Back in the early days of the Internet revolution, Demon Internet were pioneers. When Cliff Stanford started off it’s famous tenner a month service, it was the first ISP in the UK for individuals, and I have to say back in the mid-nineties I was a pretty happy customer.
However, following the appalling mess they made of my account, the last of a whole series of problems, I went with Zen Internet for my broadband connection, and my e-mail comes through Gradwell.com, all of which is pretty stable – indeed my ADSL connection has dropped only once in all the time I’ve had it. The same can’t be said for Demon. My parents decided to stick with them when they upgraded to broadband, and although they haven’t hit any problems like mine with accounts, they have regular technical problems.
The most fundamental of these is with e-mail. Again tonight I’ve had several e-mails in from my parents asking me to forward on e-mails that have been bounced, because the destination ISP has blacklisted the Demon mail server. This is not the first time it has happened, in actual fact it is a pretty regular occurrence. Essentially, what keeps happening is that since the majority of Demon customers use the same mail cluster, if whether deliberately, or thanks to a virus a whole load of spam is sent out through the mail server the automated spam blacklists trip, and the Demon mail server gets blocked by a number of ISP’s around the world that subscribe to the blacklists. This wouldn’t be too bad if Demon dealt with the problem quickly, but usually it goes on for days before they get the block removed, and in that time e-mails to the affected ISP’s get bounced. Now I’m quite sure that all the other ISP’s have exactly the same problems with customer PC’s getting infected with spam producing malware, however many of the other ISP’s seem to be able to deal with it without blocking e-mail for customers for days on end.
As to when it all went wrong, many of the long time Demon customers point to the sell out to Scottish Power in 1998 as being the point where it all started to go wrong – that is certainly around the time I started to have problems. The irony that I had similar problems with Scottish Power whose accounts system didn’t match up with reality, as I did with the Demon accounts system that didn’t match up with reality is not lost on me. Nor is the fact that in both cases it took a lot of hassle to get them to sort the problems, whilst with Scottish Power I had Energywatch to fall back on to, Demon just to weeks and weeks of calls, and eventually getting to talk to someone senior in their customer service department. Certainly once I got through to somebody senior, things started to get sorted, it’s just that with both their front-line technical and customer service call centres they don’t seem to be able to solve the problems. Take the last time the e-mail servers started getting blocked, the Demon helpline blamed the other ISP, and questioned whether my parents e-mail was set up correctly, despite having been sent a log that showed that the Demon mail server has been blacklisted.
So if you’re stuck on a twelve month contract with Demon, what is there to do? Whilst you can’t avoid any problems with ADSL connectivity, you certainly could bypass the e-mail problems. The ultimate solution is to get yourself a domain name through an independent service such as Gradwell.com. On the few occasions I’ve had problems using Gradwell.com they have always been quick to sort things out, and happy to investigate problems. Indeed on a couple of occasions I’ve even had tech support from Peter Gradwell himself. Since you can take the domain name with you if you move provider, you then get over the problem of having your e-mail address tied to a particular ISP, as you do if you use your Demon address for example. Indeed, although Howard is now also with Gradwell.com, he has moved his durdle.com domain several times over the years. If you don’t want to go for the full domain, at the very least, sending your outgoing e-mail through a different mail server would solve the problems. For example for Â£15 a year (just Â£1.25 a month) Gradwell.com will allow you to use their server for outgoing e-mail. Certainly whilst Demon may provide the service it once did, there are plenty of alternatives around.
Update: Mum forwarded on the bounce e-mail to the other ISP and recieved the following reply:
– 220.127.116.11 –
The IP you previously provided has been removed from the Comcast.net blocklist.
After review of the blocking, the IP you submitted was found to have been blocked due to the fact that the majority of the traffic from that IP contained content indicative of spam. If you are not aware of the traffic that could have caused this, we recommend a review of your outbound mail logs and ensuring that all computers connecting to through the submitted IP are clear of any security exploits.
If you look up 18.104.22.168, that comes back as anchor-fallback-96.mail.demon.net, part of the Demon mail cluster.