A few weeks ago, I got a question from a Sandpoint-area reader:
"I'm having trouble with my mother's e-mail. Or rather, she's having trouble with mine, I guess. Whenever she sends me an e-mail, it is returned with an error message. I've been in contact with my ISP's tech support and we're trying to figure it out. A virus comes to mind, I know. I have Norton's and am current with updates. My mom, too. E-mails are scanned coming in and going out."
This sounds like a nasty problem and it is. Get ready for it to happen to you someday. Regular readers of our CC Tips e-zine may remember that I had a problem that was similar. Because of the prevalence of spam, many ISPs are using "blacklists" to block e-mail. The bad news is that it blocks GOOD e-mail. In my case, I couldn't send e-mail to my sister because the e-mail server my domain (logicalexpressions.com) was located on had been blacklisted by her ISP.
To make this more confusing, the blacklist doesn't necessarily block the domain itself, but the actual computer the mail server is located on, which can have many domains on it. Sometimes blacklists will include not only servers that have spammers on it, but also include those servers that allow "open relay" which means that spammers can run the mail through them.
Unfortunately, resolving this problem can result in a whole lot of "finger pointing." In the end, we actually had to ask our hosting company to move our mail services to another server to solve our problem. (For more information on what we did, you can read an article on that appeared in our e-zine at http://www.cc-tips.com/LPMArticle.asp?ID=164.)
So, after all this explanation, basically my advice was that if Mom's e-mail is bouncing back to her, the daughter's ISP may be blocking mail from Mom's mail server. The only recourse is to talk to the ISP, who may well deny it. However, if she asks them what kind of spam filtering they are using, perhaps the answer may be revealed.