GoDaddy For the past 2 years, I have been registering domains through and hosting my web sites with GoDaddy.  While I’ve had moderate issues with customer support, I haven’t run into any issues that really made me think “it’s time to move on.”  That was until my most recent spat regarding my emails getting marked as spam.  Allow me to first explain.

I have several (6) sites hosted through my GoDaddy shared hosting account.  As far as price goes, GoDaddy is fantastic.  However, keep in mind that you get what you pay for.  When using shared hosting through GoDaddy, if you want to send emails programmatically, through code that is, you need to use their mail relay servers.  A mail relay server is essentially a box that takes in email messages and routes them out onto the internet so they get to where they need to go. 

Up until the beginning of February (approximately) all of the emails I was sending through the GoDaddy mail relay were going into inboxes just fine.  Keep in mind we’re not talking about a lot of emails.  Maybe 10 a week typically.  If that many.  All of a sudden around February 3rd, I realized that while people were commenting here, I wasn’t getting any sort of notification.  So I did the first thing I could think of: I came to my site and filled out the contact form as well as left comments.  Both of which should have triggered an email.  Seeing that they weren’t making it into my email box, I contacted GoDaddy support. 

The first request was:

Several of my websites send email through relay-hosting.secureserver.net and as of yesterday (that I know of) none of the emails seem to be making it through (last known successful was on Jan 29th). Is there an issue with the mail server?

Their response was (paraphrased):

If you continue to experience a problem, please let us know the url of the page as well as the steps we can take to duplicate the issue.  Also, here’s how to take a screenshot.

While I understand that they have to offer support that both the slack jawed yokel and the software engineer can understand, no where in their response is there even a shred of an answer to the question I posed.

My follow-up request:

I guess I should clarify. I'm NOT getting an error sending an email through your web client or anything like that. I am sending emails through my asp.net web site using the goaddy relay server as specified here; http://help.godaddy.com/article/955. Up until the past couple of days, this worked fine. I have made NO code changes and DO NOT require code help.. I am NOT getting any errors when I try to email through relay-hosting.secureserver.net but it is not working. Can someone please check this out?

Their response (again paraphrased):

We need to know how to reproduce this.  Please give us more information.

While I was pretty sure I had specified EXACTLY how I was using their mail relay to send email through my asp.net web site, I’ll give them a bone and try to be helpful.  My next (we’re on number 3 here) email explained how to get to my contact page and exactly what happened (again that it sent email through their relay server) when they used the form.

Their (3rd) response (paraphrased):

What address are you expecting to receive this email on.  We aren’t showing any issues with our relay servers.

It was at this point that I thought that maybe the emails were making it through and going to the spam folder.  Sure enough, there they were.  Every one had not passed the gmail or the Google Apps spam mail filter.  With this in mind, I sent my 4th support request:

After looking into this more on my side, I think that Google is blacklisting emails from relay-hosting.secureserver.net If I send an email from any of my domains through secureserver.net's relay, they are ending up in spam folders for gmail and google app accounts. I'm very certain it has to do with secureserver relaying the emails as when I send the emails through gmail or google apps (or any other relay I've tried using) they get to their destinations just fine. Just to stress this, the emails ONLY end up in the spam folders when sent through the secure server's relay.

The important things here are that I’m stating that the emails going through their relay server are being marked as spam.  However, if email is sent through the gmail (or google apps mail) interface, none of them are marked as spam. 

GoDaddy’s 4th response:

In case you are using a "from" address in your code with referring to our shared hosting email relay server, please confirm that you are not referring to a major free email provider such as Gmail as the "from" address, as this will most likely result in the emails being blocked.   For testing / set-up purposes, we would recommend not referring t any free Web-based email service to confirm that you are referring to our email relay servers correctly.

A fair point.  The emails should show up as coming from my domain.  Oh wait, they are.  The emails were coming from either an address at this domain or an address at a different domain.  Both hosted at GoDaddy, both sending emails through their relay.  The important thing to remember here is that it wasn’t just one domain I was having issues with.  It was two separate domains.  In my 5th response, I stated these things. 

Their 5th response:

Unfortunately we cannot control how emails are filtered by the recipient. Please note that our server admins work to keep our email servers off of block-lists. Since you do receive the messages it seems that we are not on their block-list. If you are receiving the messages in a spam, or bulk folder you will need to specify that the message is not spam to prevent this from happening.

First, I never asked them to do anything such as control how Google filter’s their mail.  Second, I never claimed the email servers were on a “block-list”.  For those of you not in the know, email providers, such as Google, use many different criteria when determining if an incoming email is spam.  One of those ways is based off the “reputation” of the mail server it comes from.  The idea being that as emails come through, if people say “this email is spam”, that mail server’s reputation goes down.  Eventually it get’s to a point where all emails coming from it are marked as spam by that email provider.  If the mail server continues to offend, it’s put on a “block-list” and emails just aren’t let through at all.  So while I never said the mail server was on a “block-list”, I certainly wouldn’t be insane thinking that maybe their mail server had been blacklisted and the emails marked as spam.  At this point, I was really just looking for them to at least own up to the possibility that their mail server’s reputation was so bad, emails were getting sent directly to spam folders. 

My 6th, and final support communication:

Perhaps I am missing something that you can explain. Two separate domains that I have hosted through GoDaddy are both using GoDaddy's mail relay server. Suddenly, mail from both of these domains start failing Google's spam filter. However, when emails are sent via these email accounts (not using the relay server) they do not fail the spam filter. I think my assumption that there is an issue with the relay servers' email being marked as spam is solid. As it stands, I am unable to use a secure external relay due to port 587 being blocked. In addition, you seem unwilling or incapable of offering any real assistance. Can my ticket be escalated please?

So here, I’m laying my case out completely.  Two different domains, both using the GoDaddy mail relay, have both started being sent directly to the spam folders of google mail accounts.  Emails sent through these accounts NOT using the relay server (either through the mail interface or their smtp / imap clients) are not marked as spam.  Furthermore, I can’t switch to using gmail’s SMTP mail relay to send my emails from my web site.  Due to ports being blocked, GoDaddy’s mail relay is my only option.  At this point, I’m tired of dealing with people that can’t answer any of my questions to any degree of satisfaction. 

Their 6th response:

As stated in our previous response, we cannot control how Google filters their mail. You will need to contact Google, or whitelist the emails to prevent them from being filtered as spam. We thank you for your understanding in this matter.

A complete failure to provide any assistance whatsoever.  I did like that they said I could “whitelist” the emails despite a complete lack of explanation on why they might be “blackelisted” in the first place.  As I can’t switch to a different mail relay, as explained above, I don’t really have any other options.  I am currently in the process of examining alternative hosting solutions and have started recommending friends away from GoDaddy (two have already asked me questions leading to suggestions for alternate registrars and hosting solutions).  I would rather start paying more for better service and actual options than continue with GoDaddy.  (On a side note, GoDaddy might have 24 hour support, but when you state that there is a 2 hour wait for responses to email support questions and then take 4.5 hours to respond, your 24 hour support really doesn’t mean shit).

Update: 6/24/2010
I've since moved all of my hosting off GoDaddy. You can read about my new host, Arvixe, here.


Chris Risner