Dec 5, 2007

ISP Abuse Desk Contact Info

Here’s a nice resource from Clickz on how to contact major ISP abuse desks. This is handy if you’re managing your own email marketing in-house, and have found your IP or domain getting blacklisted.

What Do the ISPs Want from You? Check the Web

I’ll throw in a couple of our own tips:

  1. Don’t be discouraged if you craft a long, detailed message, send it to their abuse desk, and get nothing but an automated reply back, asking you to send "email headers." In my experience, your email does eventually make its way to a human, and the issue gets addressed. But give it several days for big ISPs. Give it weeks, months, or never for private spam filter companies like Barracuda or Postini.
  2. Don’t be defensive. Ever go to court to "defend yourself" from a traffic citation? Won’t work here, either. Stuff like, "We don’t spam" or "We have strict anti-spam policies here" or "that wasn’t spam, according to law" will get you nowhere fast. Just give ’em the facts. If you know you did something wrong, admit it AND fix it. Example: "Yeah, the sales dept. apparently slipped in a prospects list from their CRM into that last campaign. I punched the marketing director in the gut for not catching that. It won’t happen again. We monitor FBL complaints, and (until now) have had a good record, so I hope you’ll consider delisting us".
  3. The person who can un-block you is not some kind of Jabba-the-hutt looking creature who takes pleasure in blocking email. It’s a regular dude who’s getting 5 bazillion emails a day about, "I keep getting viagra emails! Help!" or, "People say I’m sending viagra emails, but i’m not! Please fix the internet!" Again, give ’em the facts, and give evidence you fixed the problem.
  4. Are you on their feedback loop? If not, get on it (or at least apply) before you contact them.
  5. Just go with a professional ESP, like—ahem—MailChimp. Not because we can get delisted easier if you spam (we can’t). But because most of the blocks we see are a result of improper email server configurations, and sloppy/non-existent list management and cleaning.

Believe it or not, there are "negotiators" who can help you talk to the ISPs, fix your problems, and come to a resolution: Word to the Wise is one business I’ve heard good things about.

Finally, if you have to contact an abuse desk at an ISP, it helps to understand their internal processes. Here’s a document from MAAWG authored by AOL and Charter Communications staff: Abuse Desk Common Practices (PDF)