Case #: 108688087, The Evil AOL

A problem has cropped up with moving my email server in-house (literally) as I mentioned last time. No, my email server is working great and my configs are impeccable. The problem is with the evil postmaster at Although we no longer have any problem getting our mail server to send mail to people it seems that the evil powers that be at aol don’t want anyone at AOL to get email from us. I never noticed the problem as I don’t typically communicate with people that use such an inferior service and pay such inflated rates, unfortuantely my Mom has a bunch of friends that haven’t yet discovered the joy of brodband or the locally-owned (and less expensive) alternatives.

After digging around for some time I discovered that AOL has decided to block all incoming email from servers that do not have static IP (business class) addresses. While this effort may seem prudent to block spammers sending massive quantities of spam through home email servers, in fact more spam gets through to AOL users than almost any other service and my legitimate email does not. I was able to track down a phone number for sysadmins with problems sending mail to AOL (imagine having a phone number for just that problem) of course it was long distance and not an 800 number. After getting a postmaster from AOL on the line I was asked (interregated) as to why I needed to run a server from home, I explained that my ISP provided unreliable mail services, they proceeded to tell me that I needed to upgrade my broadband to business class service (more than twice what I pay now per month) or I needed to relay my mail (hmm interesting they suggest doing the same thing spammers do to hind where the mail really comes from) I found both solutions totally unacceptable.

I proceeded to call their standard customer support 800 number as if I were a customer (my parents are) of AOL who could not receive mail. I got some poor lady in India who tried to tell me first I had mail controlls set up on my AOL screen name preventing the mail from getting through. Finally I got her to beleive this was not the case and shoe could hardly believe this was the case. Eventually she opened a trouble ticket with the real engineers who would “look into and promptly solve my problem, very promptly” of course I had no faith that this would happen. To add insult to injury before she let me off the hook I “needed to talk to a ‘benefit’s specialist’ about getting $35 free in my AOL online shopping account” the “benefit’s specialist” was someone playing pre-recorded messages trying to get me to sign up for some service, when I made a comment such as “no thanks” they would hit a button saying “if you would take a moment to reconsider this valuable offer from AOL…” it was an endless and vicious cycle, I finally gave up and said “I am now terminating this call” what kind of psycho organization tries to sell you something when you finish with a tech support call? This is stooping to a new low, even for AOl…it was entertaining though.

In the end I gave in, sort of. I have set Postfix to route mail going to AOL.Com and only AOL.Com email addresses through my ISP’s unrelaible mail server. It’s not the best solution, nor the internet standards based correct one, but after all someone has to help these poor AOL users see the light, next project… Tag all messages to AOL addresses with a link to this post so everyone we send mail to at AOL understands why AOL really is an evil corporation that just won’t play with the same internet standards everyone else does.


  1. The same has happened with me, and my mail server on Comcast. I just tell outlook to use the Comcast server for mail going to AOL.

  2. Never touched AOL, never will. Why do people still put up with that crap?

    “America Online: So not easy to use, no wonder it makes little children cry.”

  3. Just wait till your monthly statement arrives 🙂
    Didn’t you know that by calling their customer service you give your permission to sign for the service? Kidding…
    Honestly, I think I understand AOL’s position on this issue. It is good to know that they are trying to do something to combat Spam, unfortunately, legitimate users as yourself suffer as well.