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Email delays - a 'scientific' study

Community Veteran
Posts: 26,345
Thanks: 600
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

I've set my router to email it's log using the Plusnet SMTP server every hour. The following shows the time sent and the time delived to my mailbox:
Sent           Received

13/05 09:00 13/05 09:33
10:00 Not yet received
11:00 14/05 06:19 <----
12:00 13/05 19:28 <----
13:00 13/05 15:04
14:00 13:05 14:02 *
15:00 Not yet received
16:00 14/05 04:48 <----
17:00 13/05 17:24
18:00 14/05 04:05 <----
19:00 14/05 11:53 <----
20:00 14/05 15:48 <----
21:00 14:05 06:31 <----
22:00 14/05 01:25
23:00 14/05 17:58 <----

14/05 00:00 14/05 01:25
01:00 14/05 01:05 *
02:00 14/05 02:06 *
03:00 14/05 03:02 *
04:00 Not yet received
05:00 14/05 15:36 <----
06:00 14/05 15:37 <----
07:00 Not yet received
08:00 14/05 08:37
09:00 14/05 09:19
10:00 14/05 10:09 *
11:00 Not yet received
12:00 14/05 12:01 *
13:00 14/05 13:03 *
14:00 14/05 18:05
15:00 Not yet received
16:00 14/05 16:00 *
17:00 14/05 17:00 *
18:00 14/05 18:00 *
19:00 14/05 19:00 *
20:00 Not yet received
21:00 14/05 21:06 *
22:00 14/05 22:06 *
23:00 14/05/23:00 *


The asterisks indicate the emails received within 10 minutes which I consider to be the absolute outside limit of what is acceptable - only 14 out of 39 received in a timely manner Cry

I've also highlighted those that took over 6 hours.

However what is more worrying to me is the 7 emails with are still AWOL. Cry Cry Cry

I can't see any signs that things are getting better.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
98 REPLIES
N/A

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

So put another way (for a simple soul like me) approx 18% missing (not far off 1 in 5), with only 36% received within 10 minutes.

If you each day they have their own peculiarities with some appalling results on both days.

There's obviously a lot more going on than meets the eye, or that PN either admit to or know about?
N/A

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

I've been fairly disillusioned with PlusNet for a few months now, but this takes the biscuit.

If my email doesn't work, then I've got to go somewhere else. This is fairly fundamental stuff.

I hope we're going to see a bit more effort than 'oh, it works okay for me' from PlusNet.
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,345
Thanks: 600
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

An update:

Sent           Received      Time taken     

13/05 09:00 13/05 09:33
10:00 Not yet received
11:00 14/05 06:19 7:19
12:00 13/05 19:28 7:28
13:00 13/05 15:04
14:00 13:05 14:02 *
15:00 Not yet received
16:00 14/05 04:48
17:00 13/05 17:24
18:00 14/05 04:05 10:05
19:00 14/05 11:53 16:53
20:00 14/05 15:48 19:48
21:00 14:05 06:31 9:31
22:00 14/05 01:25
23:00 14/05 17:58 18:58

14/05 00:00 14/05 01:25
01:00 14/05 01:05 *
02:00 14/05 02:06 *
03:00 14/05 03:02 *
04:00 Not yet received
05:00 14/05 15:36 10:36
06:00 14/05 15:37 9:37
07:00 Not yet received
08:00 14/05 08:37
09:00 14/05 09:19
10:00 14/05 10:09 *
11:00 15/05 06:55 19:55
12:00 14/05 12:01 *
13:00 14/05 13:03 *
14:00 14/05 18:05
15:00 Not yet received
16:00 14/05 16:00 *
17:00 14/05 17:00 *
18:00 14/05 18:00 *
19:00 14/05 19:00 *
20:00 Not yet received
21:00 14/05 21:06 *
22:00 14/05 22:06 *
23:00 14/05/23:00 *

15/05 00:00 15/05 00:03 *
01:00 15/05 01:03 *
02:00 15/05 02:11
03:00 15/05 03:00
04:00 15/05 04:10 *
05:00 15/05 05:01 *
06:00 15/05 06:11
07:00 15/05 07:00 *


I now show how long the badly delayed (over 6 hours) emails took.

What's noticeable is the emails from Saturday that are still missing. I changed my router to send hourly logs early last week and all emails up to 13/05 09:00 turned up eventually - I was just looking for missing emails and not keeping a record of the times. I'm therefore sure that the missing ones will turn up in the end.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
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Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
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Late e-mails: Explanation and advance warning needed

A mostly malfunctioning e-mail system this weekend. Important e-mails arrived nearly 2 days late.
PN, we need an explanation as to why; give us notice if you have a recurring problem and tell us when it will be fixed; and in future give us advance warning should it begin to recur. You are running a fundamental service, for which customers are paying. You know when it is not functioning, don't leave it to customers to find out via the Forum.
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,345
Thanks: 600
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Late e-mails: Explanation and advance warning needed

Quote
don't leave it to customers to find out via the Forum.


There have been service status posting on the portal here (have you signed up to the service status by email service?).

What is annoying me is that the service status says (my bold):

Quote
We are confident that mails are no longer being significantly delayed, although there may be small delays due to mail queues being slightly higher than normal.


Emails still AWOL after 46 hours is NOT a small delay.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
N/A

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

"It's official!! Air travel is faster than e-mail"

I received an e-mail today from Continental Airlines, with the following header information (heavily summarised by me)

Sent : From Continental Airline to me At 9:54:26 am Saturday 13th
Received : By PN MXCore at 9:54:28am Saturday 13th
Delivered to me at 06:20:06: Monday 15th.

The e-mail was notifying me about the ontime departure of my flight on Saturday 13th.

I know it departed on time - I was on it! I've arrived in the US on Saturday at around 8:00pm BST, 3pm EST on Saturday, had a leisurely dinner with friends in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday night, went shopping on Sunday to purchase the hard-to-get food items for the family, flew on to Wisconsin, checked in to another hotel and spent the night there.

Despite the dinner, shopping and two overnight stays - I still beat the e-mail! I guess it must have taken the scenic route.

More seriously, this can't be right, surely? I'm still a bit time-zoned and it's only 4:36am for me right now, but I seem to recall that Mand Beckett was seeking evidence of continued delays.

I'm gonna search for her relevant message or raise a ticket.
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,345
Thanks: 600
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

Quote
but I seem to recall that Mand Beckett was seeking evidence of continued delays.


I wonder if a few more people could set up some structured testing in a similar manner to me and report the results (emails at no less than hourly intervals - we don't want to overload the system with test emails Wink ). At least we'd have a more accurate picture of what's actually happening in comparison with the fantasy "a few hours" we'll get given with the servive status update due at 6pm tonight.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
N/A

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

Quote
I wonder if a few more people could set up some structured testing in a similar manner to me and report the results


I've raised a ticket including the full e-mail headers and will report any response. Fortunately, I still have a MAC key that is good through till Friday - I'd decided not to use it following the introduction of the TIscali LLU opt-out 'feature' but I am now regretting that decision.

If the e-mail had been advising me of a delay in my flight, I'd have been a little less relaxed about the delay!
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,345
Thanks: 600
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

I raised a ticket:
Quote
Mail I am expecting to receive, including some test emails I have sent from work are not arriving. I've noted the service status that "a small amount of mail is seeing delays longer than a few minutes, in some cases a few hours or more", but the delays I am seeing, plus the drastically reduced volume I am receiving makes me believe this is not the problem I am seeing.


I gave headers of emails delayed by 31 & 28 hours.

Quote
We are aware of an ongoing issue, which is causing delays on some email delivery times to our mail servers. This may be minimal, such as a few
minutes, or considerably more, which could be up to a few hours.

We appreciate the frustration that this will be causing and would like to apologise for the ongoing nature of this problem.

Please see the service status page for updates.]


Quote
I've seen the service status but this is not the problem I'm seeing. The SS says "a few hours" - 28 and 31 hours as shown in the headers I've provided is not "a few" so I must therefore be seeing a different problem - or is the service status wrong.


Quote
Apologies for the ongoing problems with delay on our mail serv ers this is due to an abnormally high amount of mail being sent through our servers at the begining of the month. We have subsequently decided to block mail from certain IPs which are known spammers to resolve this issue and the mail queues on our server are now returning to nomal, for a full explanation of the cause of this problem and the resolution placed please see our service status page.


At which point I gave up. They've either been instructed to lie about how serious the problem actually is or don't have a clue what's actually going on. Given the evidence of the last couple of months I favour the second option and it's down to sheer incompetance.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
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Email delays - a 'scientific' study

This is bad.

I only found out about this problem by visiting the forums(since the portal revamp I'd forgotten how to find the service status page).

This could cause a lot of problem for scores of PN users - surely we all need to know as a matter of urgency if our emails aren't working ?

A test email I sent from my hotmail account last night took 12 hours to arrive.
Community Veteran
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Email delays - a 'scientific' study

I've just sent in headers for two 'Topic Reply Notifications' delayed for over two days and an email from Australia which took a just few hours less than two days to reach me. They can't possibly say that those are delayed by a few hours .......... or will they tell me that too?

My other email provider, .mac, was having similar problems a few weeks ago, leading to similar frustration on their message-boards about the delays and lack of constructive help from customer support.
Plusnet user since November 2003
Currently on Unlimited Fibre Extra and Unlimited UK & Mobile Calls
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,160
Thanks: 1
Registered: 01-08-2007

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

Aha! All these reports are getting the message through.

See http://www.plus.net/supportpages.html?a=2&support_action=messages&ispservice_id=email
Plusnet user since November 2003
Currently on Unlimited Fibre Extra and Unlimited UK & Mobile Calls
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,345
Thanks: 600
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

Finally an acknowledgement of how bad it is:

Quote
Service: Email
Posted: Mon, May 15 2006 at 12:08:38
Subject: Email Delays (3193Cool - Update

We have received further reports of lengthy delays on incoming mail, which we are currently investigating.

We will provide a further update regarding the status of the email platform within the next few hours.


I wonder if this thread had anything to do with that appearing?
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,345
Thanks: 600
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Email delays - a 'scientific' study

I've now put my log on to my webspace to avoid long repetative posts in here:

Log is at: http://www.elvin.plus.com/misc/emaillog.txt

Summary at 12:30:

Sat. 13/05 15 sent, 2 AWOL, 7 took more than 6 hours

Sun. 14/05 24 sent, 4 AWOL, 3 took more than 6 hours

Mon. 15/05 13 sent, all received (9 within 10 minutes - maximum 1:24)
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)