More network changes disrupt Xtra email users

Local email senders will have to adapt some of their emailing behaviours, says Xtra

Still more changes to YahooXtra’s email are irritating users and forcing them to adjust their settings — this time confirming each individual email address used.

A South Island IT company director, who wished to stay anonymous, sent an email to Computerworld saying that a YahooXtra mail update “now has made it even more difficult for customers to send email”.

According to Xtra’s website, starting from March 18, customers who use an email address with Xtra mail settings other than @xtra.co.nz, for example user@business.co.nz, will need to add this email address to their YahooXtra mail account, using the “add account” tool in YahooXtra webmail in order to continue to send emails.

To do this users need to log in to YahooXtra webmail and “add the email that is not @xtra.co.nz, and verify that they have authorised use of this email address with your email account,” says the website. “This update will help customers guard against having their email address used by unauthorised parties.”

”Basically it means — and I have had this confirmed from Xtra tech support — that if a business has a domain name that has not been registered by Xtra, and they use the domain name for sending email, they will have to register every single email address they have on their domain with Yahoo,” says the director.

He points out that most businesses will have a number of addresses within their organisation.

“Not to mention every time an employee joins or leaves the business — the time to add and remove email addresses is significant,” he says.

“I can feel lawsuits coming from disrupted businesses,” he says.

Updates to the spam filters are done with the intention of giving customers better protection, says Xtra spokeswoman Katherine Murphy. In this case it is to protect customers from unauthorised use of their email address.

“But no other ISP feels the need to do this,” says the IT company director.

Auckland-based IT consultant and Xtra customer Stephen Goodman told Computerworld that issues reported last week of email being classified as spam go back a lot further than February.

“From the moment Xtra changed over to the dreaded ‘bubble’, this problem has existed,” he says.

After numerous calls to the helpdesk, the only solution appears to be to log on to the webmail account at regular intervals and trawl through the loads of spam to find the genuine email Xtra has classified as spam, he says.

“What irritates customers most is the arrogance of Telecom and Xtra,” he says. “There is no way to bypass this filter or in any way get rid of the issues,” he says. “Many Xtra customers, myself included, are coming to the end of our tolerance for this type of approach and are seriously looking at alternatives that really do value their customers.”

A number of other readers have contacted Computerworld following last week’s story.

Legitimate email from tech support company Graphic Dimensions in Wellington to xtra.co.nz addresses were classified as spam, resulting in important email that appeared to go missing.

IT support and services company Access Information in Wairarapa is experiencing the same problem. A number of Access Information’s clients are having legitimate email classified as spam, causing dismay, says company director Tony Arcus.

Any email sent to any xtra.co.nz address is automatically put in the spam folder, he says. Arcus has around 50 domain names that could be affected. Arcus has been in contact with Xtra for 12 weeks, trying to find a solution to the problem.

Having started his journey at Xtra’s Philippines callcentre, Arcus is now talking to Xtra’s Auckland critical faults department, which is being as helpful as it can, he says.

“The sad reality is that Xtra has no control over its email,” says Arcus.

Some sort of pressure has to be put on Xtra to take responsibility for the services they offer but don’t control, he adds.

Xtra asked Arcus to fill out forms and email these to Yahoo, but the forms keep coming back from Yahoo, over and over again, asking the same questions Arcus has already answered, he says.

“I keep having to explain I’m not a bulk email sender,” he says.

Murphy says that, previously, local email had a much softer filtering process, mainly because most spam comes from overseas. YahooXtra is now applying international standard spam filtering processes to ensure the ISP is in the best position to protect customers, she says.

“This does mean that New Zealand email senders are going to have to adapt some of their emailing behaviours, which in the long run will benefit themselves and other senders of legitimate emails.”

Murphy acknowledges that legitimate email being marked as spam was one of the most significant changes customers experienced when Xtra first introduced the Yahoo spam filters.

“However, as customers have learned to use their spam filters, overall we have seen both a decline in the number of emails incorrectly marked as spam, and a decrease in the number of spam messages delivered into customers’ inboxes.”

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