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Sololobo
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Well done ravenstar68.

See post #9 in this thread,  http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/Legitimate-Mail-blocking-by-Virgin-Media/m-p/3216551/highl...

Then see this post from VM,  http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/Spam-Folder-Settings-Change/td-p/3267458

Followed by the article here,  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/30/virgin_patches_botched_spam_filters/

 Give kudos where due, ravenstar68 deserves lots and lots of them for this effort alone.




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Message 2 of 13
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Re: Well done ravenstar68.

Id like to second that.

Ravenstar (and incidentally HowardML) have done a great service to paying customers by pushing to get the issue a higher profile than VM were initially prepared to give it.

 

 

 


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Re: Well done ravenstar68.

I can now exclusively reveal that the letter in The Register today was sent to me via my MP (Stephen Hammond) from the Minister for Digital and Culture - Matt Hancock MP. This was in response to a letter I sent to Stephen Hammond about the spam content found issue. Of course credit goes to ravenstar68 for his primary contribution to this outcome.


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Sololobo
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Re: Well done ravenstar68 & HowardML.

 HowardML,

I'm sorry that I omitted to mention your sterling contribution to the cause. 

I have amended the subject line to reflect this. Have a kudo (I can only give you 1, it should be more).

 




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Re: Well done ravenstar68 & HowardML.

Kudos to @HowardML and also to Stephen Hammond MP for their involvement.  While my own MP, Jack Dromey stated he was going to contact Matt Hancock, I did not get any sight of any further mails from him.

Ravenstar68

Howard and I have both been actively pushing on this.  It is with regret that we took the decision of involving our respective MP's we have tried to give Virgin plenty of opportunities to deal with this responsibly before now. 

Note this only represents half of what needs doing.  Virgin Media must now commit to resolving the issue of incorrect filtering.  What is needed now.

  • The majority if not all spam email to be filtered into the spam folder with minimal user involvement.
  • The majority if not all legitimate emails to be delivered to users inboxes rather than the spam folder with minimal user involvement.

To expect a perfect record 100% of the time is IMHO unreasonable.  For one thing spammers play cat and mouse games with the spam filtering.  For another, anyone who trusts computers to get EVERYTHING right is a fool.  I'm not a luddite.  I love computers.  I just am realistic about what I expect from them.

Ravenstar68

________________________________________


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Re: Well done ravenstar68 & HowardML.

I have thanked Stephen Hammond MP for his help and also asked him to pass my thanks to the Minister and his staff who contacted VM for us.

As some of you may know I was a civil servant in my previous life and had long running responsibility for handling Ministerial correspondence via MPs. I calculated with ravenstar68 that this would be the right way to go because as ravenstar had so clearly pointed out on this Forum so many times that the unwarranted rejection of legitimate e-mails was becoming a matter of concern, not only to individuals but to the e-mail and business community as a whole. That made it a legitimate matter of public interest.

I do want us to clear on one issue. The Forum Team have been supportive throughout this long running saga. They were at the receiving end of the many posts and of the many referrals they had to make to the VM postmaster team. It was clear that there were limits to what they could achieve. We needed to push harder and outside our usual channels.

But a change like the one being made does require careful planning so it was not surprising that there was a delay from when ravenstar suggested it after proving it did alleviate the issue and implementation. We both believe that the delay was too protracted. Still we got there in the end.

There is a further point. You will have seen numerous posts on the Forum complaining about the resurgence of spam. I know of no evidence that this change has contributed to that, though others have put 2 and 2 together and come up with 5. What the change does do is redistribute the available spam between the web mail folders.

We know the VM spam filters are to use a colloqualism "pants" but we must be careful to distinguish between issues. We'd appreciate support when we make that point. And you can be sure that neither of us will let up on our pressure on VM to rapidly bring about improvements to the spam filtering system. Though we understand better the limitations of such pressure now. We are not miracle workers.

@ravenstar68  @James_W @Sololobo


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Wrock
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Re: Well done ravenstar68 & HowardML.

Indeed, the upswing in reports of large quantities of obvious spam in a few inboxes not being caught by the filters began at least a week before the stated changes to the account settings in web mail which will deliver spam to the spam folders.  I saw reports around November 20th of accounts suddenly beginning to leak large quantities of obvious spam through which is a good week before the account changes to the spam folders were said to begin on the 28th.  As a result of the coincident timing, there will be widespread confusion.  On the other hand, why should users of an email account need to worry about such details? They just need the account to function.  Good protection against spam and phishing is one important aspect of a working account these days.  I'm beginning to think that email providers should be licensed or rated and required to meet minimal acceptable standards!

I continue to be mystified as to how a Cloudmark spam-content-filtering implementation can be functioning so poorly.  There are significant problems with both false positive and false negatives for Virgin Media accounts, well beyond normal errors inherent in the process of marking spam.  I'm sure Cloudmark would like to know about the problems since this implementation is giving their product a bad name.

I think you'll find that Steve Henderson of Comm Corp played a role in the escalation to force a change to the "reject spam" default setting, https://twitter.com/EasyInbox/status/795950026686132224.   If you remember, he was the first to mention Matt Hancock, http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/Problems-delivering-to-Virgin-domains/td-p/3222224/page/4.

There is even more work for Virgin Media to do now as it will become clear to account holders who check their spam folders the extent of the false positives.  Is there any sign that marking messages as "not spam" is functioning?  So many users have reported lack of success during the past year.

-Wrock.

 

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Message 8 of 13
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Re: Well done ravenstar68 & HowardML.


Wrock wrote:

 

I think you'll find that Steve Henderson of Comm Corp played a role in the escalation to force a change to the "reject spam" default setting, https://twitter.com/EasyInbox/status/795950026686132224.   If you remember, he was the first to mention Matt Hancock, http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/Problems-delivering-to-Virgin-domains/td-p/3222224/page/4.

-Wrock.

 


You evidently forgot about this post here. https://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/Legitimate-Mail-blocking-by-Virgin-Media/m-p/3231653/high... - Admittedley it doesn't mention Matt Hancock by Name, but it does mention his position.  Jack Dromey MP emailed him on 13th October.

I've just been checking my emails and it seems that he got a reply on the 22nd November, although he only forwarded the reply to me on the 30th November.

Note that Howard also posted here

https://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/Legitimate-Mail-blocking-by-Virgin-Media/m-p/3238661/high... - Which is actually the first to mention Matt Hancock by name.

Why did we go to our local MP's rather than to the Rt Hon Matt Hancock Directly?  Because representations from an MP on behalf of his constituents to the appropriate government department can carry far more weight.  They also have the power to ask questions directly in parliament if they feel the situation warrants it.

If you're interested here are the letter from Jack Dromey and it's reply.

BTW - I have not finished yet.  IMHO Virgin Media hide behind the fact that the email service is provided for free when it comes to dealing with their responsibilities to customers.  The fact is that although it's not mentioned in the Terms and Conditions, it is promoted on their website as an inclusive benefit to Virgin Media customers.

I am not a lawyer myself, however I believe that by promoting the service in this way, Virgin Media have taken on a responsibility for fixing issues within the email service within a timely manner.  

Also while they might argue that the initial outcome for example of rejecting mail deemed to be spam was unforeseeable, the fact that legitimate mail was being rejected was made clear to them many months ago.  At that point, what was happening was no longer an unforeseeable problem.  As such Virgin Media should have taken a far more proactive approach to resolving the matter before now.

@James_W @danbayliss

With regards to the email mail service in general, Virgin Media must take a far more active stance in rolling out fixes to the platform in a timely manner.

The Web Mail platform itself is currently unstable and has been for many weeks.  Attempts to log in are met with connection errors, or failures of parts of the platform, which would if browsers weren't blocking the redirects as unsafe end up diverting the user to a Technical Error page.

As a company you promote the use of your Web mail platform as convenient for users.  Yet these failing make it anything but.

With regards to the spam filtering - While the service is not hosted directly on Virgin's own network.  Virgin Media must take ownership of the ongoing poor state of the spam filtering and develop a strategy for working with Ziggo AND Cloudmark to resolve this issue properly.

Cloudmark has a good reputation as a spam filtering service.  Which should make you ask, "Why is our service not catching spam, and why is it catching legitimate mail as spam?

Finally Virgin Media must do more to communicate known issues and a road map for resolving them with the users on these Forums.  Virgin's silence on these issues leads to thoughts that Virgin Media are disinterested in resolving the issue at all.  While I do not personally believe this, the old mantra of 

SILENCE BREEDS CONTEMPT

springs to mind here.

While I understand and respect that Virgin are concerned that sharing too much information may benefit their rivals.  Sharing too little information can also be used by those same rivals when arguing as to why people should not choose Virgin Media as a provider.

Ravenstar68

________________________________________


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Sololobo
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Message 9 of 13
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Re: Well done ravenstar68 & HowardML.

Re: ravenstar68

BTW - I have not finished yet.  IMHO Virgin Media hide behind the fact that the email service is provided for free when it comes to dealing with their responsibilities to customers.  The fact is that although it's not mentioned in the Terms and Conditions, it is promoted on their website as an inclusive benefit to Virgin Media customers.

I am not a lawyer myself, however I believe that by promoting the service in this way, Virgin Media have taken on a responsibility for fixing issues within the email service within a timely manner.  

 

I have posted this elsewhere on the forum but it seems worth repeating:- http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/quot-Spam-content-found-quot/m-p/3243289#M134914 post #37

There seems to be a potential conflict with what you were told and what is stated within VM's Acceptable Use Policy.

http://www.virginmedia.com/shop/the-legal-stuff/acceptable-use-policy.html

3. Use of the services

3.1. You must not use our services in any way that is unlawful or illegal or in any way to the detriment of other Internet users. You also must not allow anybody using your connection to use our services in any way that is unlawful or illegal or in any way to the detriment of other Internet users.

3.2. In addition to and without prejudice to your obligations pursuant to our terms and conditions, you agree to comply with (and ensure that others using the services comply with) all applicable laws, statutes and regulations in connection with the services. As the User of record, you are liable for all use of all accounts in your name, irrespective of use without your knowledge and/or consent.

3.3. You are required to keep your contact details provided to Virgin Media up to date. Keeping such records up to date is important as we may need to send notices or other information to you using the contact information you gave us.

3.4. Users are expected and required to review email messages in their primary Virgin Media mailbox provided as part of the services or the preferred email address registered with Virgin Media on a regular basis. This is to enable us to advise you of any significant issues that may affect your use of the services. We recommend that you check your primary Virgin Media mailbox or preferred email address at least every 3 days. We normally notify customers of AUP-related issues prior to suspension/disconnection of services and it is important that you read these emails.

3.4.1. It is a users responsibility to ensure the primary Virgin Media mailbox remains active and therefore capable of receiving emails or to provide Virgin Media with an alternative preferred email address that can be accessed on a regular basis.

3.5. In the event that your use of our services is under investigation by relevant authorities, we reserve the right to suspend the services for the duration of the investigation.

Section 3.4 clearly states a VM mailbox is provided as part of their service.

Section 3.4.1 clearly states that the user is obliged to ensure their VM mailbox remains active for the purposes of receiving email communications.

If a customer only has a VM email address (provided as part of their services as noted above), and they (the customer) have the responsibility of ensuring it's active and working correctly, if the mailbox fails to function correctly and VM have been informed of this, surely it then becomes the responsibility of VM to restore correct functionality of this service?

There is no stated requirement for a customer to have or use an alternative email address (unless I missed that somewhere) so it's incumbent for VM to ensure their own email service does work and that it's fit for purpose.

Either that or change their Acceptable Use Policy to reflect this.




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Message 10 of 13
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Re: Well done ravenstar68 & HowardML.

Ravenstar68, thank you very much for taking the time to scan in the correspondence and provide more background into the successful campaign which resulted in Virgin Media taking appropriate action to limit the damage caused by inappropriate account spam-rejection settings since the autumn of 2015, resulting in the non-delivery of large quantities of legitimate email to Virgin Media accounts.

Virgin Media would benefit by standing up an easy method for professional senders to file cases with the postmaster directly.  This hanging about on a public forum for a week or so before a forum member comes around to pop a personal message and forward headers on the the postmaster who then fails to respond for weeks makes the email team look extremely unresponsive and unprofessional.  I understand that taking an email system in-house is a rough transition and the organization is likely to be lacking staff and expertise and is now perhaps required to work through a team in another country with the associated cultural and language challenges; nevertheless, if Virgin Media is going to continue to offer email accounts, then customers expect those accounts to function to a tolerable standard, and commercial senders expect a reasonable turn-around (five to seven business days) and professional responses to cases where legitimate messages have been misclassified as spam.

I'm sorry to hear that web mail has been unstable for the past few weeks.  What is the underlying technical problem do you think?

When Virgin Media fails to communicate with users about the cause and resolution of problems, for example, the recent case where Virgin Media stayed silent on the fact that it had lost control of the domain registration for virgin.net for a number of hours on November 10th resulting in failure of email delivery to @virgin.net addresses, customers assume gross incompetence.  In this day and age of social media, where customers form their own communication channels such as Twitter and Facebook groups and can quickly and easily exchange information with each other, journalists, and even Members of Parliament, organizations which fail to communicate honestly and quickly with their customers about known issues lose out and damage their brand.  If they also fail to recognize and respond to large numbers of the same complaints, they lose customers.

There is no exposure of information about this email system which would benefit any of Virgin Medias rivals!  It has significant teething problems and questionable security practices, so that I consider it a liability for anyone who is using it.  The mistake that organizations make today is that they think that they are still in control of disseminating the "information".  By failing to participate as a useful partner in the dialogue their customers are already having with each other and additional interested parties, companies lose an opportunity to protect their brand and gain respect.  The Register would not have had cause to write another pair of articles in November about the inadequacies of Virgin Media's email system had Virgin Media been participating actively and productively in the conversation.  Nor would you have found it necessary to write to your Members of Parliament.

Keep fighting the good fight.  Your collective efforts are much appreciated.  And so for a celebratory limerick - I do hope that we have now passed the more severe stage of this crisis and that additional limericks will not be required.

A large British ISP called Virgin
did not deliver mail from your surgeon
The minister said stop it
You just cannot block it
You must now deliver spam for certain.

-Wrock.