I have been an avid fan of new services offered by companies, to compare different ones and find the best to use. So for my domain I have been using Google Apps for e-mail and it has been working flawlessly. Needless to say I have been very happy with them (kudos!). Support was quite non-existent but never really had a serious issue with them.
Then Microsoft came with their Windows Live Custom Domains. Even though the package was not as good as Google, a sense of loyalty to my company drove me towards using it. Using it was a no-brainer. Sign up with your Live ID and register your domains. Since I was already happy with Google Apps, I gave it a miss. But when they introduced support for sub-domains I was more than happy to try it out and my mail.smart-techie.com is hosted on it. Not a problem with that ever, yay Microsoft. BTW their support was just great!
Now enter AOL. Famous for its terrible ways (and how it was made to make everything on its site free!). For sometime, they didn’t even have free customer support. When they came with one, it was pathetic. Now, I registered my primary domain with them for their myeAddress service expecting it… to work. Big surprise, it didn’t (actually it wasn’t that much of surprise).
Finally I found a link to contact their live customer care. Live… must be able to solve problems quickly.</p>
So I tried contacting one of them that their service failed to recognize that I had set up the MX records for my domain correctly. That guy had a pseudonym Leon and tried to help. But when things like MX records and mail servers and registrars came into the picture, it was apparent he was lost. He tried to begin at Step 1 for him which was the registrar. Since my registrar wasn’t one listed, he said I won’t be able to use the service. WTH, since when did the web start to discriminate people based on the registrar of their domain or was AOL so stupid that they checked the registrar’s site to get MX records (ROFL, are they doing that!). Anyway I persisted and finally brought some sense into that guy who agreed that my settings were indeed correct and promised to contact me after a day.
Hi! It’s me, Leon. We appreciate your patience with this matter. Please try setting up your My E-Address after 24-48 hours. I have already escalated this to my supervisor, and filed a report so the My E-Address development team would study this, and I asked for confirmation if your registrar is supported by My E-Address. Please let me know the result. You may send me an e-mail to this address. (AOLTECHLMP@AOL.COM)
Thank you so much.
Leon / AOLTechLMP
Customer Care Consultant
When I didn’t get a reply after a day, I again fired the chat thingy on their support site. Now it is 4th July, the American Independence Day, so support guys in the US are on a holiday. Enter their Indian BPO offices… The first guy I get is Arun.
Me: I have access to the nameservers for my domain and had changed them myself
Me: the registrar is not involved in setting up these settings for me
Me: I am not using the registrar’s nameservers
TechLiveARM: Ok. So you are the domain owner is it ?
Me: I have checked the MX record configuration on third party sites like dnsstuff.com and mxtoolbox.com and they are showing the updated settings
TechLiveARM: All right. Please Log in to your registrar’s website and go to the MX record maintenance page. And provide me that link please. I will check information on that.
What, didn’t I tell that guy that I have my own domain and nameservers?
Me: The registrar doesn’t maintain MX settings for me, that’s what I am telling here. He just has NS records pointed to my nameservers
Me: My nameservers mentioned in the NS records have the MX records with them
Crash course in DNS 101 to a tech support guy.
Me: You can use a site like http://www.mob.net/~ted/tools/mx.php3 or http://www.davidj.org/tools/whatmx.php to see my current settings as visible to computers on the Internet
TechLiveARM: This could be the problem. Because as per AOL requirement, The MX settings configuration has to be done by the domain registrar. And we don’t provide technical support on the same.
TechLiveARM: All the help information and configuration information are on the help pages given to you in the earlier chats.
Me: Hey I know what I am talking about here and the information can be retrieved from any computer and not specifically GoDaddy or any other domain registrar’s computer
Me: the computer called the NameServer takes care of these settings
Me: and it has been verified that the settings made by me are correct as per yesterday’s chats
Me: so it means you can see the correct settings from your end
Me: You can look up the chat transcript to see that the support person says that
TechLiveARM: Yes. I understand. But what i mean to tell is (he’s an Indian, look from the way he builds the sentence… can be directly translated in Hindi word-to-word), Although everything is set right, It could be still giving you that error because the MX is not maintained by the Registrar. And unfortunately we don’t provide troubleshooting for this issue.
TechLiveARM: I have seen the previous chat transcripts.
Me: it doesn’t matter if the MX record is maintained by anyone, just that the MX record should be retrievable by the computer trying to send mail.
TechLiveARM: Unfortunately AOL doesn’t mention that. AOL’s help pages say that it has to be Maintained by the registrar.
Me: can you point me to the location where it says that specifically?
Me: that MX records have to be maintained by registrar else this won’t work?
TechLiveARM: It’s doesn’t say that anywhere. But it doesn’t say that it would work if it is not maintained by a non registrar too.
TechLiveARM: And therefore, Since there is no technical support on this, We would advice you to go with the help information.
Me: Your statement was "AOL's help pages say that it has to be Maintained by the registrar."
Me: now you are backtracking on what you have said
Me: It is clear that there might be a problem with myeAddress registration service
Me: and its Lookups
TechLiveARM: Oh.. I am sorry. I apologize for that.
Sure you apologize for blaming the system for your stupidity.
Me: rather than the problem being communicated to the team,
Me: you are advertising the service as fully functional
Me: Also in the support mail, there was something mentioned about escalation
Me: can you say something on that?
And then the most classic thing, just like you say “hello… hello…” on the telephone line when you don’t want to talk to the other person, this person starts types in quick succession (actually 2 seconds, then after a mandatory pause by the system, the last line).
Not to rush you, but are you still with me?
Please send a message that you are still with me, or I will have to end this session to help the next person in line.
Unfortunately, we are not able to communicate for some reason. I will have to end this session now.
Not wanting to be outdone, I go to the chat again and guess what, it’s the same guy. As soon as he reads the transcript of the earlier chat, 3 lines pop up which have already been reproduced earlier for your reading pleasure.
AOL has started its aol.in portal, but with more morons posing as their tech support, its only time before they bow down to the likes of Microsoft.
Free IMAP server for your domain with unlimited storage is a big thing. So I kept trying to register at their site for 2 more months. Finally, they actually canceled my previous registration request and this time, their site actually worked! It accepted my registration and within an hour I was able to send and receive mail using AOL. Their service is a little buggy (you can’t put a name on your outgoing messages which forces me to use Google or Yahoo SMTP servers 😞 and their service intermittently goes down. But I think I can live with that. SO the moral of the story is “try, try and try again until you succeed even though the Tech Support says otherwise!”.