Time-Machine Tuesday: We’re picturing two bathtubs in a field

You might want to check what other emails have been blocked.

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This small software company does almost all its customer support through email, reports a pilot fish there.

“For the first two years I was there, all support email was handled via Outlook,” fish says. “However, we started to grow, and using Outlook became impractical; people started double-answering the same message.”

So company invests in a new support ticketing system that will allow better tracking of tickets and who is assigned to what.

The company’s lead support tech tests the new system for several weeks, and everything appears to be working fine. The rest of the techs are trained. The system is announced to customers as a big step forward in support. As a last step before launch, the support people create signatures to attach to all their outgoing messages to customers.

Finally, the system goes live — and it’s a disaster. Fish and his cohorts receive messages from customers without trouble. But none of their replies are getting to the customers.

Lead tech digs into the problem, and quickly discovers that that the company’s email service provider is blocking those outgoing messages as spam.

But why now? They’ve been using the mail provider since before the new software rolled out, and there’s never been a problem.

Lead tech reports the problem to the vendor that makes the trouble-ticketing system. There’s testing and more testing. But there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with the software. So what can it be?

The lead tech finally finds the problem, says fish — those new digital signatures, which consisted of name, company name and address, and job title. The tech had a flash of insight: The word “specialist” contains the name of a certain pharmaceutical product that is always a mark-as-spam trigger.

“Our new, revised signatures work much better now,” says fish.

Sharky checks his spam filter every day just in case it catches a true tale of IT life. Send me yours at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

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