Archive for category 800-Pound Gorillas

Earthlink ignores its own emails

Earthlink has apparently given up on reading their own emails to ‘hostmaster@earthlink.net’:

   ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
<hostmaster@earthlink.net>
    (reason: 550 hostmaster@earthlink.net...Due to extended inactivity new mail is not currently being accepted for this mailbox.)

“Due to extended inactivity”?!?  How long is “extended”???

It’s so sad that so many companies want only to take their customers’ money but have little to no other interaction with the customer!!

Yahoo! is such a hypocrite!

Yahoo! claims to value their customers, stating “We respect our customers above all else”.  They also claim to value Community and state they are committed to serving both the Internet community and their own communities.  They also claim that they don’t value bureaucracy, arrogance, sloth and many other concepts that make for bad business, yet I can’t say that I’m convinced.

I’ve been dealing with Yahoo! FOR YEARS (since 2005) in my alter-ego attempts to shut down phishing sites and contact owners of compromised web servers.

During the first year or so, they had COMPLETE IDIOTS working in the department that handled abuse complaints.  I would send them an email detailing an email address that was being used by a phishing site to collect the victims’ data, or telling them of a domain they recently registered that was being used as a phishing site.  They would constantly send me back responses asking for the headers and body of the email I received.  I would constantly send them back a reply indicating that I wasn’t complaining about an email I received – I was complaining about a domain or email address being used for illegal purposes.  They would again send me back another response asking for the headers and body of the email I received.  I would again send them back an email indicating that I wasn’t complaining about an email I received – I was complaining about a domain or email address being used for illegal purposes.  This would go back and forth for 4 or 5 iterations before they’d actually do something about the issue in the original email.

It took some complaints and rants on a few public forums before someone from Yahoo! contacted me directly and told me to try an alternate email address to send my complaints to.  Phew!  After over a year of dealing with idiots on their front line, I was able to get to the second stage of support directly. Woo hoo!!  Of course, I shouldn’t have to know someone on the inside to get the alternate abuse email address, but I finally did.  Maybe life didn’t have to be so frustrating after all?!?

It turns out, there’s a separate special email address for dealing with domain names that have been hosted thru Yahoo! as well.  It got to the point that I would report a domain name that was recently registered and used to host a phishing site, and the site would literally be offline within 30 minutes! (I think the record was 5 minutes – great job Yahoo!)  In recent years, the process worked like a well-oiled machine.

Every now and then, I’d run across a domain whose registration was legitimate, but the admin and/or technical contact used a Yahoo! email address.  I these cases, I would send an email to the given email addresses letting the owner of the domain know their server had been hijacked and was being used to host one or more phishing sites.  The best way to tell someone where the phishing content on their compromised server is was to send them the complete URL of the phishing site.

I don’t know when, but some time ago (more than 2 years?), Yahoo! starting blocking emails to their users that contained apparent phishing URLs (as determined by some anti-phishing groups).  When I tried to contact the owner of a compromised web site using a Yahoo! email address, the email would bounce with the following message:

<DOMAIN-OWNER@yahoo.com>
    (reason: 554 Message not allowed - [PH01] Email not accepted for policy
    reasons.  Please visit http://postmaster.yahoo.com/errors/postmaster-27.html
    [120])

OK, makes sense.  They are trying to protect their users from phishing sites.  Good on ya!

Here comes the problem: Yahoo! has received emails from me for years.  They know that I’m on the up-and-up, and yet when I send them one of these bounce messages and ask them to forward the original email to their user (so that the user can be made aware that their server has been hacked), they refuse!  Of course, they start off by completely misinterpreting the reason for my emails.  After attempting to reeducate them, they seemed to realize the intention behind these emails, but THEY STILL REFUSE TO HELP ME HELP THEIR USER!

I have asked MANY MANY TIMES how do I get my email address and server WHITELISTED so I can continue to help their users without being blocked like this?  They’ve known me long enough to know that I’m not going to scam or spam their users!  It has gotten to the point that they seem to be completely ignoring my emails asking them to forward something to one of their users!

This is what gets me…  Yahoo! claims to have values.

Excellence?  Innovation?  Customer Fixation?  TEAMWORK??  Community?!?  Words are cheap, Yahoo!…  On one hand, you claim to have an “infectious sense of mission to make an impact on society”, yet when an outsider such as myself asks for a simple request IN AN EFFORT TO HELP YOUR USERS, you all but ignore me!?!

I’m sure one of the largest ISPs in the world knows how to do whitelisting?!?

And then there is their “What we don’t value…” list:

Really??  Bureaucracy, arrogance, formality, sloth, head in the sand, one size fits all, too big for your britches, closed doors, passing the buck!  You claim there are all things YOU DON’T VALUE, but I’m not seeing it.  You make it IMPOSSIBLE to speak with someone there who can actually help out with an issue.  You think the only way people should have to contact you is via email or (worse yet) web forms!  Your “one size fits all” mentality prevents you from even considering that someone from the outside may have something beneficial to offer your users (unless you can make money on it)!

CHASE prevents homeowner from paying his mortgage

A man from Framingham, Massachusetts may lose his home to CHASE after CHASE makes it impossible for him to pay his mortgage!

Here’s the complete story about a man who is trying to repair his house after extensive damage due to extreme winter conditions.  He received a $50,000 check from his insurance company, but the check is made out to both the homeowner and the mortgage company (CHASE).  CHASE said they won’t sign the check over to the homeowner until the homeowner performs over half of the repairs.  Now that he’s done that (and depleted his savings and retirement funds, and causing him to fall behind on his mortgage), CHASE is saying he’ll have to perform 90% of the repairs instead and catch up on his mortgage before they’ll release the check!?!  I’m sure it’s ILLEGAL for them to withhold the check until he pays up his mortgage – that’s UNRELATED to the insurance payment and would probably constitute fraud on CHASE’s part?!  Typical big-bank attitude – make the customer twist in the wind while CHASE does absolutely nothing except make things more difficult for their customer!  Why doesn’t CHASE meet the homeowner half-way, cash the check and pay 50% of it to the homeowner?  That sounds too simple, huh??

This is just one example why we haven’t done any business with any CHASE company for over 20 years!

YouTube (a.k.a. Google) makes reporting abuse (nearly) impossible!

I am SO TIRED of large companies like Google who don’t want to provide support for their own products and would rather you check with the “community” support board for your answers!  I attempted to send an email to YouTube’s abuse email address (abuse@youtube.com) to report a video that I believe was violating their terms of service, and I got back the following reply:

This is an automated response to let you know that your message has been
caught by our spam filter and won't be read. It appears that you have
reached us at an incorrect address. The best way to get a hold of us is by
visiting the Help Resources page at
http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/static.py?page=start.cs&hl=en_US
or checking out our Contact Us page: http://youtube.com/t/contact_us

Please don't reply to this message -- we won't get your response.

By looking through our Help Center, you should be able to find a solution
to, or report your problem. You'll also be able to gather the information
we need to best assist you.

Anyone with half a brain knows that putting a spam filter on an abuse mailbox is a stupid idea.  Of course what I’m sending you may look like spam BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT I’M TRYING TO REPORT TO YOU!!!  Google seems to do everything in their power to not have to read emails from their customers!

I can’t believe Verisign uses Dun & Bradstreet as a reliable source of information!?!

I almost fell out of my chair yesterday when I was talking to someone at Verisign.  They were supposed to be authenticating my company’s identity for a Code Signing Certificate.

I called Verisign support to see why I hadn’t heard from them yet (they were supposed to call me days before).  They said they called the day before, but the phone just rang and rang.  I asked “What number did you call?”, and they gave me a phone number I haven’t had for over 10 years!  When I asked them where they got that number, they said “Dun & Bradstreet”!  I HAD TO LAUGH!!  Here is Verisign trying to verify that I am who I say I am, and they’re relying on information from a known information fabricator?!?  That’s just ridiculous!!!

Here is the disclaimer right from Dun & Bradstreet’s own site:

D&B does not warrant the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of any of the data and/or programs (Information) available at this D&B Site. The Information is provided as is without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement.

I asked why they didn’t open up Google or Yahoo!, type in my company’s name, and go to the first entry’s web site and find a phone number?  They said they don’t use Google; they only use “reliable online directories”!

It’s been a LONG TIME since I’ve heard someone seriously  use the term “reliable” in the same sentence as “Dun & Bradstreet”!!

Verisign charges for WHOIS

I needed to lookup the owner/registrar for a “.name” domain today.  I’ve never done that before.  It looks like Verisign manages the “.name” TLD, so I find their web page WHOIS for the “.name” TLD.  I entered the domain I needed to look up and got one of the more useless WHOIS responses I’ve ever seen.

Domain Name ID: 2960794DOMAIN-NAME
Domain Name: SERVER-LOGIN.NAME
Sponsoring Registrar ID: 20REGISTRAR-NAME
Sponsoring Registrar: Cronon AG Berlin, Niederlassung Regensburg
Domain Status: ok
Registrant ID: 2428378CONTACT-NAME
Admin ID: 2428378CONTACT-NAME
Tech ID: 2428378CONTACT-NAME
Billing ID: 2428378CONTACT-NAME
Name Server ID: 1344789HOST-NAME
Name Server: NS3.MG-PROVIDING.DE
Name Server ID: 1344790HOST-NAME
Name Server: NS4.MG-PROVIDING.DE
Created On: 2007-10-22T21:24:00Z
Expires On: 2010-10-22T21:24:00Z
Updated On: 2009-10-23T00:35:40Z

It proved that the domain was indeed registered, but provided no ownership or contact information.  Going back to the main WHOIS query page on https://whois.nic.name/ showed another option for a “detailed WHOIS query”.  The page says “For detailed Whois searches, which are subject to higher privacy protection than Summary and Standard, please initiate the query using the form below” and prompts for the domain name.  So I enter the domain name and get the following:

verisignchargesforwhois

Verisign is CHARGING for WHOIS!!  I couldn’t believe that Verisign would actually charge for one of the most basic services provided by domain registrars on the Internet.  Well, I do believe it since it is Verisign – why should I be surprised??

Don’t call AT&T customer support if you’re in a hurry…

Don’t you just LOVE it when your wireless cell provider decides to change things on your account without you asking or them telling you?!?  And then you get to WASTE YOUR TIME on the phone with them while they fix it!

OK – here’s what happened:  My brother sent me an email the other day saying the voicemail on my cell phone doesn’t work any more.  I tried it from my home phone, and sure enough, if I don’t pick up, I get a fast busy when it would normally go to voicemail.

So I call AT&T’s support line.  I get a very pleasant sounding woman, explain to her that my voicemail doesn’t seem to work any more, and she looks up my account.  After a minute, she tells me that the voicemail feature was removed from my account on Nov. 14, but there is no note in the account as to why someone might have done that.  (I left Sprint because they seemed to be changing things every couple of months just to see if I was paying attention – I don’t need AT&T doing that as well!)  Anyway, she added back my voicemail feature and told me I’d need to go in to my voicemail to set it up once we finished.  Fair enough considering… (she was rather helpful and pleasant, I have to credit her that)  She told me she’d call me back on a land-line to help me go through the setup.  I gave her my home number, then waited a minute until she called me back on my cell phone.  She told me that my home line blocked the call since her company (a contactor to AT&T) has the caller-ID blocked!  Why does a phone company (or its subcontractor) need to block its caller-ID?!??  (I HATE IT when a company does that!)  Anyway, I was on my own trying to set up my voicemail.

I hung up the phone and immediately dialed my voicemail.  I got a recording saying “Welcome to voicemail.  Press 1 to access your voicemail once the greeting has started.  Press 2 to send voicemail to someone’s mailbox…”, a bunch of crap like that (I don’t recall the exact words).  I was waiting for some “greeting” to start so I could press 1 to access my voicemail.  It never happened.  So I press 1 and it asks for my mailbox number.  What mailbox number?!?  I never had a mailbox number before!!  I tried my cell phone number, but it didn’t like that.  It told me “if you don’t know you mailbox number, contact your administrator”.  I AM THE ADMINISTRATOR!!  It’s my account – I pay the bill!

After several attempts at accessing my voicemail, I decided to call back AT&T support from my land-line so they could guide me through the process on my cell phone.  I got Larry.  He made me tell him my phone number a last 4 digits of my SSN (which I’ve already entered on the keypad).  What is wrong with these companies?!?  (I think I know, but I’ll save that for another blog entry)  Anyway, it took me a few minutes to get him to look up my account and explain what was happening.  He asked if he could put me on hold a minute so he could analyze the account to see what was going on?  As if I had a choice, I said OK.  NINE MINUTES LATER, he comes back on the line and asks me try dial voicemail on the phone.  I dialed, got the same prompts, etc.  He suggested using my cell phone number without the area code as my mailbox number.  (geez, that’s an obvious thing to try)  No luck.  We tried a few other variations with no luck.  He asked if he could put me ON HOLD AGAIN so he could investigate this some more.  Sure, why not?  What else could I be doing with my time?!?

Anyway, after 10 more minutes on hold, someone (not Larry) picks up the phone: “Hello, may I help you?”  “Who is this?  And what happened to Larry?” I asked.  He said he doesn’t know what happened to Larry or why I was transferred to him, but if I explained my situation, he’d try to help me.  At this point, I was already on the phone with Larry for 30 minutes!  Now I get to start over?!?  Anyway, I explained that my voicemail wasn’t letting me in to set things up.  He looked up my account, tweaked a few things, told me to power-cycle the phone a few times, but I kept getting the same old crap when I went into voicemail.  He had me pull up the voicemail phone number setting in the phone – it said “+1401xxxxxxx” – he instructed me to remove the “+” from the number.  Really?  I’ve had this phone for over a year, and all of a sudden, it doesn’t like the “+”?!?  Anyway, I removed it and that didn’t make a difference.  He said “Oh, OK, I know what’s happening…”, pushed a few keys on his keyboard and said “try again”.  FINALLY, the voicemail prompts were making sense, asking my to set up my PIN and greeting.

It only took 50 minutes on the phone with AT&T’s “technical support” to get my cell phone’s voicemail working again!

Spamcop (Cisco) in bed with the spammers (or just incompetent)?

Sometimes, I don’t know why I try??

Why is it that Cisco, one of the largest networking companies in the world, cannot resolve a simple hostname in a URL?!?  I submitted a spam email to Spamcop that included the URL “http://www.med72.com/”.  When Spamcop tried to process the email, it said the following:

Finding links in message body

Parsing text part

Resolving link obfuscation

http://www.med72.com/
Host www.med72.com (checking ip) IP not found ; www.med72.com discarded as fake.

Tracking link: http://www.med72.com/

Cannot resolve http://www.med72.com/
Funny, but it resolves for me just fine:
D:\>nslookup www.med72.com
Server:  UnKnown
Address:  192.168.2.1

Non-authoritative answer:
Name:    www.med72.com
Addresses:  60.191.239.150, 61.191.191.241, 218.75.144.6, 119.39.238.2
203.93.208.86

I don’t think Spamcop is trying very hard to fulfill this service (a service that they make plenty of money from).