back to article Snafu! BT funnels all customers' sent email into one poor sod's inbox

The UK's biggest broadband provider BT redirected its customers' outgoing emails to a single account for three hours on Tuesday. The telco said the flooded inbox was an internal account it uses for test purposes and not a random unlucky subscriber. While BT did not provide details on the reason for the disruption, it appears …

  1. Lord Schwindratzheim

    Keep your e-mail seperate

    You see this is why you should never use your ISP's email - set up your own somewhere else with 123-REG for instance.

    Oh, wait...

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Keep your e-mail seperate

      I know, I know


    2. TheVogon

      Re: Keep your e-mail seperate

      " "I have supported 28 million email accounts and 80 million emails per day.""

      And from 1 inbox too....

      1. Dr Who

        Re: Keep your e-mail seperate

        Sounds like BT have taken swift action. "I have supported 28 million ..... And now? I am sitting at home polishing my LinkedIn profile".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sorry for all the spam I signed you up for

  3. Dwarf Silver badge

    Does he work for the Government ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      #IPBill ... ?

      It seems one insider at BT can intercept & redirect all customers email to a random address, and Mark Hughes (BT Group Security boss) remains oblivious for 3 hours.

      But yet he tells MPs he can be trusted to store the UK's browsing traffic for 12 months securely?

      BT's Group Security Officer has new clothes. And they're somewhat transparent.

      1. Vimes

        Re: #IPBill ... ?

        It's not just now that BT's behaviour has been problematic either. Remember ACS:Law and the problems BT had sending out details unencrypted? Then there's their email accounts previously being hacked, Phorm, and god knows what else.

        How in hell do they keep on having problems like that but never seem to face the music?

        1. That_Guy

          Re: #IPBill ... ?

          Too big to fail.

          All essential telecoms infrastructure and operating practices should be centrally managed and regulated to the teeth. All customer relations should then be managed by limited access (m)vno's be that for pots, isp's or mobile. Companies can then bid to work on local systems, with mandatory competition and be performance reviewed.

          The /gooberment/ can still sink it's treacherous claws in, and we all get accountability and standard operating practices.

          But no, we have this monopolistic sham where we have to put up and shut up.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: #IPBill ... ?

          How in hell do they keep on having problems like that but never seem to face the music?

          But they are facing the music, and in the designated manner: at this very moment they are being spanked by the invisible hand of the free market. Or so I'm told.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: #IPBill ... ?

        Hughes doesn't know one end of an mail server from another. He'll just rip someone a new one, or more likely get a subaltern to do the dirty work.

  4. MGJ

    Not Just That

    Yesterday I had the problem that the sub accounts on my main address were all being polled at the same time as the main one. Those are used by my kids who don't get what 'spam filters' are for, so masses of ancient spam and adverts flooded into my mailbox. Happens every so often but not for a year or so.

  5. Commswonk

    Once they've got this sorted out...

    ...they might like to try to find out why emails sent by some users with TT accounts (including those with ISPs gobbled up by TT) sometimes never get to recipients with btinternet email addresses.

    One of life's enduring mysteries... although on second thoughts perhaps it isn't. One friend of mine who is trying to resolve this runs into blanket denials of responsibility from both ISPs.

    Snail mail might be slow but by and large it does get there.

    1. Mad Chaz

      Re: Once they've got this sorted out...

      "One friend of mine who is trying to resolve this runs into blanket denials of responsibility from both ISPs."

      I've had similar things happen before. Got tired of it at one point and FORCED a 3 way call between me and service reps from both ISP, then sat back with pop-corn as they argued with one another.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Once they've got this sorted out...

      I had a 2 month gremlin back in about 2003 with BT. Btinternet email was not working properly (either sending or receiving) with... It mostly arrived, but delays could be as long as a month. I actually got as far as BT third line support, some outside consultant rather than an internal bod who was already aware of the issue, and they resolved it.

      But I'd already resolved the problem myself, by suggesting that it was about time the company stopped using a micky-mouse ISP address, and got us a domain. Although I just got an email through on that old address last week - from a customer we've had for years, I'm amazed it's survived in his Outlook autocomplete for so long.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Once they've got this sorted out...

        I've also had an entire email account stop working with BT for over 2 or 3 years. Passwords, using the browser, using a client, nothing worked. All of a sudden, one day it started working again.

        The mind boggles.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Once they've got this sorted out...

        The bit in my post that mattered, got deleted. If I thought they were competent, I'd blame a BT conspiracy.

        The domain that btinternet emails were dropping with, and vice-versa was btconnect. Their own small business service, that one of our clients was with.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Once they've got this sorted out...

      Some domains end up banned IIRC. Has happened before that entire ISPs get knocked off a list somewhere and not allowed through.

  6. BT Customer

    BT messes up big time AGAIN.

    I'm sure Mark Hughes of BT can explain it all next time he appears before a parliamentary committee. Meanwhile, we can wait for the ICO to wring their hands and do absolutely nothing about it. Again. Let's just admit it - BT's email is not fit for purpose - either the Yahoo! offering they are supposed to be ditching (and can't) and the new cloud offering called BTMail that is going badly wrong too.

    They put DPI kit in the network for Phorm, their Beta forums leaked like sieves, they mess up their email migration, and now they send everyone's mail to a third party email address. Remind me again - how much were they fined for all this? Oh yes - nothing at all.

    As compenation, can we have an interview about it on Channel 4 News with that nice Emma Sanderson please? For old Phorm's sake?

    1. Vimes

      Re: BT messes up big time AGAIN.

      BT's email is not fit for purpose

      Neither is the ICO when it comes to data protection.

      It also seems that more than one member of the current BT board of directors was around during the Phorm trials?

      Sir Michael Rake confirmed at the 2008 AGM, in front of 800 shareholders, that the decision to intercept web communications was taken at board level within BT.

      1. Vimes

        Re: BT messes up big time AGAIN.

        (personally I wouldn't expect any sort of useful reply, but you never know...)

  7. Stevie


    Obvious script mistake. That should have been a BCC addressee.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Webb 2.0


  9. Medixstiff

    I wonder how much blackmail material he now has?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Probably not as much as GCHQ pick up from teenagers sexting each other.

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    That's my BT!

    1. hplasm

      That's my BT!

      Don't expect sympathy around here...

  11. Anonymous Coward

    BT and Yahoo

    I vaguely remember these names, are they still around?? I havent used them since last century.

  12. Seajay#

    UK telco BT

    Does this add anything? Is there anyone in the world who knows what a telco is but doesn't know who BT are?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: UK telco BT

      Is there anyone in the world who knows what a telco is but doesn't know who BT are?

      Doubtful but if there What a blessed life they have led.

      1. onceuponatime

        Re: UK telco BT

        So is that like phone stuff cause my Iphone connects to the interwebz in the USA. Is it Bluetooth?

        (Yes I do know what BT is in case you missed the joke alert)

  13. PeterM42

    Bunch of Tossers ( BT ) strikes again

    Perhaps they should change their corporate name?

  14. Dr. G. Freeman

    Having had access to BT e-mail systems in the dim and distant past, surprised this hasn't happened more often.

    Sounds like one of the drones decided to not use Oneview (internal program for getting customer details, and send things to fixing people) and went to the older SMART one, which if used incorrectly can do major damage/fun (like sending 100 routers to someone you don't like on your last day, or deleting the command to bill someone) and then committed it across the whole system.

    Would take about seven or so logins, easy enough if been there across a few desks for a number of years, and using a script to copy over information from one to another.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thanks for the info...

      I wonder if it was SMART when a BT trainee accidentally deleted an ISP off of the system...

      (PS, no that is not a typo. I do mean the *entire* ISP and not just one line/customer.)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I sent my condolences to Steve along with a few tips for interviewing for his new job. It hasn't bounced.

  16. Just Enough

    ""I have supported 28 million email accounts and 80 million emails per day.""

    This is taking hands-on support to a whole new level! Does he read/spam filter/spellcheck every single one personally?

    1. Camilla Smythe

      Does he read/spam filter/spellcheck every single one personally?

      Nah! Don't be silly. He has a Dash Board for that sort of shit.

  17. Quentin North

    Sounds like a data breach to me.

    I don't know who Steve Webb is, but he sure shouldn't have access to my email. Someone should call the ICO.

  18. Christoph
    Black Helicopters

    Whoops, wrong address

    Sorry about that folks, it should of course have all been redirected to

  19. AndrueC Silver badge

    My Dad's emails to me sometimes vanish into a void. Then two weeks later he gets a weird bounce that says something about a queue timing out. My mail server logs show no SMTP traffic originating from BT/Yahoo servers on these occasions. I also never have problems with any other sources. I spoke to BT about it once and even played the 'He's 80 years old and I need reliable contact with him' but to no avail. I was told it was an internal server issue and 'these things just happen sometimes'. They actually recommended that I set up a GMail account for him.

    Clearly they don't have any 'loveable but stuck in a groove' elderly relatives yet. I'd rather not force him to learn something new just because they are incompetent. I'm still struggling to reprogram his telephone use so that he tries my mobile if he gets my answering machine. I doubt I'll ever get him to try my mobile first but you have to start somewhere. He's one of the few people I always want to speak to :(

    1. sed gawk Silver badge

      Re: elderly relative

      Might I recommend Vonage, they do a landline number which will redirect to your mobile, if someone leaves you a message, you get it emailed.

      I pay about 12Quid a month IIRC too lazy to check.

      No affiliation, just a customer.

    2. Seajay#

      I've had that happen too. Both emails in to and out of BT seem to time out or generate an undeliverable response (but often they are delivered anyway).

      BT's refreshingly honest response of "don't use BT for email" seems like the best option.

  20. Vic

    Perhaps my tinfoil is on too tight...

    ...But this looks remarkably like a test of a data slurp - why else would you re-address outgoing email?


    1. Vimes

      Re: Perhaps my tinfoil is on too tight...

      Perhaps somebody ought to set up a few dummy accounts and send all sorts of goatse-related emails from one dummy account to another. Maybe add a few copies of 'Two Girls One Cup' into the mix too.

      It won't stop them from seeing the contents of said emails, but at least they'll go blind when they do...

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    More efficiency and cost saving from out sourcing!

    When they said outsourcing would bring more efficiency and cost savings, they meant to breakage.

    Outsourcing companies can break things cheaper and faster than in house.

  22. teacake

    BT POP3

    I've had a BT POP3 box since forever. I know I should set up my own elsewhere but I've got the best part of 20 years' interactions via that address. This latest problem comes on top of the fact that BT seem to go through phases of just silently dropping about 25% of incoming mail. And they have the cheek this month to tell me they are more than tripling the monthly fee for this POP3 box.

    I think it may be long past time for a change...

    1. Seajay#

      Re: BT POP3

      POP3? Not even IMAP?

      It's a lot easier than you think to make the change and everything up to step 7 is risk free and reversible.

      1) Set up new email, either buy a domain or just use gmail /

      2) Set new email server to fetch your BT email (leaving a copy on the server)

      3) Allow new email server to send mail as

      Optional) Add new email server in to your mail client (as IMAP) and upload all your folders to it.

      Now you can use the new email server exclusively and disable the BT account in your email client but there is no external change.

      4) At some point in the future when you're sure you're happy with the new set up, tell people to use your new email address and set your new email server to send as

      5) Set your mail client to flag emails that are sent to so that you can correct those senders (if they aren't spam).

      6) Wait until you don't get any flagged emails.

      7) Stop paying BT.

      1. teacake

        Re: BT POP3

        Thanks for that advice, Seajay. I'll put it on my to-do list. ;-)

  23. Only me!

    As the BT advert says

    I think the ad says something like "Get what you deserve" which to be fair, if you are with BT they deliver on that promise

  24. BrokenDevice


    That's what they said... but...

    A paranoid could think that it wasn't a matter of minutes... maybe it's how it works and at some point the storage wasn't enough....

    Paranoia is ...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Not as serious?

    I'd consider copying *all* outgoing mail into the mailbox of a contractor and then owning up to it only after said contractor's data slurping script borked and the mailbox overflowed to be a tad more serious than not routing any mail at all.

    Seems like BT tries to play down the security implications. Imagine the mails would not have bounced. No one would know and Steve Webb would still have a full feed of BT mail traffic.

  26. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    In the old days...'d be asked to go to the Stores to request a Long Weight. Or the trainee postman would be asked to deliver a "Signed For" letter to 23/24 Leinster Gardens, W2.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the old days...

      '23/24 Leinster Gardens, W2.'

      How the hell could I work in London for a decade and not know about this place?

      Admittedly, I spent most of my time living around SE24 and working in EC1, but still..

      Time to update the old fake registration credentials for junk sites.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think we should all try to help BT

    by repeatedly adding this email address to all CC and BCC fields to save them the redirection

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