back to article Tiscali coughs to spam blacklisting after a week without email

Tiscali has admitted the reason many of its customers have been unable to send outgoing email for over a week is because it has been blacklisted as a spammer. According to Reg contacts, Tiscali is known in the anti-spam community as slow to act against abuse of its network. In a statement, it said: "We...have been targeted by …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Its a mockery of a sham of a shammed mockery

    We have no email ability at all regardless of who we send too, even sending to the emails go to Limbo -

    The forums are useless they have "MR Tibbs" fobbing people off left right and centre the newest claim is the "ports are blocked" what all of them?

    Its taken them so long to even slightly admit a problem and yet the status page shows the 100% on all gauges

    This is a complete P**S Take of the highest order

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are the spammers!

    During my year as a Tiscali customer I wasn't even able to stop their own weekly spam that they delivered every single week regardless of the fact that I had opted out of marketing information and regardless of the fact that I followed all procedures to unsubscribe from their "newsletter" at least 10 times.

    So how can they say that they are targeted by spammers when they are spammers themselves!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think most ISPs have

    Certainly BT were while I was working there. By some spam blacklisters anyway. The problem is that there are so many of them and they all block different people.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tiscali never give a timescale

    As a Tiscali victim I can tell you that no matter what you report in the forum they always quote "no time scales are given for problems reported through the forum".

    If you brave their telephone "support" and can handle the language barrier of English Techie -> Indian muppet with a support fob off list (this isn't a racial slur, I don't care what colour anyone is, but if you are technical support you need to be technical!), you might get a time. It won't mean anything though. the promised call back in 3-4 days just don't happen. You might hear in a week if you're lucky.

    From the complaints in the forum the general impression given is that Tiscali are pushing more and more people onto their network without the capacity (bandwidth and technical support) to handle them. The result is serious packet shaping that's been knocking MSN on and off for months. VOIP apps are unusable except at 4am, and as for online gaming, you'll get better ping from a V92.

    Oh, forget torrents, after 4 days I gave up trying to get a debian etch 5gig dvd image and just downloaded it at work overnight (in one night). Curiously my work and home connections are both 2meg adsl... The only difference is the work one is with demon.

    The infamous MrTibbs mentioned in a previous message is always saying "we've got a new bit of kit that will fix this by [insert date 4 weeks into the future here]" and when that fails to work it's always because something was missed and again it's another date 4 weeks into the future...

  5. Tim Abell

    Don't use your ISP's mail service

    Keeping your email with your ISP is a mug/newbie's game, you don't want to be prevented from leaving your lame duck ISP because all your contacts have that address.

    I suggest setting up an account with and buying a domain. That way you have control of your mail. Though I do have sympathy with all those who have found out the hard way.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If it was email blacklisting, why can't the Tiscali servers even send stuff to themselves? (e.g. cc copies to self)

    Even if they'd been stupid enough to blacklist their own server, surely whitelisting it wouldn't take long.

    Also doesn't explain why, in the days before it packed up completely, the system took days to deliver messages that did actually get through.

    So maybe blacklisting has something to do with it, but personally I suspect they just b*lloxed the system and don't know how to fix it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consumer SLAs anyone

    Seems to me with all the ISP problems these days consumes need SLAs from ISP and telcos as they are too ready to make us bear the cost of their failings. It may increase the cost slightly but at least we might have a realistic broadband market in this country rather than the cowboys who promise the earth and then simply cannot deliver.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tiscali blacklisted?

    What a load of cockamamy!

    While it's true that tiscali is probably widely blacklisted because management doesn't see spam as a problem (see, if blocklisting were really the problem, people would see evidence of tiscali's mailservers attempting to deliver mail and being told to s*d off.

    I run my own mailservers (merely because I don't trust consumer ISPs to do that adequately) and I have a sister who's a user of, who in turn have the misfortune of using use tiscali's mail infrastructure. Mails she was sending me weren't even being presented to my mailservers. They weren't leaving tiscali's network in the first place. If they were, they'd have arrived in my mailbox because my sister's e-mail address is whitelisted.

    So, either tiscali is leading its users up the garden path and trying to divert the blame away from where it lies (gross incompetence and/or inadequate hardware), or they really don't know WTF is going on. Either way round, they obviously can't be trusted, and that's all I have to know.

  9. Paul

    I suspect most people have an alternative e-mail address or two, just in case.

    But that doesn't make what Tiscali have done any better. Just because it's free doesn't mean it has to be crappy as well.

  10. Doug Holden

    Why are Tiscali still in business??

    I left Tiscali a long time ago because of their barely english speaking follow-a-flowchart (non)technical support and their amazingly elasticated think-of-a-random-number-and-then-ignore-it approach to deadlines. SLAs would be nice and i suspect that tiscali and quite a few other companies would soon be out of business (hopefully!) if they ever tried to stick to one.

    Tiscali is still a dirty word in this house!

  11. Rose

    Re: Don't use your ISP's mail service

    Setting up your own domain to handle email is only going to work if you also have your own mailserver and the technical knowhow to run it.

    Only the geeks among us are in a position to do this at home. Even most small companies don't have the resources for it. (Mind you, on this latter part I hope to be proved wrong and paid handsomely for setting up and running several such systems for SMEs in my area.)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Why are Tiscali still in business??

    Doug Holden writes: "barely english speaking follow-a-flowchart (non)technical support [...] amazingly elasticated think-of-a-random-number-and-then-ignore-it approach to deadlines."

    That sounds like almost every consumer-grade ISP I can think of...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Domestic Tiscalu users

    For the domestic, home, user Tiscali produces a basic, good and inexpensive service.

    Unfortunately, when things go wrong my experience is that the domestic, home, user is going to be left up the Swanee without a means of propulsion. At that point Tiscali's expensive (0870) phone support couldn't find their rear ventilation panel with both hands. (And if you don't use their supplied modem, don't even bother trying: As to a router, it's almost worth phoning to hear the gasps of shock over the phoneline).

    It's a great inexpensive service for the technically competent casual user- only.

    Which probably leaves 90% of their users....... stuffed.

  14. Sceptical Bastard

    Is there a good ISP - discuss

    Bulldog was an absolute con. BT is run by vultures (no offence, El Reg). PlusNet is useless. And now I read that Tiscali (a company whose past utterances and ambitions made my teeth grate) inflicts email hell on its lusers.

    So, is there such a thing as a decent ISP - that is, a business the actually _provides_ an acceptable and reliable internet service?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About that mailserver Rose...

    Rose wrote: Setting up your own domain to handle email is only going to work if you also have your own mailserver and the technical knowhow to run it.

    No you don't. Google, Pair, and plenty of other hosting providers provide you with an effective and simple mail hosting solution. Spam filtering? No problem. Don't want any filtering at all? No problem.

    Some are better than others, and most are worth the extra dosh (even as a small business - I should know, I run one).

  16. Phil

    Experience counts

    I signed up with Demon a long time ago - something like 15 years. In the early days of Internet/email growth they did have some problems keeping up with increasing demand, but I guess they learned. I can't remember the last time there was a network related problem, or when I last had to phone support. Of course I have been tempted by cheaper offers, but then there's always a story like this to bring me back to the real world.

  17. Richard Kay

    You get what you pay for

    Don't ever buy or recommend ISP service on price alone, or you are likely to get an ISP where anyone with any competence left a long time ago, replaced by incompetent managers with incompetent new hires. This seems to be the reason why such reports exist of large ISPs unable to run their networks or support lusers effectively. The better support and customer satisfaction ratings seem to come from the smaller ISPs.

    There also seems to be no shortage of web technology training courses, but hardly anyone offering anything equivalent on managing email servers. Anyone who has ever tried to digest the Sendmail bat book is likely, like me to be asking for clearer manuals on the subject. But I would expect someone doing this professionally to be able to do the job better than amateurs, and as such I have been running a DIY server for a few years supporting a number of mailing lists for hundreds of users without losing many messages or having more than a few hours downtime.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to mess up dns round robin and mx records

    have 6 different mx records all same priority point at 6 A records that all point to the same 6 servers.


    I wouldn't be surprised if email is looping about then getting bucketed after 5 days. where are the 4 hour warning going.

    -bash-3.00$ dig mx

    ; <<>> DiG 9.2.4 <<>> mx

    ;; global options: printcmd

    ;; Got answer:

    ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 54549

    ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 6, AUTHORITY: 2, ADDITIONAL: 2


    ; IN MX

    ;; ANSWER SECTION: 900 IN MX 10 900 IN MX 10 900 IN MX 10 900 IN MX 10 900 IN MX 10 900 IN MX 10


    ;; ADDITIONAL SECTION: 167206 IN A 597739 IN A

    ;; Query time: 16 msec

    ;; SERVER:

    ;; WHEN: Wed May 30 15:23:00 2007

    ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 240

    -bash-3.00$ host has address has address has address has address has address has address

    -bash-3.00$ host has address has address has address has address has address has address

    -bash-3.00$ host has address has address has address has address has address has address

    -bash-3.00$ host has address has address has address has address has address has address

    -bash-3.00$ host has address has address has address has address has address has address

    -bash-3.00$ host has address has address has address has address has address has address


    and if you do a lookup on dns stuff you will see that none are listed.

    This assumes incoming email and outgoign email go through the same server.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One problem

    One minor problem with their story - Tiscali's webmail system can still send and receive - it's just the clients that can't send! Surely if tiscali was blacklisted neither clients nor webmail could send?

  20. prathlev

    Re: How to ... DNS

    Now THAT's funny. :-) Seriously haven't seen anything like that before. Talk about making rocket science out of somthing basic.

    Almost makes today's stress (someone forgot paying the ~£4 it takes for out LIR to keep our primary infrastructure domain alive) seem like a vacation.


  21. Ian Wild

    At least we fessed up :-)

    You can certainly (rightfully) criticise us for our technical issues (or cock-ups if you prefer), but I think it's unfair to be bringing PlusNet into this one. We at least never tried to hide things from customers and are prepared to explain what's going on to our customer base and to anyone else that cares to listen.


    PlusNet Product Team

  22. Morely Dotes

    Malicious? Incompetent? Tiscali!

    "While it's true that tiscali is probably widely blacklisted because management doesn't see spam as a problem (see, if blocklisting were really the problem, people would see evidence of tiscali's mailservers attempting to deliver mail and being told to s*d off."

    Not necessarily. Tiscali may be like a number of other spam-friendly ISPs, which deliberately send non-delivery reports to Bit Heaven, rather than giving them to the users, since a fair few of the users may be able to understand that a "553 Piss Off, Tiscali spammer" might in fact indicate that Tiscali *is* the problem.

    Of course, having your own server and looking at the logs to find that Tiscali hasn't even made a delivery attempt is a bit more conclusive. That wouldn't work here; I've firewalled Tiscali, rather than blocking only Port 25. Malicious attacks may come on any port, and Tiscali is an embodiment of the principal: "Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

    I don't care whether they are malicious or merely incompetent; my servers and my customers are protected in either event.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I found my mail from Freeserve/Wanadoo/Orange was being blocked.

    Looking at the blocking reply there was a frequent mention of Spamcop who apparently supplied a list of spam addresses to ISPs. I signed up with Spamcop for £16.46/year and now route my outgoing mail, via a different port than my normal ISP, through Spamcop.

    Absolute joy. Mail to Aol, Supanet and Webtv gets straight through. Not being very technical I am grateful to find something easy to setup and reliable.

  24. Stu

    Is there a good ISP? - yes, there is

    Zen Internet. Yes, £25 a month might seem pricey compared with some of the "big names", but you get what you pay for - technical support people that know what they're talking about for starters.

    And I can wholeheartedly back up Tim Abel's suggestion - I've been using for 3 years now, and my account has been down for a paltry 1 hour over 3 years - and they were giving status updates (including brief technical information regarding the cause of the problem) every 10-15 minutes during the outage, and after an hour failed-over to a redundant server. 99.996% uptime is pretty good over a 3 year period.

  25. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Male reproductive organs !

    Tiscali's claim that it's to do with blacklisting is a load of bol^H^Hrubbish. I run my own mail server and would be able to see delivery attempts in the logs if this blacklisting story were true. The FACT is that there are no delivery attempts, so their mail system is clearly "not working correctly".

    As to running your own mail server, I suspect that Tiscali may be one of those that blocks outbound SMTP - and if that's the case then the whole idea of sending your own mail is a non starter. Add to that the 'interesting' things done by the likes of AOL to what they consider third class netizens and you can be in for a tough time.

    I'm with Plusnet. They aren't perfect (I've had some 'interesting' exchanges with their support), but they are fairly reliable, not overpriced, and they are open about their problems.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ISPs being blocked

    @ Morely:

    Nice to see you still alive and kicking, although your current silence in NANA* is probably the wisest thing to do given the circumstances.

    When I mentioned that people would see evidence of tiscali-sourced mail being rejected, I meant mailserver admins seeing delivery attempts rather than end-lusers receiving cryptic (to them) DSNs. I should have been more explicit.

    As for other spam-friendly ISPs feeding said DSNs to Dave Null, I had evidence that wanadoodoo/orange was doing that a while ago. That's pretty rich coming from an organization that sends out boatloads of backscatter in response to mail sent to unknown users.

    The whole industry is about to enter meltdown. Consumer ISPs are never looking further than the ends of their noses and they're cutting the cost of subscription plans to the bone because consumers will almost always fall for the cheapest deal. So, they have to cut operating costs. Any "unnecessary" expenditure has to cease. This means that they can no longer hire competent personnel. It also means that the abuse desk of the ISP has to go because it's the only post that costs money and never brings any in - on the contrary, its job is to cut off paying customers who don't adhere to the ISP's TOS/AUP, thus *reducing* the ISP's revenue.

    The end result is a collection of dirt cheap ISPs that are badly managed and are emitting gigabytes of spam every day. If this carries on, nobody is going to be able to send mail out of their own network because everyone else is going to be blocking it. Furthermore, as long as consumers are unwilling to pay "over the odds" for Internet connectivity, there's no reason this should ever change.

    What I'd like to know is why magazines like "Which?", which publish studies of ISPs so that consumers can make informed choices, *NEVER* tackle the spam side of things. They always mention things like available bandwidth, price, equipment supplied, contract commitments etc., but always fail to mention minor details like "oh, BTW, you'll never be able to send e-mail to users of other networks because this one is a spam sewer that's blocked to hell and back by any postmaster with half a brain." It's not as if that information is hard to find if you know where to look (and people doing write-ups of ISPs *should* know where to look if they're worth their salt).

  27. Chris Miller

    Is there a good ISP?

    I can recommend Nildram. On the rare occasions that I've had a problem their friendly (UK-based) tech support have sorted it out swiftly and efficiently. And they don't cost anything like £25 a month.

    Now as long as Pipex don't screw them up ... (fingers crossed)

  28. Mr Andrew Soper


    Out of all the ISP's I have used (pipex, bulldog, BT, Virgin) plusnet have been the most efficient, most technically competent and provide the most comprehensive service, seems a shame to tar them with the same brush as tiscalli. Just a shame BT bought them really, but let see how it pans out. Gee I still remember the six months it took me to cancel bulldog, seems like only yesterday I was ringing them 3 times a day demanding my money back, or the 12 days I went without a home phone, or the 11 incorrect bills, or the 7 months that the people who bought my house could not get broadband for, because bulldog would not disconnect it, and let them have their own supplier......

  29. Law


    "You can certainly (rightfully) criticise us for our technical issues (or cock-ups if you prefer), but I think it's unfair to be bringing PlusNet into this one. We at least never tried to hide things from customers and are prepared to explain what's going on to our customer base and to anyone else that cares to listen.


    PlusNet Product Team"

    Bollocks!! One day my downloads from an external newshost server went from being full speed to less than 4k...... 2 weeks and many phonecalls later you're incompetant support team said "oh yeah, we downgrade you to a bronze service if you go over a couple of gig usenet use... it shouldnt effect normal internet use".... without notice and the option to leave when you did change the server I was forced to leave to the cost of £200!! Your customer service claimed I was making things up, didnt know what I was talking about, and was lying about not receiving an email detailing the change to service a few months earlier. I was so pissed off at you I made sure all my friends and family left too (obviously, I was technical enough to do that one! :o )...

    The only ISP I like these days has been Be... and even they have their problems from time to time (less than many others I tried though).... but at least their support team actually know what they are talking about (at least the ones I talked to).... and unlike a few other "hey, we are the fastest (if you live 2cm from the exchange) AHEM" - they give you a guesstimate at the realistic speeds you will receive for your £24 a month when you order, so you can decide not to go for the up to 24mb for £24 bargain! ... and they were spot on with my 11mb-12mb. :)

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