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Sendy is Beautiful... Amazon SES, not so much...
  • After a month of working with amazon ses and sendy I finally got to a point I could send 50K email daily, and as soon as I was going to switch over many other customers, they simply blocked my account with no explanation at all, just because... this is what I just posted on their forums after making up my mind and deciding a business cannot rely on the mood of the day at amazon... this is what I posted there:

    You know guys, on second thought I have found Amazon SES to be totally unreliable for running a business based on your platform, let me explain why:

    After meeting all the quality requirements when sending, achieving zero rejections, bounces, etc (as seen on the enclosed screenshot here taken from data coming straight from Amazon SES) and reaching a level of 50K daily emails, suddenly they simply yank away access and block everything.

    I request an explanation and it takes 24 hours to receive a very vague reply like this:

    "Thank you for you for your email. I've researched your account and it appears your access to Amazon SES has been blocked. If you'd liked to appeal this block, please contact the SES team directly by writing to ses-support@amazon.com.

    In your request, please explain in detail either why you believe the suspension itself was not correct and the changes you have made to ensure that the same issue does not occur again. Your appeal will be handled by our investigation team.

    I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused."

    Now if I have DONE NOTHING WRONG at all and I am requesting an explanation of what happened and the reason for the suspension when my records (and their logs) show that I or my customers have done nothing wrong because I simply would not let them, you can see the answer is totally useless, their customer service idea is like a police department asking people to go to their front desk and start declaring possible offenses they might have or not commited until the officer says: aha!! that is the offense we were hoping you turned yourself in!

    We are not engaged in any UCE, SPAM or the like, we simply send out email bulletins and news for non profit organizations like some schools. We already had 4 customers signed up for the service and were expecting to switch another 30 organizations on board, but the fact that amazon can at their will pull the plug on you without any previous warning or explanation really does not convince me to run a business based on their infrastructure.

    Maybe the technical part is a marvel but the customer service part is really really lousy, to overcome this problem and get my affected customers back on track I decided to open separate accounts for them, and then I receive an email stating that I cannot open any accounts because they are linked to a blocked account, so practically this is useless.

    I made up my mind and I am switching over to mandrill.com, maybe they are 3-4 times more expensive but they seem to be 10 or 20 times more reliable since they are in the business of providing email services, not a bunch of services with no reliability on the customer service department.

    At least I am happy this happened now that I had only 4 customers signed up and not when I had the 30 on board, I cannot imagime the amount of calls and pissed customers I would have from all the schools that could not get their information on time...

    My advice: unless you are a large corporation and willing to pay the additional customer service fees, SES is totally not reliable because at any moment they will take your entire business away and without giving you a reason at all other than "we are sorry, please make up a reason that you consider made us block you and then we will see if you deserve to come back to our service" and this could take up to 4 days to solve at their current answer times...

    So there you have it, Sendy is a beautiful piece of software but the way amazon is behaving regarding SES, will end up hurting sales for Ben, which really has gone out of his way to provide an exceptional software and service at such a great price. Food for thought...

  • 18 Comments
  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    Hi @adavila78,

    I'm sorry this happened to you. And thanks for your kind words about Sendy.

    Amazon may be a huge corporation but the people are real. I've personally spoke to the people behind Amazon SES, Chris Wheeler (Senior Technical Program Manager), Josh Sanderson (Business Development Manager) and one of the developers of SES himself. They are all real and helpful people. They're all human like you and me and it's very unlikely they would suspend someone's account just because they can or want to. And there is a reason why Amazon recently beat Apple as the most trusted company in the U.S. (news dated yesterday).

    SES is totally not reliable because at any moment they will take your entire business away and without giving you a reason at all

    The number of users whom I know who have their account suspended can be counted with one hand. I logged in to many users' Sendy accounts before and sometimes I see very high daily quotas, up to 5 million per day.

    I understand you are not a spammer but there are times we all do things without knowing something may be wrong or inappropriate. One way to find out is by finding clues in Amazon SES's email best practice whitepaper to see what may have been the reason for your suspension.

    I also won't rule out the possibility of a mistake on your suspension, but before we confirm that, allow me to ask a few questions:

    • Did you purchase your list or did all your subscribers opt-in to receive your emails? Where is the source of your list(s)?
    • How often do you send emails to them?
    • How many emails were sent in your last campaign and what is the bounce and complaint rates? I understand you said zero bounces but that's impossible unless you're only sending to a few people, so I want to get an idea.
    • Can you attach a web version link of your last campaign before you got suspended?

    I actually left your previous discussion open for about a week with some unanswered questions and never receive a reply - http://sendy.co/discussion/614/has-amazon-refused-to-increase-your-sending-limits#Item_7

    Looking forward to your reply at least for these questions.

    Thank you.

    Ben

  • Hi Ben, let me answer your questions

    -My list are only students and their families straight from the schools databases

    -Once or twice a week at most

    -Last campaign was sent on friday evening, close to 10K mails, 0 bounces, 0 reject, 0 complaints only one dropped suscriber

    -This is the link to my campaign, let me know if you cannot see it http://www.replifier.com/sendy/w/1c

    Let me reply to your questions on the other discussion, I was out of town for a week.

    Regards Antonio

  • Well the other thread was closed but yes, I am totally honest on where my suscribers come from, I strictly enforce the no spamming policy to my school customers, anyway Amazon has not accepted my appeal it seems, so it was good to know that happened with 4 schools and not 30 at least...

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    Thanks for your answers @adavila78,

    My list are only students and their families straight from the schools databases

    I understand your subscribers are obtained from schools databases. Do these recipients know they may receive emails from you?

    Thanks.

    Ben

  • Totally at all, they have been receiving emails from the past 2 years and they can opt out at any time, we just happened to switch email service providers, let me be clear, I understand Amazon need to protect their integrity and services, what I totally hate is the fact that they do not give you clear feedback on their reasons to help you comply, they only boot you and hope you figure it out, which leaves you completely without a clue, anyway I am using Mandrill since yesterday with our older mailing list platform and our email quality grade according to them is 100% so we achieved max sending speed in a maximum of 7 hours, yet Amazon still blames Sendy for not providing me the proper stats, this is what I got after attaching a Sendy screenshot:

    "Your own metrics don't indicate this, so I suspect that there is some disconnect about how you are calling GetSendStatistics and processing those responses."

    That's the story...

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    @adavila78, what metrics did you show them? Bounces and complaints?

  • Yup, this one exactly: http://screencast.com/t/3Eg0kujT

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    @adavila78,

    Alright, I think I know what the problem is.

    But first, I need to know - Do you always see 0 bounces and 0 complaints in Sendy (not SES console) when you send out any campaigns?

  • No, not always, that was working perfectly, sometimes I saw 15-25 at most, my bounces only went close to 10% during a mailing we did about two weeks ago, but never 12% as they claimed... complaints where 3 or 4 at most...

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    @adavila78 Can you PM me your installation URL, email and password so I can take a look?

    Thanks.

    Ben

  • Done Ben, thanks!

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    Hi @adavila78,

    I just talked to the SES team directly regarding your case. Now I have the full story on why this is happening.

    Amazon suspended your account because your bounce rates were at 15%, which is incredibly high. That's fine 'per se', because if bounces were setup as described in our Get Started Guide, the next time you send a campaign to the same list, emails will not be sent to this 15% of bounced emails.

    But the problem was, bounce notifications were not setup in your SNS console as well as your verified emails in SES console (see Get Started Guide step 7).

    So your bounce rates didn't improve each time you send out a newsletter.

    I logged in to check with the credentials you've sent me. There was a total of 15 campaigns sent from a total of 4 sending emails. And none of which had bounces registered. Your bounces shows '0' in all 15 campaigns which is a red flag. That spells bounces wasn't setup in your SNS and SES console.

    Failure to setup bounces in SNS and SES (as laid out in our Get Started Guide) breaks the feedback loop hence bounces wasn't registered in your Sendy installation. With bounces not being registered, you unknowingly continue to send more emails to emails that bounced, hence not being able to bring down your bounce rates.

    If bounces were setup, your bounce rates would have improved and won't lead you to being suspended.

    To conclude, this looks like an honest mistake of not setting up registration of bounces.

    I will also see where I can put this message somewhere in the application to inform users that setting up bounces and complaints are important, failure to do so may result in AWS account suspension.

    Ben

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    I have requested Josh from SES to restore your account as this is more or less an honest mistake. The SES team will evaluate and look into it.

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    @adavila78,

    One of Amazon's representative has replied me, here's the message:

    He should be able to submit an appeal by replying to the suspension notice we sent him. If he assures us that he understands what happened, has corrected the problem, and it won't happen again, then we would generally reinstate if this was a first offense.

    I'm sure you've understood by now, why your account was suspended. Please submit an appeal and explain to them your understanding and your account will be restored.

    Ben

  • Hi Ben thanks for your help in dealing with this, not to rain on you, but I did in fact configure the SNS exactly as you mentioned in your startup guide, here you can see an screenshot of the SNS configuration I used for bounces:

    http://screencast.com/t/DdxTjAa5gtm

    Too bad that Amazon does not specify the date they were created, otherwise you would see they were set for the SES services, the fact that it shows 0 is because as soon as they bounced or were marked as spam I personally deleted them from the account in order to avoid any customer being "tempted" to send again to those addresses no matter what.

    You can see I set them up correctly if you check this campaing were it shows that I had them set properly where this single email is marked as spam, two weeks ago:

    http://screencast.com/t/ruBXp6mo3O

    If I did not set them up correctly as you say, then this one simply would not appear in there...

    I am not trying to blame you, I am simply saying something failed and I never received the notifications during this mailing, because for all the other customers the bounces and rejects were processed perfectly except for this last one campaign that damaged everything...

  • I already contacted them at that email address and this is part of our new rules to comply with high quality email:


    What are we doing on our end to avoid embarrasing situations like this happening in the future?

    1) We are modifying our copy of Sendy such that our customers have no way to bulk import email lists, we will upload them from our end, this is to avoid another situation like this one where somebody somewhere messed the list and then sent the emails right away resulting in a service suspension from Amazon not only to them, but to all of our customers.

    2) Before allowing any list to mail, we will personally check them via Email checker service (www.email-checker.com), for all our current customers we already paid a monthly suscription where we already cleaned all our actual lists. Future schools will have to pay this verification fee for all their lists before being allowed to email anything out.

    3) The first 5 mailings will be performed by someone from our team while we train the school's person responsible for sending emails via our platform, to make sure they properly understand how to operate, we believe that steps 1 and 2 will suffice, but we want to make sure we cover all ends to avoid anything like this from remotely happening.


    Hope they are pleased with our plan...

    Regards Antonio

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    Hi @adavila78,

    You can see I set them up correctly if you check this campaing were it shows that I had them set properly where this single email is marked as spam, two weeks ago: http://screencast.com/t/ruBXp6mo3O

    If I did not set them up correctly as you say, then this one simply would not appear in there...

    I was actually referring to bounces. I know you have complaints setup correctly and Amazon does not have issues with your complaint rate. But bounces not being setup properly is the issue.

    Can you check the Feedback Details of every verified email in your SES console to see if Bounces SNS Notification has been set to a 'bounces SNS topic'?

    Thanks.

    Ben

  • Vote Up0Vote Down BenBen
    Posts: 3,489Sendy support

    I understand that your Amazon SES account has been reinstated as you're starting to send emails again via Amazon SES using Sendy.

    I just want to close this thread in case anyone is reading it by concluding that Amazon does not make things difficult by suspending user's account at their whim. There is always a story behind why things happen the way it did.

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