PST 2006)>

The issue that might be happening is that Yahoo is blocking the inbound emails for certain IP ranges within Road Runner.

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:00:26 PST 2006)>

Was this information helpful? Are there any other technical issues with which we may assist you?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:01:06 PST 2006)>

I assumed that was it — what is TW doing about it?

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:01:43 PST 2006)>

Unfortunately we are powerless to what other email providers choose to do. The course of action you would need to take would be to contact Yahoo, and provide them with your IP address to see if they actually are blocking it.

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:02:22 PST 2006)>

You’ve got to be kidding — they’re your IP addresses!

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:02:39 PST 2006)>

I’m not the only customer this is happening to, I’m sure

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:02:56 PST 2006)>

It didn’t happen with Comcast

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:03:47 PST 2006)>

Hello?

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:04:43 PST 2006)>

Would you mind waiting one moment while I research this issue for you?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:05:19 PST 2006)>

sure, why not…

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:08:53 PST 2006)>

Thank you for holding. I was just checking the yahoo website for any information about mail blocks, but was unsuccessful.

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:09:47 PST 2006)>

At this time though, you are able to send emails to everyone else but yahoo, and occasionally emailing to yahoo works, so there is nothing I can do at this point unfortunately.

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:10:10 PST 2006)>

Sounds like someone at Road Runner needs to get on the phone with someone at Yahho to sort this out. Can you please pass that along to someone who can get it done?

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:11:22 PST 2006)>

I will advise my supervisors and see what they can do. Please feel free to email us at customercare@ndc.rr.com and inform them of this problem as well.

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:11:27 PST 2006)>

Was this information helpful? Are there any other technical issues with which we may assist you?

lee watters(Thu Nov 30 16:11:56 PST 2006)>

No, it wasn’t helpful — but thanks anyway.

Matt L(Thu Nov 30 19:11:45 PST 2006)>

If there are no other issues that we may assist you with, please click on the End Session button to end this chat session. A transcript of this chat will be e-mailed to the address provided. Once again thank you for choosing Road Runner!

In an ongoing effort to continue improving our quality of service, we are conducting a customer survey. If you would like to participate, please copy and paste the following link into your browser: http://csat.rr.com/chatsurvey.html

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Bokonon says:

    The survey at http://csat.rr.com/chatsurvey.html doesn’t ask for any customer information, so literally anyone could fill it out. Maybe we should all tell them how much their chat customer support sucks.

  2. acambras says:

    In light of the actual conversation, the last two paragraphs that Matt writes are really funny. It’s like he has a keyboard shortcut for “schlocky canned csr drivel” that he just presses when it’s time to conclude the exchange.

    It’s like when you’re SO PISSED at a company and you do almost everything but issue threats of grievous bodily injury, and then the CSR signs off with “Thank you for choosing ______. Have a nice day.”

  3. andyj76 says:

    Matt is actually a robot, like Eliza. :-)

    a. Hi, my name is Matt, how can I help?
    b. I have a problem with my email.
    a. That’s a shame, what is the problem with your email?

  4. ProfJonathan says:

    Yahoo Mail has a page on blocked messages and a link at least to Customer Care:

    http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/mail/defer/defer-03.html

    Of course, that doesn’t mean the person on the other end of that link will know anything more about the situation or how to resolve it… {Prof. Jonathan}

  5. Mike_ says:

    Comcast is just as useless with stuff like this. They have no system for handling any problem that cannot be fixed by checking your network settings, replacing your modem, or sending a technician to your home.

    Example: My IP address changed 2 weeks ago, and I noticed immediately that the new address has no PTR record. (It’s not important for most things, but for some things, it does matter.) I used Live Chat to inform Comcast of the problem. The technician understood what I was talking about (surprise!), but he had no way to communicate the problem to anyone who could fix it. He said he’d tell his manager. It’s been 2 weeks, but they still haven’t configured DNS for my IP block.

    It sucks to identify a problem and report it, but know that you and anyone you can get ahold of is powerless to do anything about it. There should be a way for this sort of report to be logged, tracked, filtered to someone with the ability to do something about it, updated, and reported back to you when it has been fixed.

    If Road Runner’s mail servers cannot deliver mail to Yahoo, that is a problem between Road Runner and Yahoo. Yahoo won’t be able to help you. Besides, this is the sort of thing you pay Road Runner for.

  6. VentMan says:

    Is there a Consumerist Hall of Shame? Maybe I’ll post one on VentBox. Time Warner Cable would definitely get on it.

  7. guavo says:

    Matt is indeed a human, however probably a convergys trained human. When i worked at convergys doing tech support, email blocking issues were frustrating to say the least, as tech support, we couldn’t do anything, the issue gets handled by actual road runner people who are only reachable by email *Seriously*. So basically we would need to prove 20 different ways that its not software/settings/ip/slushy and then give them an email address to fix it…that was a year ago, so not much has probably changed.

  8. Papercutninja says:

    Net neutrality what?

  9. bluegus32 says:

    Why on Earth can’t I do this at my job? That would be sweet.

    Boss: “Bluegus, you completely f#cked up this project. It reeks of incompetence and now I have to spend 15 hours repairing what you should have done to begin with.”

    Bluegus: “Thank you for choosing Bluegus. I hope my information was useful to you. Is there anything else that I can help you with.”

    Boss: “I haven’t seen my family in two weeks! Our Tokyo customers are threatening to kill me because of what you’ve done!”

    Bluegus: “I will advise my supervisors and see what they can do. Please feel free to email us at customercare@ndc.rr.com and inform them of this problem as well.”

    Boss: “Wait a minute! I’M your supervisor! You work for me!”

    Bluegus: “In an ongoing effort to continue improving my quality of service, I am conducting a customer survey. If you would like to participate, please copy and paste the following link into your browser: http://csat.rr.com/chatsurvey.html

  10. Johnie says:

    I don’t think what the customer service did was wrong. The issue is on Yahoo’s side. They are probably blocking a range of IPs that were previously used to send spam. Or there may be a problem with their spam filter. It is not TWC’s responsibility to work it out with Yahoo.

    Imagine if the counterparty was not Yahoo but JoeSchmo.com. Is it TWC’s responsibility to contact every email provider that is blocking TWC’s IP range email?

  11. clsgis says:

    If you fix cars for a living, you don’t buy your tools at Toys R Us. If Lee Watters needs to do real work with email, he shouldn’t by buying it from a consumer entertainment service like Time Warner.

    The fact is Yahoo’s email servers are grossly overloaded, and refuse most incoming connections most of the time, from everywhere. Ask anybody who runs a substantial email server and they’ll tell you, there are always messages in the queue waiting their turn to trickle into Yahoo’s system. If messages from Road Runner aren’t getting through, Road Runner should keep them in the queue longer before giving up. Poor “Matt L” probably knows that (those Asian outsource help-desk workers are pretty smart) but he’s not allowed to tell.

    His advice to yell at Yahoo was valid but futile. If people only knew, Yahoo wouldn’t just have pickets at their headquarters, they’d have a mob with torches and pitchforks. (Did you ever wonder why Yahoo mailboxes are so popular with those African fraud spammers? They don’t exactly keep up with their abuse complaint queue, either…)

    If you need to do real work over email, you shouldn’t be trying to use an advertising service like Yahoo. There ain’t no free lunch. When you use Yahoo or Road Runner, you’re the *product*, not the customer. The customer is the guy who bought all those banner ads.

    Professional quality email service doesn’t cost that much. Just don’t buy it from the same company you’re buying price-war residential Internet access from. You have *lots* of choices. Pick a small, independent Internet company who doesn’t outsource their email operation. Get a web hosting account someplace good and just use the email service that comes with it. Get the “premium” account at Mail.com a/k/a Outblaze. Try an independent like Explosive.net. Park a domain at GKG.net or even Godaddy and add a hosted mailbox. (That way you get to pick the domain name.) Put in a home Linux box and run *your own* mailbox service.

    Just ask around first and make sure the company you choose isn’t spammer-friendly. There are spammer hosting companies around who take on a few legitimate customers to use as “human shields.” The deal looks real good until you find out half the world blocks your mail. Google for “ISP’s name, spam”. Look ‘em up at Spamhaus.org. Ask in a newsgroup like news.admin.net-abuse.email.

    Keep that cheap, fast Internet connection you get from your cable TV or phone company, but just pretend it doesn’t come with email at all. If you’re trying to do real work, it doesn’t.

  12. Mike_ says:

    We’re not talking about JoeSchmoe.com here. We’re talking about one of the most popular email providers in the world. It absolutely is Time Warner’s responsibility to contact Yahoo and resolve the problem.

    (1) The customer has no authority over or responsibility for the IP block that is unable to reach Yahoo; (2) The customer does not have the ability to diagnose or correct anything relating to this problem; (3) The customer is undoubtedly one of many who are having this problem; (4) Yahoo won’t listen to just any anonymous Internet user, but when Time Warner calls, you can bet someone will answer; (5) Users generally lack the technical knowledge required to properly report this sort of problem to a third party; (6) That’s what he’s paying Time Warner for.

    And even if this is an issue of not being able to send email to JoeSchmoe.com, ensuring proper delivery of email is one of those responsibilities that comes along with running a mail server. If Time Warner’s server is not able to deliver your mail, it’s their job to figure out why and do everything they can to make it right. (Again, that’s what you pay them for.)

  13. dantsea says:

    I don’t see where Time Warner’s server is having a problem delivering the email. They’re handing it off to Yahoo, and Yahoo doesn’t want to accept it. Problem’s on Yahoo’s end.

  14. kusine says:

    I suddenly can’t get a forwarded message from my husband on rr.com to my yahoo email (other email addresses work just fine, so it’s not him). We’ve been long time Time Warner customers, so it may be a bigger issue than just former Comcast customers. I’ve emailed yahoo, so we’ll see how that turns out.

  15. Mike_ says:

    It wasn’t refused. It timed out. It could be a network problem on Time Warner’s end. In any case, once you hand off a properly-addressed message to their mail server, it’s Time Warner’s job to make sure it gets where it’s going.

    The sender’s only relationship with Yahoo is that he is trying to have a message delivered there through Time Warner. If anyone should be contacting Yahoo’s postmaster, it’s the person who is unable to receive mail from Time Warner. (Yahoo will probably tell him to have the sender contact his ISP.)

    Third, any attempts at getting help from Yahoo will be futile. Even more futile than trying to get help from Time Warner (the company he pays to handle his email). I’m pretty sure he’ll never get a response from Yahoo Support. I never have.

    And finally, use the “little old lady” test. What if Grandma calls Time Warner because her email to her grandson keeps getting returned as “undelivered”? Her computer skills are limited to typing the message and hitting the “send” button. Do you really think she should be told she needs to figure out how to contact Yahoo and explain the problem she doesn’t really understand?

  16. dantsea says:

    Perhaps I should reveal my hand: I do contract work for a non-USA broadband provider; we serve a slightly larger customer base than RR. I don’t work directly with customers, but I do work with service issues. Sorry if that’s a bit murky but I’m not inclined to trumpet it much more loudly.

    Email issues are the second most popular reason for customers to call us for assistance (connectivity number one, of course). The problem as described by the customer is a common one, you could drop Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Earthlink and so on into the spot where Yahoo is mentioned.

    We keep a close watch on our mail servers and we know fairly quickly if there’s a widespread issue. We do check our own services to ensure we haven’t done anything wrong; at least 90 percent of the time it’s something on the foreign network that we can’t fix. We do call the big providers like Yahoo to let them know of the problem (the typical response, if we can actually get something beyond voicemail, is “ok, thanks, bye.”), and that’s generally all we can do while the users rage at the call center about it.

    I don’t know if RR does the same, but I would be surprised if they haven’t.

    Now, I’d like to address a few details with the interaction between the customer and the agent.

    The customer has invested in a super-sized version of post hoc ergo propter hoc: This network issue never happened before, but since it happened after RR took over, it must be a result of the conversion! There’s also the center-of-the-universe fallacy (which I’ll concede that customers are slightly entitled to) of “If it’s happening to me, it must be happening to everyone!”

    Unfortunately, the agent seems to have piss-poor general technical knowledge and decided that he’d rather concentrate on clearing out the live chat queue by just agreeing with the customer than doing any valid troubleshooting (“Hey, the customer said IP blocking, so let’s go with that!). All this did was inflame the customer to the point where he sent off that transcript to Consumerist. This is obviously not good customer service.

    Regardless of his crappy customer service skills, he did deliver some honesty to the customer: There’s not much of anything that RR/TWC can do about it. Sometimes customers just have to accept that they — and their provider — can’t do a damn thing about a problem on a network or server they neither own or operate and yes, frustrating as it may be (especially for poor Granny), sometimes a thousand phone calls from angry users can motivate that third party more than a single phone call from us, so calling Yahoo is a valid solution, however unpopular it may be with the customer.

  17. lyingwithstats says:

    Sending a email is the responsibility of your ISP, in this case, Time Warner. Their job is to ensure your email makes it out of the tw system and into the web itself.

    Your ISP cannot “force” another provider to accept it. If Time Warner has a technical problem, or something they can resonably control ( such as Yahoo sent them a message stating they needed to shut down a RoadRunner IP that was boradcasting spam….) THEN TW can control that. Otherwise, yes…it would be up to you as the consumer to contact and deal with the party on the other end to find out the problem and ask them to correct it.

    You can send a certified letter thru the USPS and ask them to have someone sign for it…but you cannot force the person on the other end to accept it.

  18. smac972 says:

    I asked asked someone to send a registered letter. That’s what I asked them to do.

    And when they tried to deliver it, I got a message saying that they weren’t accepting it.

    Not only was my message sent, but I got a reason back from the people I was sending it to why. They asked RR to send the message and RR got it to Yahoo. Yahoo said no.

    Roadrunner does keep track of widespread problems. Had 500 other people kept calling in with the same problem, there would have been a team on it.

    Here, it was a problem between the customer and Yahoo. (My guess, they were on a spam list, but it’s never the customer’s fault….)

    As much as we can belittle the agent for only doing his/her job the way they’re supposed to…(You think we like the canned blabla), agents get indignant when consumers expect us to be their on call assistants.

    Are you having a problem with Yahoo? Then YOU contact Yahoo. I’m not going to contact your porn site administrators because you can’t log in. I’m not going to monitor your auction on E-Bay.

    I’m here to make sure RR mail is working and your internet connection is solid, which in this case, it sure seemed to be.

    It’s like complaining to your cable TV provider that you don’t like the programming on FOX. Nut no, hundred will spend half an hour arguing why it should be my job to do everyhthing but my job, leaving the rest of us to complain about hold times.