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Telecom says sorry to business customers as Officemail suffers third day of problems

UPDATE Fri Nov 2: Telecom's Officemail email service continues to suffer problems - but the company says they are not its fault.

The company is still trying to clear a backlog of email following an outage on Wednesday.

NBR continued to receive complaints from readers this morning.

Telecom sent NBR the following statement at 1.30pm:

Telecom is apologising to business customers for delays in the receiving of emails through its Officemail product over the past two days.

Telecom technicians have identified and resolved the cause of an Officemail issue which has been causing delays over recent days in the receiving of emails for customers.

The problem was caused by unprecedented congestion after a significant number of emails were sent by a third-party mailer on behalf of their customer.

Telecom identified the problem immediately and took steps to allow for this increased traffic volume.

Customers should now be able to send and receive emails but some may experience delays as backed up email traffic continues to clear.
Telecom apologies for the inconvenience this issue has caused some customers.

The company says while the root cause was out of its control, it is doing all it can to prevent a reoccurrence including adding additional capacity to  prevent this type of incident from occurring again.

Telecom declined to name the mailing company, citing customer confidentiality, but did tell NBR, "The volume involved was significant. Our average daily traffic was sent in one email distribution."

Asked when the backlog would be cleared, the spokeswoman said,  "At this stage we’re unsure external parties that have sent customers emails will automatically resend if they were not received. The timing of the resend depends on different ISP’s and it can be anywhere from one hour to one week. We’re hopeful however that the bulk of the backlog will be cleared in the next day."

On the question of compensation, she said "Our present focus is working to ensure the problem is resolved satisfactorily and it’s too early to talk about any potential compensation."

Telecom says the Officemail problems are not related to Telecom's YahooXtra email service.

Thurs Nov 1: Telecom's temperamental Officemail has suffered more problems.

"There was an issue with some network maintenance carried out yesterday which caused delays to some email traffic," a spokeswoman told NBR this afternoon.

"The problem was fixed this morning but there is unfortunately still a backlog of emails."

One affected business client told NBR, "I'm tearing our hair out here. I normally get around 120-140 emails a day. I'm not looking forward to the surge."

A spokesman added "The Xtra maintenance outage wasn’t the only issue we’ve had today with email services. 

"There has also been congestion on the Officemail system.  The problem arose with abnormally high number of bulk emails being distributed by a third party provider on behalf of its client which effectively caused a dose of indigestion  on the Officemail server – around 2 1/2 times the usual daily traffic.   We’re currently clearing the backlog and will be working with the provider to avoid a recurrence."

Telecom's email system suffered major problems in May and June this year.and again in September.

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Comments and questions

they say in the article the problem is fixed, but that is not what the telecom help desk people are saying. I am still without email after two days

Yes not fixed here I've had no emails since 7am yesterday '

Once again I now know why my phones ringing with folk complaining I havn't got back to them...didn't get their emails and other clearly havn't received mine. Its very ad hoc so have been totally fooled.

Same here, everyone in our company stopped getting emails Tuesday and we have had none since. This is unreal. We receive 200-300 emails per day. We can't respond or receive to our customers. The time we have had not answering our emails we have been researching better places to move our mail. This will be the last of our services we currently have with Telecom. I totally regret not moving providers sooner.

agree with above, 2 days no business emails looking to move my web hosting had enough of this third world outfit

Yes incredibly shocking - everyone involved should move providers-customers think its our fault -telecom should fess up and make an announcement ...thats the very least they can do......2 of my busiest days of the year and taking abuse from people who cant understand because my emails go out but theirs dont come in.....

Absolute chaos. I have angry and frustrated clients saying we haven't got back to them. The email is still drip feeding through at all hours of the day. My biggest complaint Telecom aren't proactive about keeping us informed. There's a major problem but they'll only tell us if we ask.

I'm sure they sent you an email to notify ... which of course you can't receive. No doubt followed by a bulk form notice in 3 weeks time "apologising for the inconvenience" but offering no compensation. Its becoming a bit of a joke really.

Hey Telecom, your sites says the problem is resolved as of yesterday. We have had no emails and still have no emails as of midnight Tuesday. We have given up trying to get an answer. We are in the process of moving over to a more reliable provider that has this thing called service

I rang in to telecom to endeavour to find out when the backlog could be cleared and the lady I spoke to had no idea in the world about when and put me on hold for 20 minutes until 5 pm when they just hung up. Must have been time for her to go home. Thank god I changed my phone provider from telecom years ago! Pathetic - worse than outsourcing to the Philippines!

The issue with the Telecom Xtra/Yahoo linkup are long standing ones.
I feel sorry for the people who's businesses etc are being disrupted.
If your business is dependent upon email, you should consider moving away from Xtra as a host and towards a hosted solution like google apps or Microsoft Office 365. That or an office mail server like Exchange. Either way you won't be dependent upon Yahoo whom have repeatedly demonstrated that they are useless.

Run a business with Telecom email, I just spoke to a Telecom support person, english not flash, but she did tell me that this is the 3rd day of the problem - can't say when it will be fixed. Did offer to send me an email.

I wish Telecom, I can't get bloody emails!!

on to the third day without emails - only dripfeeding some emails which came through gateway. Unhappy clients, and extra work for us as the information we distribute to our clients does (not) arrive through email, so we have to manually chase it up. No explanation from Telecom about the problem, no estimated time to fix, hesitant to admit there was a problem in the first place - not good!

UPDATE - from a guy we talked to a Telecom CTU. The servers are now processing emails but your emails may take until early next week to come through. Some of the emails would have bounced back to the senders. The back log is so huge that even with their added server capacity the volumes of emails are way beyond their systems capacity.

Telecom is a really good example of why NZ will never become an IP hub, our biggest telco can't even run a mail exchange.

We are a web based company and always try and use NZ providers. Over time we have had migrated all our services in US providers due to far better stability, reliability and 25/7 customer service.

Migrating our email hosting is now on our list to move to the US.

The same here, we starting loosing emails from Wednesday and I bet there is no compensation for the amout of tiime we have spent getting people to fax in orders etc. I'm sure we will get another email to add to the growing list apologising and assuring all that it could never happen again until next time..... maybe the CEO should go fishing again as it worked for the mobile network.

Interesting how alot of the language here is almost the same. You have to wonder if someone is pushing a barrow.
How many sane business people rely on a public ISP for their email. Why don't you use Telecoms business products or get your own email server. Probably too cheap to do so but happy to complain.

"How many sane business people rely on a public ISP for their email."

Your totally right. I would also be weary of Telecoms business products too as we have experienced many problems with their so called business services.

Also. Is the Telecom Office Mail not a business product ? It broke down too with the Yahoo system

we ARE using Telecoms business product - Officemail. Mail from one Officemail user to another works fine, it is just incoming mail from external non-Telecom associated gateways that seem to have died. Not delays - just nothing.

We are using one of Telecom's business products & are missing emails...
Why have they not informed anyone, have they lost this mail????!!!

Yep - the frustration is not knowing what you're not getting... didn't realise until yesterday that the unusually low number of emails (just enough to think it was a very slow day and not a network error) had a reason beyond our control. The lack of proactive information is very frustrating. A coincidental conversation made me suspect something was up and so go looking on the telecom site for an answer. Where customer service is critical to a small business this is not good enough. From emails i know have been sent, the backlog is nowhere near cleared... not looking forward to receiving 3 days emails to process on a Friday afternoon....

I've been trying to get hold of a human at Yahoo for days to investigate issues with the service. The most I can find is a webform that I filled out several times and never get a reply from. Both XTRA and Yahoo server status still shows everything is running and there are no problems of course. This has cost me hours of my life trying to diagnose an issue they already knew about but failed to inform! How about something on your front page Yahoo? !!!

Even Telecom / Xtra cant get hold of Yahoo it seems. After considerable effort and getting a variety of phone numbers that send you off into other call centres or unattended offices it seems there is an Aussie office that thinks NZ is dullsville in South Tasmania for all they care. Telecom are a pack of tossers who contract out core business service to others and fail to appreciate that their own brand loyalty is at risk....or maybe they truly dont care.

It's been a mess since Yahoo! ( what the hell is the exclamation mark doing in the brand) got involved.

My organisation is in the social services sector with members of the public using email as channel for assistance. We have had limited or no external emails since about 10.30am Wednesday (31 Oct). Advice from Telecom still say there is no resolution, and this is currently our experience (as of 1.45pm Friday 2 November).

"A spokewoman told NBR the problems were not related to Telecom's YahooXtra email service."

So the XTRA email issues this week are purely coincidence ?....or just normal yahoo cr*p service as well.
The bulldust that flows from Telecon on any issue is breathtaking.

What is this "not our fault" nonsense ? Of course it is your fault - it is your service and people cant use it - end of story. Try and be up front and a good service provider. If you got overloaded you should have had controls in place to prevent that.

Steve (and Chris) - we've never said that the Officemail problem is not "our fault". What we said was that the fact a single email distributor sent almost a day's worth of system traffic in a single email blast was beyond our control. Of course we accept responsibility for service disruption and apologise accordingly to all our affected customers. We working hard to clear the email backlog, return Officemail service to normal.
Andrew Pirie
Head of Communications

I'm sure you are Steve, perhaps yesterday your website should have acknowledged that there was a problem, as there clearly was .

Does anybody know the position regarding penalties if I break my contract with Telecom/Xtra/Yahoo? It's not as though there are providing the service I pay for - someone else's fault -phhhhhtttttttt

It's an issue that is somewhat widespread as old infrastructure, growing volumes and increasingly complex email filtering affect ISPs see this re AOL

I would just like to add to #21, that Telecom never said it wasn't their fault if you read the press release above. It was however, caused by a third party provider sending bulk emails on behalf of a Telecom client. Telecom have as of today resolved the issue, and the backlog of emails is clearing, however they're still working on a fix to prevent this from happening again.

Rubbish "today they have resolved the issue", where are my emails?! I'm still missing days worth. Goodness me Jarrod, you don't work for Telecom by any chance?

you would think that there would have been a press release back on wens. so my clients could see why there emails are bouncing jusy wondering if yahoo got hit with storm? the only way to get hold of yahoo is to ring at toll call rates.. maybe 3 months free broadband for every one may be the way to go for compenation for this muck up!

Why is it when these problems arise that neither Telecom nor Xtra put anything easily locatable on their websites notifying users of current problems? We wasted time and money getting in touch with our IT consultant to see what was wrong with our system when it was good old Telecom all the time. Are they too embarrassed to be up front when the system crashes? I thought these guys were in the communication industry. How about communicating about the situation , guys?

The Telecom PR speak is rubbish - there have been ongoing issues with Xtra for months on end.

"....around 2 1/2 times the usual daily traffic..."

They don't even have the redundant capacity to handle this? lol

Telecoms statement that the problem is fixed and the backlog will take a while while mail providers dequeue their email is a incorrect - None of the (diverse) systems I have can send emails to the affected users yet - despite instructing my servers to retry. (for the technically inclined, attempts to deliver to their service are still continuously being met with the message host[] refused to talk to me: 421 Service not available)

So far our estimated loss this week from no emails is into the $1000's so far & 100's of lost customers. It will get much worse for us if it goes into next week and i get the worrying feeling it will. There must be some serious lost business from this problem. Telecom will also loose a lot of customers like us because of the problem. Where was the fail over system ? Where was the back up ? How many times does this service have to fail before you guys get a reliable system in place ?

Friday night, and still awaiting the first email from that backlog! And a while ago me too got the "Service not available" response.

ridiculous situation to be in, can't run a business with telecom inability to provide basic email service. Will be changing providers pronto. Why didn't Telecom immediately communicate through the media stating problems with emails so all my customers at least know why they are not receiving answers. Will lose business big time through Telecoms stuff up

We have not had any business emails since Monday! Telecom has a major PR challenge ahead - the least we would expect from them would be a media release!! This is appalling!

I'm too scared to moan to Telecom, in case, they bin all my emails instead of delivering them to me.

Comment #34
Do you have any grounds for for your fears, i.e. Has Telecom or any other provider deleted you email as a result of a complaint.