Tom Mulvaney writes:
For about a month now, I have not be able to open the weekly email version of The E-Sylum, which is sent on Sunday nights. I get a message stating "Delivery Error, Try again later". "Later" never comes and I just can't get it open...
Perhaps there is a problem with AOL. I would like you to try sending it to an alternate email address I have.
No perhaps about it. Tom is only the latest AOL E-Sylum subscriber to report having problems. Some, like Charlie Davis, have been seeing the problem for months. This problem is specific to AOL. While it is true that AOL subscribers having trouble with The E-Sylum often have no problems receiving other newsletters, it is also true that these E-Sylum problems are ONLY seen by AOL subscribers. We've been investigating this on our end to no avail for weeks. Howard Daniel put us in touch with the editor of a much larger newsletter that's seeing similar problems.
Howard Daniel writes:
I read about your troubles with AOL. You are not the only one having this problem. If you contact James Tichacek, he can fill you in on his problems with AOL when sending out his veteran's newsletter all over the world.
I can tell you now the only solution is for the people with AOL addresses to get another one (such as Yahoo or Hotmail) to receive your missive.
So I contacted him, asking if he had been able to speak with anyone at AOL to investigate the problem.
Lt. James "EMO" Tichacek, USN (Ret), Editor/Publisher of the RAO Bulletin writes:
Their system is set up to discourage anyone from talking to them on the issue. I fought AOL for over five years and finally gave up.
They received an industry award about seven years ago for being the best server on eliminating spam from their customerís mailboxes. Shortly thereafter my problems with them began. They apparently did not want to lose this title so they set their spam filters to be extremely restrictive on what they will allow to pass them. As a result about 3-4 times a year I would have a large number (thousands) of their users having their Bulletin blocked.
After much attempted communication each time from hundreds of their users to AOL complaining about the blockage the problem would go away in about six weeks only to reappear a few months later when something else triggered the blockage.
The amazing thing is that over the years with over a thousand complaints from their users they never once acknowledged to any customer that there was a problem. The last time they did this (about four months ago) I decided to no longer service their users and after advising them of my intentions deleted about 9,000 of them from my directory. That made a total of over 19,000 I had deleted in the last five years.
AOL does not seem to care about satisfying their customers' needs. They are so large that the few they lose over the issue does not seem to justify them making a change on their spam policy. Recently I sent a few test messages and found that once again they allowed the Bulletin through. However, I will not reinstate any AOL user as it is just too much trouble.
Formerly, I was spending so much time communicating with their users about the problem and possible ways to get around it that it started impacting on the time I had available to write and put out the Bulletin. Since I dropped them I saved over 20 hours a week and now can devote the majority of my time on doing the Bulletin.
About 400 of the ones I dropped changed servers and are very happy with their move. I received over 50 emails from other editors like you who had given up also and had stopped sending to their users. Bottom line AOL is just too difficult to deal with and they will not communicate or work with you regarding any long term solution to this issue.
Given the draconian AOL policies, and the experiences of other email newsletter publishers, I see little hope in solving this problem. Like them, they only solution I have ever seen work is for AOL subscribers to take their subscription elsewhere. Not a single reader who left AOL has complained to me.
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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