Got a support email this morning for OzBargain, where someone claimed that he has not been receiving our daily newsletter for the last couple of days, nor can they be found in his junk mail folder (which sometimes happen when you are sending out emails full of "deals"). Upon investigation, it turns out that
- He is using his
- TPG has been blocking some emails from OzBargain main server since 19 December.
- Many of our email subscribers using TPG email address also suffer the same issue, with TPG bounced our emails with 550 5.7.1 Client address [...] blocked. Listed on Barracuda Reputation Block List (BRBL).
Argh. I quickly checked against several other RBLs on MX Tools and none is reporting issues. After all we are only sending newsletters and comment notification emails on this IP, which is already included in SPF. So I followed the lookup link to Barracuda Central, and saw the IP is currently listed as "poor" on BRBL. There is also a form to request the IP to be temporarily removed from the black list for 30 days. Finally, there is also a link to EmailReg.org to have your domain registered and white-listed.
That's where things get interesting. As both Barracuda Central and EmailReg sit on .ORG domains, I assumed that those are community-run or NFP organisations. It turns out that after I signed up an account on EmailReg, registered my domain, I was presented with a form for my credit card information! To have your domain registered with EmailReg, which would get white-listed by BarracudaCentral, which is used by some ISPs for mail-filtering including TPG, it costs $20/year.
Wait! Hold on a minute?! My server has not been black listed by any other RBL, all out-bound emails are opt-in and all include Unsubscribe links -- and now I need to pay $20/year to deliver to TPG subscribers?! Even that it's not a guarantee. Who are we paying to anyway? WHOIS information is masked with privacy protection garbage. Their About page talks nothing about the structure and the recipients of my $20.
From the outside observer's point of view I can only see that they are running gears donated by Barracuda, inside their IP range, and also Barracuda's #1 recommendation when dealing with delisting. Googling EmailReg Scam shows that there are many others who suspect the same that EmailReg is nothing more than Barracuda's protection racket, a scheme to extort money to have your emails delivered. After all, there does not seem to be a way to find out why you have been blacklisted. You are pretty much at the mercy of these guys -- not much you can do until you pay the fee.
For OzBargain, I think I'll just bend over and pay the fee -- $20/year for that single domain is cheap enough for me not to loose any sleep over our email delivery. Lucky I am not some admin looking after eDM for hundreds of domains. Sour taste in mouth? Sure.