I have hosted my web sites via GoDaddy for years, but today I encountered a huge pile of stupid that is hard to comprehend. If they don’t figure out how to do business better, they are doomed.
Allow me to explain.
A month ago, I began to notice that I was unable to reply to emails I received from someone working at the State of Vermont. The bounce messages were cryptic, like this:
[Return Code 554] sid: JF101m0020SuWv401 :: 5.7.1 You are not allowed to connect.
The message did not indicate its origin nor its meaning, which really infuriated me: what good is an error message when it provides no information about its source, or its meaning? There are morons afoot!
After a while I called up GoDaddy, since I send all of my emails out via their email server, and asked them to look at the message headers. They sent it to an internal expert, who said that the message was coming from the State of Vermont.
I contacted the State of Vermont, and they pointed out that the email server that I was using was on a blacklist; that is, that server was suspected of emitting spam and the like. They were refusing to accept the email messages because they were coming from a suspect source. They supplied the IP address of the server, and showed me this blacklisting:
I found out that this IP address is owned by GoDaddy. Interesting that when I contacted them previously, they did not mention that the reason that my emails were bouncing was because of problems with their own servers. Some experts!
I called them again. I showed them that their email server had been blacklisted. What ensued was quite amazing.
They first asked me whether I might be sending my emails out over a WiFI connection. I responded by pointing out that their email server was blacklisted, and I did not see how using WiFi would change that.
They then pointed out that I had added an SPF record to my DNS, and that maybe it needed to be “fixed”. I pointed out that 1) they had inserted the SPF record, and B) their email server was blacklisted.
They consulted with experts a few times, but after an hour still did not seem to understand that their email server was blacklisted. And this is where it gets good!
I asked to speak with a supervisor; I ended up speaking with Justin. He pointed out that their email servers were not blacklisted with the companies which they used to filter their email. I pointed out that it did not matter whether GoDaddy was blacklisted with the companies that Godaddy used to filter their emails: what mattered was that GoDaddy’s email servers were blacklisted by the companies that the State of Vermont was using. His point was meaningless and useless.
I offered to put Justin in touch with the technical contacts that I had established at the State of Vermont. Justin said that he “could not” call the contact. I said that I was not asking him to call anyone: I was offering to put him in touch by email. He said that it was GoDaddy policy that he could only contact people who were GoDaddy customers. His only [moderately] constructive suggestion was that he would tell me a question to ask the State of Vermont’s IT department; then I could ask the question; and then I could send the response back to GoDaddy. I guess they are willing to read messages from the State of Vermont; they are just not willing to contact them directly. It is like a game we used to play back when I was six, I think.
I pointed out that the situation would be resolved more quickly, and more reliably, if i were not inserted in the middle of this conversation. I also pointed out that he was wasting a lot of my time. He seemed unsympathetic. I asked to speak with his supervisor: I was told that he was the top of the line, and that he did not report to anyone else at GoDaddy.
So. What do we have here?
Anyone who operates an email server runs the risk of being blacklisted if one of their users performs an undesirable action (intentionally or unintentionally). GoDaddy, as a very popular company, sends huge numbers of emails out via their email servers. So, it is not surprising that from time to time their email servers might be blacklisted. Given that this is true, you would think that they would already have a system in place to automatically detect when they became blacklisted, and eliminate the blacklistings so quickly and silently that their customers were never even aware of the problem.
It is frustrating that they provided error messages that are so vague that neither I nor their technical experts were able to figure out what they meant. Again, what is the point of emitting an error message that does not state its origin, does not clearly explain what the problem is, and does not offer a solution?
What is simply astonishing is that they apparently have no efficient way to detect the blacklisting nor to remove themselves from the blacklists. They should have a team of people who are eager to identify the blacklist problems and fix them, since those problems are certain to occur repeatedly. Their refusal to communicate with a third party, who could have offered detailed information about the problem, just demonstrates how inefficient their policies are.
Perhaps GoDaddy’s policies were implemented for a good reason, but they certainly seem to have unintended negative consequences.
I can tell you that I will not be renewing my web sites with GoDaddy. The rest may be as bad, or worse, but this level of … stupidity … is something that I do not want to support with my money.