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Why doesn't my Vacation Message work every time? - 11/08/06

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Why doesn't my Vacation Message work every time?
Date: November 8, 2006 6:06 PM
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When users set up an auto-reply message, using either the Vacation Message feature or the auto-reply feature in spamBlocker, they find that not every message sent to their mailbox gets the automatic response. That's correct, not every message sent to you gets an auto-reply, but every *sender* does get an auto-reply. Here's how it works:

The first time any unique sender emails a message to you when you have an auto-reply enabled, they get the response. But each sender only gets one auto-reply per day. If they send a subsequent message within that day, they won't get another auto-reply. If they send another message the next day they'll get another auto-reply from your mailbox. This is by design, and works that way on both the Vacation Message feature, and the automatic reply when you use spamBlocker on High, which goes to senders not yet in your allowed sender list.

This also includes sending messages to yourself. You can only get one auto-reply per day.

There are some very good reasons for this design, mainly to prevent something similar to what is called a "forwarding loop". In this case we call it a bounce loop. What if the sender had an auto-reply on their own mailbox? Then a loop would be started with emails going back and forth as fast as the servers could handle them, until the service melted down and no one could get messages. Or what about spammers that use bogus addresses that can't be replied to? Same thing would happen, your auto-reply would go to a bogus address, that message would bounce back to you with a "user unknown" error, prompting your mailbox to fire off another auto-reply to the server that bounced you, which would probably cause another message back to you. Etc.

So even though it might confuse you when trying to test it, rest assured that every sender gets your message, but no more than once per day. When you create a new Vacation Message, unfortunately you only get to test it once on your own. You'll need another mailbox or the assistance of a friend to test it again. I know this might leave you with a feeling of uncertainty about whether it is really working or not. But it really is. Here's one suggestion that I use myself. Go to My Account and set up another mailbox or two, which takes only a couple of minutes and is free for most subscribers. Then send yourself a message from those and check your auto-reply. Then just delete those extra mailboxes until next time you need one.

Discussion

Posted by: Anonymous   |   November 13, 2006 4:49 AM    |   (1)

How about making it so that you don't have to "go on vacation" every time you don't want to access your email for a few months.
Having your email archived and having new email bounce after a period of inactivity should be strictly opt in!!

This can be disastrous. What about people who are unexpectedly out of the country for a while, or in the hospital. There is no excuse for Earthlink treating their customers like this.

I will probably be leaving Earthlink because of this policy.

Posted by: rob   |   November 13, 2006 9:29 AM    |   (2)

Anonymous: You're suggesting that there should be no policy to ever stop incoming email to any email account no matter how long it's been inactive? I assume that would cost a ton of money to maintain, and mostly for accounts that are never going to be used again. I'd rather have it the way it is and pay the monthly fee I'm paying, then to pay more to support thousands of inactive accounts.

How hard is it for a person to put on the away message sometime within three months of having to leave the country or go to the hospital? Anyway, you can check your email from both places.

I personally don't see the issue. You don't lose any email you've already got, and I'd say that the new stuff coming in isn't that urgent if you haven't checked it for three months.

Posted by: SANDRA SPITZER   |   February 17, 2007 7:14 PM    |   (3)

my account with earthlink was closed on 2/16/07. On 2/15/07 I went to my account and found how to get my emails forwarded. Time Warner told me to put roadrunner and it would work. It didn't. I am not getting my emails. I asked if I shouldn't use adelphia since that's what they gave me when I opened the account (Time Warner bought Adelphia, so the cables are Adelphia)
What do I do??
Sandy Spitzer

Posted by: Email Guy   |   February 17, 2007 11:57 PM    |   (4)

Sandra - you can't forward from a closed account. Once the account is cancelled, the mailbox at EarthLink is removed and any email sent to it will bounce to the sender with a "user unknown" message. If you want to keep the email address active for forwarding it to your new account, you will need to call Customer Service and convert your account to email-only, called Premium Mail, for $3.95 a month. They can still reactivate the cancelled mailbox for you.

Posted by: Joyce McLean   |   June 26, 2007 9:24 AM    |   (5)

how do I set up arrangements for a 'on vacation' 'away from desk' type reply to e-mail?
Thank you!

Click Preferences / Vacation Message.

Email Guy


Posted by: Cliff   |   July 6, 2007 1:18 PM    |   (6)

Need an OPT OUT that does not say that I am on vacation.

I agree with Anonymous Nov 13, 2006. At very very least, there should be an OPT OUT for this.

I have several addresses that I use for widely varying things (U.S. Govt, Earthlink, conversing with different businesses, privates, etc.). Having earthlink tell entities that send to these accounts that I no longer exist is boardering on criminal tampering.

That commenter was referring to mailboxes that are totally unused for long periods of time (and don't have a vacation message set), at which point we stop accepting new messages for them. The sender gets a response that the mailbox has been inactive for a long time. We have many many abandoned mailboxes, as users are allowed to create multiple ones at will. Those abandoned mailboxes just become spam traps, and fill up with garbage, resulting in a lot of expense and a decreased service level for all users. This is a reasonable policy and one that is not at all uncommon in the industry, for both paid and free email services.

Simply checking the mailbox restarts the clock, and any mailbox with forwarding turned on, or with a vacation message turned on, are exempted from it and continue to accept new messages forever. So there's two different "opt-outs" right there.

Email Guy


Posted by: Gabe   |   September 17, 2007 3:21 AM    |   (7)

How do I set up my computer when I go on Vacation?

If you are asking about putting a vacation message on your mailbox to auto-reply while you are away from your email, you can turn that on in Web Mail. Click Preferences / Vacation Message, and set it up there. You can specify the auto-reply text and the start and end dates (which you can change or turn off at any time). This does not depend on your computer, which does not have to be online or even turned on while you are away. This is done on the EarthLink side for you.

Email Guy


Posted by: Bruce Clark   |   December 12, 2007 8:19 AM    |   (8)

Dear Email Guy-
Is there any way I can verify - or even know - who has received my vacation message, and when? It would be very, very helpful if the outgoing vacation message posted in my sent email log just like an email I sent. I could thereby prove that a recipient had indeed been notified that I was out of my office...in a business setting, being able to produce this proof is often necessary. Perhaps I can find the outgoing vacation message posting in webmail? This is a very important feature for business use. Thanks for your help.

There is no way for you to prove it. Even if we gave you proof of it being sent, that doesn't guarantee the recipient saw it. I can tell you that they are sent out with virtually 100% reliability, and we do log them but that isn't available to you. The rules are, for any message that makes it to your Inbox, the auto-reply is sent for the first message received from any particular sender in a 24 hour period. Thus, the same sender will only get one auto-reply per day. And any messages that don't go to your Inbox (Known Spam, Suspect Email, etc.) do not get an auto-reply.

You can send yourself a message from another mailbox and confirm that you get the auto-reply, but you can only test it once per day as I described above. But you can count on an auto-reply having been sent for any message that you see in your Inbox.

Email Guy


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