back to article BT's Plusnet shows Google how it's done as email woes enter their third day

Customers of BT tentacle Plusnet are still finding themselves without email after issues with the service entered a third day. Problems kicked off on 10 November, according to the status page, when the internet service provider said: "Some customers may be experiencing difficulties when logging into their Plusnet email account …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Stuck with it

    "It seems that the days of free email as a perk from your ISP are rapidly ending"

    Except that in my case it's not a perk. Plusnet have prevented me using my own externally hosted SMTP servers, so I have to use their open relay.

    1. Mishak Silver badge

      Re: Stuck with it

      When did they introduce that policy? I was with them for years (until earlier this year when I switched as they don't offer full-fibre) and never had trouble using my own server.

      1. pmb00cs

        Re: Stuck with it

        They added their Static IP address blocks to an internet block list for IP addresses that shouldn't be hosting email some time back. I was a customer of plusnet at the time, and moved to hosting my emails on linode hosted VMs. Based on the blog post I made at the time it would have been around 2017.

        I am no longer a plusnet customer. I now use Zen as my ISP. Although that move had nothing to do with email blocking.

        1. devin3782

          Re: Stuck with it

          Some ISP's place you behind CGNAT too my current ISP has so I'm unable to run any services until they implement my static ip address.

        2. CountCadaver Silver badge

          Re: Stuck with it

          That seems to gave been a jump from the frying pan into the fire....I'm with Zen and currently looking for pastures new due to the non existentence of technical staff with a clue......trying to get them to contact Openreach is like pulling teeth.....

    2. dave 81

      Re: Stuck with it

      I am with plusnet, and don't have to do that. Then I did pay the 5 squid at the start for a static IP.

    3. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Stuck with it

      so I have to use their open relay.

      Just for clarity it is only open from within the PN network. I was with them several years ago and had no problems running my own mail server. It's possible that I might have had to ask them to clear port 25 initially. You could also try the secure SMTP port, 587.

    4. MatthewSt

      Re: Stuck with it

      Have you checked https://www.plus.net/member-centre/broadband/firewall ?

      Plusnet have a configurable (by you) firewall at _their side of the connection_ which you can use to block ports etc.

      See https://www.plus.net/help/broadband/about-plusnets-broadband-firewall/ for details

      Edit: Might not make a difference as it's supposedly inbound connections only, but still worth a shot

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. gotes

      Re: Stuck with it

      Well that's strange. My mother uses Plusnet and has no issue sending mail through my SMTP server.

  2. cantankerous swineherd

    the more nails in emails coffin the better imo.

    1. Chris Evans

      How do you communicate?

      How do you communicate with your customers and suppliers then?

      Please don't suggest web forms or webchat. I'm sure webchat is the work of the devil.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: How do you communicate?

        And above all, don't suggest social networking.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How do you communicate?

        @Chris Evans.

        Have you heard of snailmail , telephone and fax. We junked email, and indeed our website, years ago and yet our business still functions very well. And as our production machines are never connected to the internet after initial setup, that means malware doesn't concern us.

        We were scorned mercilessly for doing such, hopefully our mockers never suffer from downtime. Smug, moi? Too right.

        Before anyone tells us of supposed security problems with the way we do things, don't bother. We are well aware of the potential pitfalls.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How do you communicate?

          Are you in the knitted teapot cover business? Or do you manufacture those dolls you cover bog rolls with?

          Your customer base must be ancient.

          I personally avoid email where I can and I too don't have a website per se but I moved on to to *more* technical sutions like WhatsApp / Telegram / Signal.

          In my line of business I find leaning on IMs allows for a better service than email.

          I would never roll backwards though.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How do you communicate?

            WhatsApp / Telegram / Signal may be suitable for some vendors but not sure how you'd contact Amazon, Ebay, solicitors, banks, health providers etc. using them.

            And that's before you get onto E2EE communication PC to PC, which is beyond the capability of most of Joe Public. Especially as GMail blocks encrypted 7zip files with filenames encrypted.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How do you communicate?

              Well Amazon and eBay are primarily contacted via their respective websites through the UI rendered in a browser...fuck all to do with email other than the notifications they send you.

              My solicitor uses Signal unless he needs to send me docs in which case he uses a specialist platform that encrypts documents and allows me to fill them in online and sign them.

              I contact my bank through their App. My wife works for a healthcare provider who can be contacted via a variety of means but the easiest is WhatsApp or Signal...they have their own app though.

              Further to this. My kids teachers...WhatsApp...the school in general...website.

              Email is the last resort in 2021. Anyone using ot for anything that is remotely confidential is a fuckwit.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Childcatcher

        Re: How do you communicate?

        >> the more nails in emails coffin the better imo.

        > How do you communicate with your customers and suppliers then?

        Nigh on unintelligibly. When a man is tired of capitalisation and basic grammar, a man is tired of life (and probably engaged in a fruitless search for his marbles).

  3. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    To be fair to PlusNet

    Their finances seem stretched to the point that they can't afford Jason Manford to do the adverts, so get the UK's #3 Jason Manford look-a-like instead - how are they meant to afford to provide a reasonably proficient and reliable email facility?

  4. katrinab Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Do people still use ISP-provided email?

    I probably skimmed over it when I was setting up my Plusnet account, but I wasn't aware they still did email. I was more concerned about doing the Spamhaus PBL stuff to enable me to use my own Exchange server.

    1. dave 81

      Exactly my thought. Use my own domain for most of my email, plus a webmail account or two. The only reason I even bother with plusnets email is because plusnet send my bill to it.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Plusnet send my bill to my own email account, not the Plusnet one.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: Plusnet send my bill to my own email account, not the Plusnet one.

          Maybe Dave doesn't want the bills to come in too quickly.

    2. Chris Evans

      We have our own domain but route emails through our ISP (Plusnet) our domain hoster only offers limited email receiving and like most people we wouldn't want to be doing our own email hosting.

      What would you suggest?

      1. Martin Summers

        "What would you suggest?"

        Anything but relying on your ISP. Go Microsoft 365 or Google Mail business. People may laugh at the idea but they're solid most of the time.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Fastmail. Easy to set up email with your own domain.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No - they're Australian.

          Therefore open to fishing expeditions by the state following recent changes to their laws.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "What would you suggest?"

        Mythic Beasts.

        1. Dinanziame Silver badge
          Devil

          I have a preference for Ratatoskr

          He is known to deliver messages to Hel and back

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can see that people took out that email offer for convenience, as I did, in early 2010s, when I was with plusnet. Then I absconded, and let go of that email (taking the contents with me), never took similar "free"offer from virgin media, just moved on to external suppliers. When I finally managed to break free from VM clutches recently, and came back to the plusnet mothership, I never bothered with plusnet email, because... no need. But yes, if one's held the same address for 10 years or so, it's hard to break free, the power of convenience. And, while setting up your own email server might be ridiculously simple to most register users, it's simply too difficult/complicated for the large majority of general public.

  5. itzumee

    They've had email issues for years now

    I've been with Plusnet since the early noughties but since around 2012, I noticed that emails took a while to arrive in my Inbox (didn't matter whether I was using their WebMail or my favourite email client), which was especially noticeable with password-reset emails, registration confirmation emails and the like, which would take at least 15 minutes to show up in my inbox. I often used my GMail account to register with websites and I'd get the confirmation email immediately, so it was obviously Plusnet's email wasn't that great. I've always used Thunderbird email client connecting to PN's IMAP server and occasionally TB would report connection issues, but it still retrieved my emails so despite that I was still happy, but when I recently started using another client (eM Client) because of it's superior filtering function making it much quicker and easier to cleanup my PN email, I found that it couldn't download all of my email from PN's IMAP server, a look at the logs showed that the IMAP server was randomly dropping the connection causing eM Client to stop what it was doing and throw it's hands up. I remembered trying to use Outlook 2019 with Plusnet a few months previously and it couldn't see any IMAP folders for my PN email except for Inbox, which I dismissed as Outlook being a POS and left it at that. A look at the eM Client forums and Plusnet Community forums revealed that many others were experiencing issues with the IMAP server connection being unexpectedly terminated, with forum posts going back to January 2021 and still the issue hadn't been fixed.

    I decided to check out a some other paid email services (I didn't want to become the product of a free email provider) and settled on FastMail because it integrates with 1Password (which I've used for years now) to provide on-the-fly masked email addresses (makes it simple to identify any websites that have sold your email address) and provides loads of other useful features, plus it lives up to it's name and "just works".

    Migrating my email from Plusnet was a doddle thanks to FastMail's import facility, though it took hours to complete because of the spurious dropped IMAP connections, but when it eventually completed, I was presented with a detailed log confirming that every email and folder had been imported. Just to be sure I eyeballed the contents of my PN IMAP folders with my FM IMAP folders just to make sure everything was there.

    So with my email "out-sourced", there's now less to keep me from migrating to another ISP, though I'm happy with my Plusnet broadband connection. Sure, email is now costing me money but it's not too expensive and I found a 25% discount link. Plus a pay upfront 1 year, 2 year or 3 year subscription saves money.

    If you're a Plusnet customer affected by their email issues, I'd recommend moving on to another email service. If you're not affected, you may well be sometime soon.

    1. gerryg

      Re: They've had email issues for years now

      I've been with Plusnet (well, I actually started on Force 9) longer than many of their support staff have been alive. It has always been well above average for internet, below average for email and shite but well intentioned for back office. But for me they are still the only game in town, but I use that annoying German company for webmail.

    2. This Side Up
      Flame

      Re: They've had email issues for years now

      Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML I wouldn't dream of sending html!

      I've been with PlusNet since Argonet shut down. Initially they were very good but they withdrew cgi-bin and scripting. Web space was 20MB but went up later. Meanwhile I hosted my sites elsewhere, except one.

      PlusNet isn't good at sorting out email problems. There is a persistent fault in which certain messages I bounce from one mailbox to another are rejected by their SMTP server as spam, although they had been delivered to me with no spam indicaion at all. I have supplied them with complete raw messages, transport layer logs and Wireshark traces but they won't sort it out.

      Their usual tactic is to tell me to use their webmail service. That is a non-starter because I download mail from the server and then delete it from the server, and I never know when a problem message is going to arrive. The error report says the body of the message has been rejected, and progressive deletion of bits of the message which eventually works. Sometimes just deleting the html part gets it through, but that is unsatisfactory. I get fed up with raising tickets which end up getting nowhere.

  6. AMB

    Not just e-mail issues ...

    It's not just email login and/or webmail access issues either.

    F9/PN hosted websites have also been suffering with intermittent access problems since Tuesday as well. It would appear that a whole bunch of HTTP/FTP/SMTP servers have gone AWOL for reason or reasons unknown ... or at least for reasons unknown to us mere mortals trying to use the service anyway. In all cases, DNS enquiries are still returning one of the two possible server IP addresses, only one of which is actually accessible and/or accepting connections and working as it should be !

    End result: Apart from any other issues there might be, there's a 50% (ish) chance of connecting to a mostly working server and 50% (ish) chance of just getting a blackhole. Quelle Surpise that it's hit 'n' miss whether something sort of works at least a little bit or doesn't work at all. SNAFU and all that.

  7. snowpages

    Not just email

    They seem to have been having problems with their internal systems too...

  8. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Plusnet emails can be accessed using an email client as an alternative.

    "using an email client as an alternative."

    As opposed to what? Are they working on the assumption that everyone uses webmail these days? Is that generally the case or is it just their customers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plusnet emails can be accessed using an email client as an alternative.

      ""using an email client "as an alternative."

      As opposed to what?"

      As opposed to Plusnet's own implementation of webmail? They offer a Squirrelmail variant and another whose parentage is less obvious.

      Plusnet seem to have had broken email servers for years, maybe even decades.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Are they working on the assumption that everyone uses webmail these days?"

      Of course. Look at the email client market. Became a very poor one. Windows built-in email client became worse and worse with each version. Windows t0 Mail is actually a joke, non an application.

      Outlook is removing many IMAP settings to ensure accessing non-Exchange servers looks bad. Thunderbird was spun off but has still design issue from its inception, really designed for a different era. Many others no longer exists or are restricted to a small niche.

      On smartphones things may be a little different because webmail is actually worse to use ion a small display and touch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Are they working on the assumption that everyone uses webmail these days?"

        And this, dear reader, is the way the Interweb died.

        People were forced to abandon vendor independent "standards" (which provided functionality AND interoperability) and instead they had to choose one family (and often one set of versions) of proprietary web-centric implementations, and stick to it.

        Many years ago, I used to reluctantly like corporate Outlook, for its email, calendaring, and other capabilities. Then I left the corporate world and Outlook became an overpriced underperforming pain.

        Last couple of years, I've been trying to like Thunderbird, but in an environment where others are using a mixture of yahoo, Gmail, and "modern" outlook, trying to interoperate that lot while preserving any kind of even the most basic formatting interoperability is a nightmare. As for calendaring, forget it.

        [A three or four different sizes of fonts. "Paste as quote". Section headings that work. Y'know, real complicated stuff.]

        What do other folks do?

        Was Loutish Notes ever this bad? Or IBM Profs?

        Bring back X.400. It could hardly be any worse than what's about to take over :(

  9. Macs1000
    FAIL

    Free email?

    "It seems that the days of free email as a perk from your ISP are rapidly ending."

    Free? A perk? No, these things never are. They are included in the fee you pay for the service.

    And since we're talking about service (or lack of it) I find it strange that Plusnet is claiming the problems started early Wednesday morning. I was unable to log into two of my accounts late Tuesday evening. A bit of honesty and openess would not come amiss!

    1. itzumee

      Re: Free email?

      They've had email issues for years, it's gotten worse this year and has come to a head more recently.

  10. Ian 55

    That's nothing

    It's been over two weeks since Amazon learnt - via customers complaining rather than actually testing the beta versions - that its Amazon Appstore doesn't work, and worse, doesn't allow apps purchased from it to run, on any device running Android 12.

    No sign of a fix, or a timetable for a fix.or a temporary version that removes the DRM in the meantime.

  11. WarwickHunt69

    My 23 years with Plusnet have been fine

    OK, so the title stretches the truth, but, I started using Free-Online dial-up in 1998, it was an 0845 number and you didn't pay any monthly fees. I stopped using their dial-up in 2000, but the e-mail account I set up still works now. It was down for a day during this outage but it's been OK since yesterday. Maybe they fixed Free-Online accounts first?! It's not my primary e-mail address of course, and I don't use their outgoing SMTP.

    So I haven't paid anything to Plusnet for 21 years. Who says there's no such thing as free?

    Also, free e-mail as a perk from your ISP isn't something people want any more.

  12. Zebo-the-Fat

    Don't use it

    I use Plusnet Fiber to the Cabinet, not had any problems at all, I don't use their email as I have used GMX mail without a problem for years (I was aware that PN email existed but never tried it)

  13. Kiss

    What has Google got to do with this?

    Poor headline or an attempt to associate Google with a failure? I just don't know as the article does nothing to elaborate. Is this a Google badged service like Virgin Media? Please revise article to clarify.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: What has Google got to do with this?

      It's referring to the briefer Gmail outage on Friday, see here.

  14. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Rule 1 for ISP Email usage

    1) Only ever use it for communication to/from said ISP.

    There are no other rules needed.

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Rule 1 for ISP Email usage

      You didn’t need that rule. You spelt “never even touch it” wrong. If they can’t be bothered to send mail to an address of your choice for the bills, find another ISP

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always use an email provider independent of your ISP

    Then you can change provider with zero hassle.

    (At least email related hassle).

  16. Ian Stewart

    Still down

    5 days and counting and mail is still not working. The so-called status updates are a joke - they give no information, just repetitive bland assurances. They can't even be bothered to issue the updates to their own schedule.

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