22 March 2015

Yahoo Mail SucksOh frabjous day!

At long last, I have managed to figure out why Yahoo enjoys rejecting lots of mail that is sent to its users.

You have probably encountered this problem before, especially if you happen to manage any kind of mailing list that sends HTML messages to even one or two people with Yahoo e-mail addies.

Yahoo bounces messages back at you with the message, “554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons.”

What gives?

You’re going to LOVE this.

For ages now, I have struggled to figure out why Yahoo just loves rejecting perfectly valid bulk HTML e-mails that every other service out there – including GMail – accept without a problem.

When you get bounced messages from Yahoo, the return mail contains something like the following rejection message:

Remote-MTA: dns;mx-eu.mail.am0.yahoodns.net ( Diagnostic-Code: smtp;554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit http://postmaster.yahoo.com/errors/postmaster-27.html [120] X-PowerMTA-BounceCategory: policy-related

So, you click the above link. You see the following explanation:

If the content of a message you’re trying to send violates Yahoo Mail policies, you’ll receive an SMTP error or bounce message containing “554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons [120].” For example, it’s against Yahoo Mail policy to send phishing attempts.

Well, WTH?!  You never send phishing attempts, or spam, or anything of the sort!

So, you contact Yahoo. Crickets.  You contact them again, sign up for their Anti-Spammy SuperDuper Approved Sender List Thingy, etc… All to no avail.  At this point, you might start to become rather suspicious.

Now, I can’t prove this, and it certainly isn’t a scientific analysis… But I have been paying attention to what mails are rejected by Yahoo, and what mails are not for well over a year now. Yahoo users may receive mail for weeks, and then BAM! It starts rejecting all mail, and the only option is to unsubscribe your dear users from your newsletter – and wait…

They may sign up again, and it will work – for awhile. Rinse and repeat.

PhishingIt turns out that the key to this problem is the phrase “phishing attempts”.

Next time you send out a newsletter, include one or two of the following:

  • Bank
  • World Bank

Be sure that the words are hyperlinked to any site.

VOILA! Yahoo rejects your newsletter!

You see, phishing is when spammers send you an e-mail that looks like, say, an official communication from your bank. The word “Bank” or maybe “Unlock your account” or something like that is hyperlinked, but not to your bank. It’s a scam, and the link actually points to the spammer’s nefarious website, where the unfortunate clicker will be encouraged to give all of his/her personal data so the scammers can steal it.

I’m sure you see the problem here.

As I mentioned, GMail has no problem with e-mails that contain Bank and World Bank hyperlinked to some news site, for example. But Yahoo certainly does!

Just to note, the newsletter I manage is not sent from a dedicated server that has deliverability issues; it’s sent from Mandrill, aka Mail Chimp, and our overall rating is “Excellent” with a tiny tiny Bounce/Spam Rate.

I’ve concluded that there is a reason why Google is kicking Yahoo’s ass. The reason is that Yahoo’s service really sucks. Their phishing detection is clearly quite stupid.

Other services like GMail are probably examining the context of the message in which World Bank is hyperlinked, so they can very easily tell if it’s a real phishing scam, or a valid newsletter from a site that contains the phrase “World Bank” linked to a news story on a mainstream media site.

Of course, that makes Yahoo’s phishing detection even more pitiful, because apparently it doesn’t even look at the reputation of the site that is linked to!

What’s the solution?

Well, you could stop reading the news or sending newsletters, but my solution is to encourage people to stop using Yahoo Mail. Problem solved.

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Why Yahoo is Rejecting Your Mail
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21 thoughts on “Why Yahoo is Rejecting Your Mail

  • 4 May 2016 at 18:52

    Great many thanks for the info

  • 1 June 2016 at 03:46

    i am 100% agree with you to encourage people to stop using Yahoo Mail. not like gmail, yahoo provides no clear clues for postmasters to comply with yahoo’s spam policy.

  • 10 August 2016 at 06:25

    I ran into this issue!
    Come on yahoo! your spam filter need to be better than this!

  • 10 December 2016 at 01:33

    We are not even YAHOO! custmers!! I emailed from my @gmail.com to a client, cc to my @att.net. somehow YAHOO! decided to block MY email from ME to ME

    • 10 December 2016 at 12:28

      AT&T is infamous for blocking tons of perfectly valid e-mails. Many providers use the same blacklist systems, so it’s not uncommon to find that if Yahoo blocks it, so does AT&T, and sometimes Hotmail as well. Some companies even use Yahoo’s mail systems as their own, more or less. Gmail gets it right, though!

  • 22 February 2017 at 05:18

    Unable to send emails to Craigslist ads from my yahoo email. Started AFter I signed up for the app. I restarted the time and date on my iPad as recommended in trouble shooting but no luck Ideas??

  • 20 March 2017 at 13:04

    Are there grounds for a CLASS ACTION SUIT? Perhaps that is a way to get the attention of the fools at Yahoo.

  • 7 April 2017 at 21:07

    same goes for having the word “invoice” in it it seems…!!
    …useless bunch of people….

  • Pingback: Dude, your e-mail’s been hacked! | Scottie's Tech.Info

  • 9 May 2017 at 20:54

    Yahoo is pissing me off, I’m contending with a 700,000 dollar law suit, and they block me email as I had two people cc’d on it… Can’t get shit done with yahoo! I hope they close for good.

  • 8 September 2017 at 03:16

    I was in the middle of a long conversation with a paying customer who uses a Yahoo address. All of a sudden, Yahoo has started to reject our emails (we use Gmail) with “554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. “. No mention of any bank, no links, just a regular business conversation. Now we can no longer communicate with our customer at all. The customer will just think we have stopped replying to him, and might even post a bad review which would be extremely damaging for our business. I suppose that we need to seriously consider banning Yahoo users from buying our products. That will require some software changes to our sales system but at this point I think we do need to make that investment. People need to stop using Yahoo.

  • 30 April 2018 at 04:39

    I feel my problem started after this last change in Yahoo’s policy (AOL merged).
    I got a phone call from my employer saying all their email attempts were rejected. I figured it was an error until today when I did my usual updates of important links and their passwords. I write them in an email and send them to myself and the error554 was reported. I had also sent copies to my other email accts and they were delivered with no problem. When I attempted to reply from these other email accts they were also rejected. there was some info in the email that was causing this failure since a short test email went through with no problems from all of my accts.
    I even when through and changed the topic and removed all the mentioned words “password” from the letter and it still failed.
    I finally was able to send it after I cut the email into two parts. I thought that I could dissect it and discover the offensive statement, so I sent the bottom section and when it was sent without any failure I went ahead and sent the remainder of the letter only to be surprised to see it went through also.
    I am seriously considering abandoning this acct after ten years of service.

  • 3 May 2018 at 13:51

    This same error now occurs in a completely different case:
    “host mta7.am0.yahoodns.net []
    SMTP error from remote mail server after end of data:
    554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit https://help.yahoo.com/kb/postmaster/SLN5067.html [120]”

    Note the different error: SMTP error after end of data.
    I’m using Thunderbird 52.7.0 (32-bit) to send email to a Yahoo address, and this usually works. Suddenly, I can’t reply to someone.

    I have no idea why. I tried sending in plain text only, and that was also rejected.

    My message does not include any links:
    “Thank you for your interest.

    Just one question: can you understand and speak fluent English? “

    • 3 May 2018 at 15:49

      Their moronic spam filtering is probably thinking that the phrase “speak fluent” means it’s spam. Does it go through if you write, “Can you understand and communicate in English at a level approaching that of a native speaker?” LOL!

  • 3 May 2018 at 19:28

    Why would “speak fluent” indicate spam?
    I sent your suggested rewording not long after you posted this, and have not received a bounce message.
    Yahoo has something wrong with them. Have they no shame?

    • 3 May 2018 at 19:56

      There’s a lot of spam out there with stuff like “Speak fluent Spanish in ONE WEEK with the Omegatron Language Learning System!”

  • 23 May 2020 at 10:44

    I have recently created a small email grouping for our Local WI group, yesterday I sent and email to the ladies and some were returned with the message
    —554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit https://help.yahoo.com/kb/postmaster/SLN5067.html [120] .
    The emails went to Yahoo, BT and AOL addresses, but the previous day a single email to my son with a tiscali address was also bounced back – what is going on? and please how can I stop this stupidity and communicate with family and my ladies. If I visit the site listed to see any help they demand you sign in to their cookie and data policies and accept all the cookies for adverts and to access my computer so as I refuse to sign that I cannot get any further information.

    • 23 May 2020 at 10:51

      There isn’t much at all that you can do. Right now, Yahoo is being particularly ornery and rejecting LOTS of mail for no good reason that I can see. They go through phases like that. The best option is if everyone simply stopped using Yahoo Mail!

  • 29 July 2020 at 19:54

    Hi Scottie,
    Is it possible for Yahoo to reject all emails sent from different email addresses on the same device (ie same IP address) to a yahoo email address?
    I tried replying to a client today – we’ve never had a problem emailing him back in the past – and suddenly all emails we send to him from both our own domain and Gmail accounts bounce back.
    I then tried a different device and email address and that worked.
    This is a serious issue for me, as many clients email us from their yahoo accounts and I use my phone mainly to reply (the device mentioned above). I will then not be able to reply to them.
    Is there a fix for this?

    Thank you!

  • 24 September 2020 at 10:03

    I experienced the same issue today when my wife emailed her sports team. Initially I assumed my mail server had been added to a block list, but after checking using various on-line tools, I concluded that the domain reputation was still intact. Then further Googling led me to this page, which was really helpful in helping understand what went wrong.

    We copied and pasted the text from the bounced email into a new email, and gave it a new subject line, and it was accepted by Yahoo with no issues. Based on this, I’d have to conclude that the cause of the original bounce was simply the inclusion of the word “survey” in the original subject line. (I presume Yahoo isn’t too popular with people whose occupation is surveyor?)

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the info. Saved me pulling my hair out. 🙂


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