I’ve been a customer of Lunarpages for a very long time, so long that I can’t really say how long. I know it’s been since 2006 because of date stamps on some files, but I think it’s really since the late 90’s. We’ve had our ups and downs, extended outages, billing mistakes, customer service hassles—like other hosting companies. Indeed over the years, I’ve moved most of my hosting elsewhere and primarily used Lunarpages for email. I kept my email there because they had a good implantation of SpamAssassin, a spam-fighting tool. Some hosts have a crippled version of SpamAssassin, but Lunarpages had a good one, or at least they used to.
SpamAssassin works well when all of its pieces are working, namely:
- Standard filtering rules
- Custom filtering rules and blacklists
- Real-time block list (RBL) checking
- Bayesian filtering
After hundreds of spam messages had arrived with inexplicably low spam scores, I started investigating. One of the things I found was that some of the messages came from senders on the RBL. So 17 days ago, I opened a ticket with Lunarpages, asking if they had RBL working? And with that I went down the rabbit hole into Alice’s Wonderland.
It’s a long and sorry story, but basically the support representatives gave me bad information. I proved them wrong. They escalated to a higher-level support representative and this repeated. I ended up 4 levels high in the support structure. As my ticket escalated, response became slower and slower. What started with half-day response turned into 2-3 days.
At every level, the support person, administrator or supervisor tried to tell me that it was my fault, not theirs or that nothing was wrong. I had to search Internet forums, essentially doing their job, to find out what part of their system was broken. And each one of them eventually admitted I was right, fixed something (but not the actual problem) and declared victory.
They went in and trashed my SpamAssassin configuration and then told me it was wrong (what they did). They told me that the diagnostic information was not being displayed because my rules were wrong (they weren’t working because of a server-wide configuration). They told me that spam was getting through because I had some unspecified error in the rules (actually a firewall was blocking all spam filtering on the server). Finally they said that my domain was blocked at the RBL (it was the entire shared server, not my domain). They showed a culture of trying to close tickets rather than solve problems, and making their problems my problem. Rather than responding faster as the weeks drew on, they became slower at response. Finally, someone representing himself as a System Administrator Supervisor told me basically that I was right, RBL checking was not working, and they had no plans to fix it. They came up with all sorts of excuses over a total of 17 days evading the issue, but finally said:
You are right as URIBL has a specific blocklist notification rule specifically for Spam Assassin. It also seems that URIBL is adding their own limit the amount of emails they are willing to filter (as your account is running on a shared environment you are not the only one that is trying to use this RBL), and there are only a small number of companies that are doing this when it comes to SpamAssassin….
At this point I am not aware of any plans to purchase a datafeed from URIBL
The RBL provider has limits on how many queries they will perform for free. Lunarpages won’t set up their own mirror, and they won’t pay for the service, so the server where my account resides just doesn’t get spam RBL filtering and without it, most spam gets through. They offered to sell me a more expensive account, or to move me to another server where they can’t promise I won’t have the same problem.