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Vodafone SMTP problems


Guest Webreaper
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Hi all,

I'm repeatedly finding that Voda's SMTP service doesn't work. I have my mail account configured to use my own SMTP server, but repeatedly get a message saying "the server cannot send mail at this time". This is not a message generated from my SMTP server, so Vodafone must be hijacking my port 25 traffic and re-routing it through their SMTP servers, which presumably fail because of the different AUTH settings I'm sending.

Voda last recommended that I changed my SMTP server to send.vodafone.net, but the problem there is that I then can't send mail over Wifi.

Does anyone know how to over-ride the SMTP settings? Changing the port by doing smtp.myserver.co.uk:234 (to a port I know is supported on my server) doesn't seem to have any effect.

This is really starting to irritate me... any help gratefully accepted.

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Well, I'm not getting anywhere with this. I've been having a discussion with their customer care dept and since they're so hopeless I've decided to post a transcript of the email thread here. It started with me explaining the problem below, and asking how I can set my phone up so that

a) It'll use my smtp server, rather than theirs

:( It'll work over their GPRS network, reliably

c) It'll work over my wi-fi/adsl connection at home.

Here's how it's going so far:

Sent: 23 April 2008 13:02

Subject: Re: SubmitContactUsQuery

Hi Mr. Otway,

Thanks for your email to Vodafone about the problem for accessing your email from your mobile phone. Let me see what needs to be done.

I am sorry to learn that you are unable to access your emails from your mobile phone. I apologise to you for the inconvenience caused to you.

Mr. Otway, I would like to let you know that we have a separate dedicated team to solve all the technical queries of our customers. You need to contact our technical team on 191 from your mobile phone or 0870 700 191 from a landline and select option 2 and 2. I am sure that one of my colleagues will be pleased to assist you with all of your query.

I am sorry I was unable to help you. If there is anything else I can help you with, please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards,

Vodafone Customer Services

Hi,

Why is it that every time I email your customer support, I wait 2 days and get a complete waste-of-time response? It's just a waste of my time, frankly.

I am not having problems accessing my email. My email is fine. I am having problems with vodafone intercepting my access to my email, and with vodafone's email servers being completely unreliable.

I have put ALL the information required for a technician to answer my question in my original email. Please give the email to somebody who has a clue technically, and ask them to read it and answer it.

I'd also appreciate if you could flag my account to a customer services manager and ask them to review my correspondence history via email. I think you'll agree it is FAR from satisfactory.

Thank you

Hi

I'm sorry to hear you've been having problems you're having with your SMTP server.

The error message you're receiving "the server was unable to send email at this time" isn't a message which is sent by Vodafone and this would have come from your mail provider.

Vodafone don't hijack port 25 traffic and route this to our own SMTP servers as this port is an open port.

You would need to change the settings and change the SMTP settings to send.vodafone.net as explained in the previous email and as advised by our Technical Team.

I've made my manager aware of your situation and if you feel this needs escalating further, please give us a call and let us know.

I hope I've explained everything Mark.

Kind regards,

Vodafone Customer Services

Sent: 28 April 2008 12:05

To: [email protected]

Subject: RE: SubmitContactUsQuery

Hi there,

Some of the response in this email just doesn't make sense.

Firstly, I run my own Smtp server on co-located in telehouse. It absolutely will not return the message below - this must be a vodafone message.

Secondly, my smtp server works flawlessly when not using voda gprs (and has done for the last 8 or so years). So how do you explain that randomly I see this error whilst using gprs, but if I switch to send.vodafone.net it always works? There is clearly some traffic manipulation going on. My smtp server always works flawlessly over wifi (ie not using voda's network).

Lastly, I do not understand your 4th para. If you do not interfere with my smtp traffic, why would I need to switch to send.vodafone.net? And, more importantly, why would I - as it doesn't work over wifi (on a non vodafone network). I do not want to have to switch my smtp settings every time I switch from gprs to wifi.

This all worked without any problems up until a few weeks ago (I have never used the send.vodafone.net server before March 08). Please tell me what I can do to make my phone connect to my smtp server reliably over your gprs network.

Regards

Hi,

I've spoken to our technical team again and they've advised the SMTP server must be set as send.vodafone.net (if this fails, please try smtp.vodafone.net). This can't be set as anything else as this won't work.

You may find some more useful tips at www.vodafone.co.uk by clicking on help centre.

I've also attached a short customer feedback questionnaire and would really appreciate your thoughts to help us improve our service and I can assure you, this will be treated in confidence. Just click here to start.

Best Wishes,

Vodafone Customer Services

Sent: 29 April 2008 13:33

To: [email protected]

Subject: RE: SubmitContactUsQuery

Hi there,

For about the 5th time, can you please try reading the email thread before replying.

Why won't "anything else work"? I was told in an earlier email that Voda do not capture port 25 traffic and that I can use my own smtp server. If I use smtp.vodafone.net, it means I cannot send when my phone is connected using wi-fi, as your smtp auth on that server is done by the current connection details.

I am pleading with you now, please can you stop switching what you say (alternating between "yes, you can use your own smtp server" and "no, you need to use send.vodafone.net") and tell me how I can fix this problem. If you do not give me a satisfactory answer then I may cancel my contract as you clearly can't povide the service you promised (mobile email on the move).

Please find somebody technical who understands smtp protocols and ask them to re-read the entire thread and respond.

As for your survey, I'd love to respond, but I fear your (usually faulty) adult content filtering system would explode with the expletives I'd be tempted to use.

Regards

:( :( :( :D :( :( :( :(

Why are Vodafone so completely incapable of just getting a technician to answer my question? And do they seriously expect all Voda smartphone/PDA users to use the vodafone Smtp server, and then not be able to send any emails when connected over a non-Vodafone wireless network, or using Activesync??

Absolute total and complete muppets, the lot of them.

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Which APN are you using, internet or wap.vodafone.co.uk (or pp.vodafone.co.uk if you're on PAYT)? I can't imagine internet would screw with things, but wap.vodafone.co.uk could well do all kinds of strange stuff (I avoid it wherever possible).

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Not that it will be much help to you - but i did a quick search on Google for your error message and got the following hit.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q...me%22&meta=

which is basically this topic and and an Ad for AuthSMTP.

I use AuthSMTP - and can't fault them.... might be worth moving away from your own servers and "outsourcing" ;-)

(I am on UK T-Mobile - so can't help with voda problems...)

....

SF

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Thanks for the feedback guys, but you're both barking up the wrong tree. Which WAP/GPRS connection I use is irrelevant. POP works perfectly, as does IM, HTTP, FTP, etc., etc. The only thing that is a problem is SMTP traffic. This is obviously because Voda grab the SMTP traffic and re-route it to their own servers. I just wish they'd admit it and tell me how to fix it. Even if they gave me the username/pass details so my Smtp auth succeeds when connected via Wifi.

And as for the suggestion of moving my SMTP servers to another provider, why would I do that? They've worked perfectly for years, and are on a co-lo server which is also part of a server farm for (amongst others) Microsoft. This is not some cheap shoddy ISP providing my email, it's enterprise quality hosting (the joys of having a mate who owns an ISP :D).

What's going on here is that vodafone are just showing shocking customer service. The same problem happened when I questioned their adult content filtering system which fails about twice a week, resulting in a message saying "we can't determine your content filtering settings right now so we're blocking access to this site", just because it's a blog marked as 'objectionable content' (due to some strong language) on blogger.

At first I was impressed with Voda's mobile offering, but it's rapidly degrading. I think they're unable to keep up with demand.

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Thanks for the feedback guys, but you're both barking up the wrong tree. Which WAP/GPRS connection I use is irrelevant. POP works perfectly, as does IM, HTTP, FTP, etc., etc. The only thing that is a problem is SMTP traffic. This is obviously because Voda grab the SMTP traffic and re-route it to their own servers. I just wish they'd admit it and tell me how to fix it. Even if they gave me the username/pass details so my Smtp auth succeeds when connected via Wifi.

And as for the suggestion of moving my SMTP servers to another provider, why would I do that? They've worked perfectly for years, and are on a co-lo server which is also part of a server farm for (amongst others) Microsoft. This is not some cheap shoddy ISP providing my email, it's enterprise quality hosting (the joys of having a mate who owns an ISP :D).

What's going on here is that vodafone are just showing shocking customer service. The same problem happened when I questioned their adult content filtering system which fails about twice a week, resulting in a message saying "we can't determine your content filtering settings right now so we're blocking access to this site", just because it's a blog marked as 'objectionable content' (due to some strong language) on blogger.

At first I was impressed with Voda's mobile offering, but it's rapidly degrading. I think they're unable to keep up with demand.

Have you tried Secure SMTP on port 465 (obviously only if your server supports that).

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Have you tried Secure SMTP on port 465 (obviously only if your server supports that).

My smtp server accepts connections on another port, and I've tried that, but I think the port number is being ignored. I'm currently looking into testing with an SSL connection, which I'm hoping might thwart Voda's attempts to screw up my smtp traffic. :D

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This is obviously because Voda grab the SMTP traffic and re-route it to their own servers.

Well I've just connected to an smtp server via my vodafone usb modem and tried sending an email using raw commands so I could see if vodafone were messing with the data. The traffic wasn't redirected to any vodafone smtp servers, the auth was successful, and the email was sent. I'll give it a try with my phone sim in a minute, just in case data sims are routed differently to phone sims.

Edit: same thing with a phone sim. Works perfectly.

Edited by woogal
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My smtp server accepts connections on another port, and I've tried that, but I think the port number is being ignored. I'm currently looking into testing with an SSL connection, which I'm hoping might thwart Voda's attempts to screw up my smtp traffic. :D

You cant change the port re SMTP (25) on win mobile, the same with activesync mail re port 80 for http or https 443, however the SSL SMTP port is 465 which vodafone wont be able to interfere with as its SSL. The connection will be secure between the client and the server.

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Woogal - have you looked at nmap on your laptop? So if you try something along the lines of nmap -p 25 your.smtp.server do you get:

Starting Nmap 4.52 ( http://insecure.org ) at 2008-04-30 20:14 BST

Interesting ports on your.server:

PORT STATE SERVICE

25/tcp filtered smtp

Jon

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Well I've just connected to an smtp server via my vodafone usb modem and tried sending an email using raw commands so I could see if vodafone were messing with the data. The traffic wasn't redirected to any vodafone smtp servers, the auth was successful, and the email was sent. I'll give it a try with my phone sim in a minute, just in case data sims are routed differently to phone sims.

Edit: same thing with a phone sim. Works perfectly.

Thank god, someone with logic.

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Thank god, someone with logic.

I suspect, although I could be wrong, that Voda may treat tethered connections differently to direct SMTP connections from phone handsets.

However, the facts of the matter are that:

1. My smtp server has worked flawlessly for > 8 years from my PC

2. My smtp server worked fine from my previous WM handset over O2

3. My smtp server works flawlessly when I access it over wifi

4. My smtp server is horribly unreliable and fails randomly when I connect to it over Voda's gprs network.

5. Vodafone tell me in several emails (read them yourself, they're just up there ^^^) that I should use send.vodafone.net, but without any explanation as to why I would want to do this when I have my own smtp servers.

I think anyone with an ounce of logic can see where the problem lies here.

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5. Vodafone tell me in several emails (read them yourself, they're just up there ^^^) that I should use send.vodafone.net, but without any explanation as to why I would want to do this when I have my own smtp servers.

Well, I don't know about any of the other points but here's the thing. It's their network. Sometimes you have to get over these things. T-mobile do the same thing, hell, my ISP won't let me outbound on 25 either. It's a shame the client on Windows Mobile doesn't let you change the port, as I just send from 255 instead now.

Have you tried SSL?

Edited by lozzd
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here's the thing. It's their network. Sometimes you have to get over these things.

It's a shame the client on Windows Mobile doesn't let you change the port, as I just send from 255 instead now.

Have you tried SSL?

Well, here's the thing. Vodafone sold me a contract with a handset which they marketed as having the ability to connect over GPRS and Wi-fi. I don't think anyone would class it as reasonable to have to switch SMTP server/settings each time I walk in off the street and into my house or a Starbucks with wifi. A few years ago, maybe, but these days, no way.

I've got a mate with an SSL-enabled SMTP server, and so I'm hoping to try that. I just wish WM honoured the server:port protocol for SMTP servers.

On the upside, the new version of PhoneAlarm (2.0, currently in Beta) will support profile-based SMTP server settings, so I may actually be able to set it up so that it switches from send.voda.net to my normal smtp server when I switch on Wifi. Which is nice.

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