25 January 2012

The BBC and the bouncing emails

For the record, this is the staggering response I received from the BBC's iPlayer support when I helpfully let them know that the email address they use as sender when responding to feedback sent through their support web form is non-deliverable.

I think it speaks for itself. You would at least think they would set the sender address to "noreply-werenotlistening-lalala@bbc.co.uk" so you wouldn't waste time composing a response. And if you've been through the web form, you will know that filling it out once is okay, but to use it to reply? Give over!

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: BBC iPlayer - Case number CAS-1258137-Q271CZ
Date: 24 Jan 2012 10:19:09 +0000
From: bbc_iplayer_website@bbc.co.uk <bbc_iplayer_website@bbc.co.uk>
To: tim abell <tim@timwise.co.uk>

Dear Mr Abell

Reference CAS-1258137-Q271CZ

Thank you for contacting the BBC iPlayer support team.

I understand you’re unhappy that the reply email you had sent to our email bounced.

I’m afraid it is not possible to reply to our email because we deal with over a million audience contacts every year and we have to ensure they can be efficiently tracked using our handling system and therefore for every correspondence you need to fill the webform. In addition, our complaints, BBC iPlayer and general enquiries webforms ask for essential information such as channel, programme name and transmission date which means we don't have to write back to people unnecessarily. Using a webform also guarantees we can match a return contact up with the previous contact from that person without the need to cross-check thousands of unformatted emails which would then have to be manually transferred into the tracking system.

We try to restrict public email inbox addresses where possible because we receive millions of 'spam' e-mails and a return email address would attract and generate even more. Junk mail costs the BBC a considerable amount of money because every email has to be checked before we can delete them as it’s not always easy to distinguish them from a genuine email.

I appreciate this may be annoying, but we did not take this decision lightly. Our policy takes into account what is operationally efficient and avoids the need to employ additional staff to process incoming emails. I would therefore ask that you please follow the instructions in the reply you received and use our online form at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints. Your email will then be passed to a member of our team for further investigation and reply.

Once again thank you for contacting BBC iPlayer.

Kind Regards

Usha Devi Peri

BBC Audience Services


NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.


And here is the bounce, so you can see why I thought they had made a mistake:

Subject: Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2012 07:42:07 -0500 (EST)
From: MAILER-DAEMON (Mail Delivery System)
To: tim@timwise.co.uk

This is the Postfix program at host mxout-07.mxes.net. I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not be delivered to one or more recipients. Here is the reason why the message could not be delivered. <bbc_iplayer_website@bbc.co.uk>: host cluster1.eu.messagelabs.com[] said: 550-Invalid recipient <bbc_iplayer_website@bbc.co.uk> 550 (#5.1.1) (in reply to RCPT TO command)

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