Amazon Are A Bunch of A-Holes

By Posted on 4 min read 1126 views

The last few days I’ve royally screwed up. Here’s what happened…

I’d noticed that email open and click-through rates were steadily dropping since the 19th June.

Usually I get around a 20% open rate, and this went down to 18%, then 15%, 10% and finally 5%.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, I couldn’t understand what was going on.

And then, last night, I get this from Amazon…

The Amazon SES sending for AWS account 042618994039, which lists you as a contact or owner, has been suspended in AWS region EU (Ireland), effective immediately.

Uh, excuse me!

It was followed by this statement of glory…

This problem is not due to bounces or complaints as measured directly by Amazon SES. Rather, a comprehensive human review of your account has found significant indicators that often lead to mailbox providers and/or anti-spam providers to classify your messages as unwanted sending. To protect our abuse detection process we do not provide specific information on the specific indications that have resulted in your account being flagged.

Let’s get this straight, my bounce rates and complaint rates are fine (they’re almost 0%) but some a-hole at Amazon has read one of my emails and decided they didn’t like it, so you’ve suspended my account (with no warning) after I’ve sent close to 10 million emails through it with no issues.

Of course, that makes perfect sense, stupid me!

To be honest I blame myself, I made a decision about six months ago to move entirely to their SES mailing service instead of my own mailers because it’s pretty darn cheap and removes the need to manage our own mail server.

But, when one of your primary industries is gambling, that’s a pretty damn stupid thing to do because everybody hates gambling, even when it’s legal in the country you work in.

After a beautifully crafted reply to them, they asked me how mailing list members would know who the email came from and how I would change my content to make me compliant with their policy.

Oh, they’re acceptable use policy was stated as this:

You may not use, or encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to use, the Services or AWS Site for any illegal, harmful or offensive use, or to transmit, store, display, distribute or otherwise make available content that is illegal, harmful, or offensive. Prohibited activities or content include activities that may be harmful to others, our operations or reputation, including offering or disseminating fraudulent goods, services, schemes, or promotions (e.g., make-money-fast schemes, ponzi and pyramid schemes, phishing, or pharming), or engaging in other deceptive practices.

What winds me up about this more than anything, is that these people don’t bother to check their own facts.

There is nothing in there about not using them for the gambling industry, what they have seen is pound signs in an email and decided we’re running some kind of make-money-fast or ponzi scheme, which is 100% wrong.

We are, of course, 100% legitimate and registered with the data protection commission in the UK, which I’ve proceeded to tell them.

As for who the email is coming from, you just want to shout at them, check the f*****g example you sent me, it comes from the same email address as all of them and has our postal address on the bottom you absolute moronic imbeciles.

Of course, my reply was far politer.

Anyhoo, I wasn’t waiting for them to change their minds.

This is my business, which has already been significantly affected and will continue to be for the next couple of weeks now.

Before I even replied to Amazon I picked up the phone to my superb hosting company, TSO Host if you want to check them out, and told them I needed a new mail server spun up super-fast.

The server was spun up and started within the hour, and they then spent two hours on the phone to me making sure all the fun things like SPF and DKIM records were setup correctly.

We’re still waiting for a couple to propogate, but basically within three hours I was able to send emails again through our own mail server.


Of course, the IP address isn’t warm so I’m going to have a few weeks of lower inbox delivery while the IP warms up and I’ve got to register with all the feedback loops today.

There is a degree of hassle with managing your own mail server, but when put against a company suddenly stopping your email for no reason and with no warning, it’s worth it.

Lesson learnt, I always say you should be in control of the most important elements of your business.

In our industry, email is our business. So if you’re not in control of the full chain from list management to sending then you can get shut down any time and it’s out of your control.


P.S. What really gets me is that these companies don’t do any research into your business or even contact you to find out if your legitimate before shutting you off.

Yup, it’s their business and they can do what the hell they like. But it still pisses me off.

P.P.S. Over the next few days I’m going to re-send the emails which Amazon started blocking, as most of you never got them!

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