Mailblocks just sucks!

Mailblocks, the first webmail service to offer challenge and response has really gone down the hill. About 2 years, I was humping their service and even blogged about it as I loved their service and offering. The whole idea of challenge-n-response was not the best solution but it did cut almost all my spam and I was willing to put up with the nuisance of having people that email me for the first time to respond to their web-based CAPTCHA. Then comes AOL and buys them out and everything has gone down the hill since that point. AOL bought out Mailblocks to power their free email service that’s being offered are part of AIM and it seems like all the engineering and support people are working on the AOL side of the house, ignoring all the customers that are on the Mailblocks side of the house.

Let’s take this week for an example — Mailblocks has been down most of the day yesterday and they are still down. Can you imagine a 24+ hr outage on your application and the wrath of your users? I can’t wait to cancel my account that I am paying for and move everything over to GMail.

31 thoughts on “Mailblocks just sucks!

  1. Well, they are down again today. I guess it’s time to find another email solution. It galls me that I’ve been paying for this service from the beginning (almost 2 years), and now I get treated like I’m a nusance.


  2. I’ve never had any real issues w/ mailblocks until earlier this week. About 3 days ago my e-mail was down for about 15 hours. As of this morning it’s down again! Yet the same message still pops up about “maintenace”, “…check back in a few minutes”, “…during times when it will affect the least number of people”. Sounds like b.s. to me. The messgae should say “Most likely be down for hours on end… maybe days”, “Maintenace will occur in the middle of the day, in the middle of the work week”, “We suck!”, etc.

    Well, I feel slightly better now.


  3. 🙂 Hi John. You’re completely right. Just tell me that you’re down because of a major fuckup. don’t bullshit me and tell me that you’re only down for minutes. If only Google could speed up mail delivery, I’d move to GMail today as my primary mailbox.


  4. Hi guys,
    I am glad I am not alone. I love(d) Mailblocks. I egt the feeling we are being driven out and I am tempted to treat them as the utility (like electricity, telephone) and say I want credit for the 48 hours I lost. The amount would not be important, what would be important is that it would be difficult to do and representative of our struggles. Any other ideas?
    All was (prety) good until AOL bought them.


  5. A few items: First, after sending Mailblocks a complaint letter, I received a detailed instruction message to help the “team” solve MY problem. I laughed at the notion and told them the busted mail service was THEIR problem, and I wanted it fixed today, but that I was willing to help them with debugging once we negotiated an hourly rate.

    Since they have been mostly down since, I’m looking for a reliable, relatively spam-free service. Any suggestions?

    Like others here, I went from really liking them to intensely disliking them. Why do acquisitions have to be the kiss of death?


  6. I’ve given up on Mailblocks as well. It’s a shame, because I was happy with the service until AOL started messing with it. PC magazine recently rated Yahoo’s email service as best so I’m giving them a try.


  7. I switched to spamarrest, and have been very happy. They also do challenge and response, have been around for at least as long as mailblocks, and look like they have all the feature I’m used to, plus a whole bunch of new ones. Plus, they’re getting better and better over time, and under active development, unlike mailblocks.


  8. I am ridiculously pissed off- first all of the outages you mentioned, then they lost all e-mails received and sent between July 21 to Aug 15, and now I am not able to log-in claiming my user name is invalid.

    I love(d) Mailblocks, the poor man who died last year, the founder of Mailblocks, probably would hate what AOL is doing to his business.



  9. Again it is down. When I access the login page and enter my name/password, the page comes up again–it won’t let me log on. I tried accessing it through other means–it rejects my password and/or username. What a bunch of crap. Just another wakeup call to not rely too heavily on email–or at least have some backups when it goes down(and Mailblocks does GO DOWN).


  10. Found this Blog while researching whether Mailblocks went under or not….I noticed today, that I have not received any email in 7 days ( I have my authorized email forwarded from mailblocks to my outlook) Since noticing the issue, I have NOT been able to get mailblocks site to come up….grrrrr.


  11. I just did a google on “mailblocks sucks” and found this blog.

    I too humped heavily for them and paid, my girlfriend paid twice even after aol swallwed them up. She had resumes out using her mb add – doh!

    I have complained so many times to them. It is such a shitload email providor. Especially when there are so many other options. AOL just wanted to extort mailblocks users into signing on with them. Fuck them and their bait and switch bs. There is Gmail and thunderbird and so many others. It just sucks when you are job hunting and have relied on a service which you PAID for you expect it to be at least as reliable as a freebie. Hotail is a more reliable option. Hell, they don’t even charge your junkmail to your account limit anymore.

    Don’t pay for mailblocks!!!!


  12. I am absolutely stunned at the incompetence of their technical staff and the arrogance of the “email technical support.” If you want to get the most simpered, canned replies, try emailing them. I and many others have repeatedly asked them to post on their Web site a server-down notice. They refuse to do it. They even block you out of the front door many times when they go down. This morning they decide to “do maintenance” all Sunday morning. Do they assume the entire country in in church on Sunday morning. I’m outta there. Now I have to change 1,000 email addresses to move, but I’ve had it with them. Plus, their SMTP server will not allow an attachment larger than 6 MB.

    Don’t use mailblocks! They have gotten decidedly worse since AOL took them over!!!


  13. “Mailblocks email service will be discontinued on November 16, 2005. Once the account is closed, there will be no way to gain access to the account and all the data will be permanently deleted.”

    granted 30 days is waht is required but jeez…


    “The Mailblocks Team has been busy creating the next generation free email service, called AIM Mail. AIM Mail is a free web-based email service with a sleek interface and a client-like feature set, based on Mailblocks technology that you’ve grown to love. ”

    ok…no challenge response….AOL sucks ass


  14. But what’s the best alternative to Mailblocks, now that they are going off the air? And don’t tell me spamarrest. Looks like they’ve got paid people all over the place trying to get you to move to that provider. One of every three discussion groups and blogs say use spamarrest. Plus they’ve already got a paid link on Google. Google mailblocks and you get a free offer. Funny when you go to the spamarrest page they don’t even list mailblocks as one of the alternative email providers.


  15. Yeah, bummer about Mailblocks. Lately it has been very unstable and unresponsive. I think my choices are Fastmail.FM or I really like the unlimited alias feature of Tuffmail at $24.95/year which was what I was paying at Mailblocks. You only get 5 aliases at Fastmail.


  16. Alan,
    Yes, it affects everyone. They have now updated the loging page. Mailblocks is going off the air on Nov 16th, and everything will be deleted. You’re history.


  17. Yeesh, I loved Mailblocks, but with that kind of service drop, are they smoking crack thinking I’d switch to AIM? Thanks for the notes on FM and Tuffmail. Fastmail looks a little too like it might not last forever, and toughmail looks more professional to me.

    For those that were with Mailblocks from the beginning, you probably remember the fervent wishes and expectations of their late founder, Philip Goldman. He wanted Mailblocks to be everything that AIM is not. Am sure he is rolling over in his grave, may he RIP.


  18. Hello all, I was just in the process of going through the motions to get my money back from mailblocks, when i started to fill in the message section, commenting on how great the service was, how great Phil Goldman was, what a great service and product he had created. Then i did a google search and came across this blog page, and like the rest of you my thoughts are the same!!! AIM, like a sucker i signed up, although i will never use this service.

    Enclosed is a copy of what i am including in the message section of my refund request:

    I think it is so sad to see this business close down. It was created by a great guy, who I started to develop a relationship with. For the current generation of internet companies, this guy the boss was on hand to answer questions from any one of his customers. The blogs he set up were full of praises for such a great product and person!

    Phil Goldman created a great product, which would have gone on to be the best email service in the world.

    Like all good things, when he passed on, it was left to people who did not have their heart deep into the business, and where happy to see the business be taken over by AOL. Probably financial reasons, such a shame!!!!!

    I knew the cards where marked from this day on, mailblocks was going to be absorbed into the AOL corporation. I never liked AOL, despite the amount of users they have, they thrive on customers who are not that pc & internet literate, they (AOL) have a habit of filling these people�s machines with their own software, which seems to take over the PC.

    �Thank you Mr Phil Goldman, you created a great product and great service!!!�

    It�s a shame AOL, can�t do the same!!!

    PS. Please see the comments below made by your former director and founder, this was a company dedicated to providing a service, before AOL got hold of it.

    Thanks very much for the kind words Piers. You�re exactly right. I�m staying up late answering all of the feedback from the holiday gift, but the service is growing so quickly it soon will no longer be possible.

    Please keep sending me feedback when you have the time.


    From: Donnelly [mailto:xx]
    Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 3:50 AM
    To: ‘Phil Goldman’
    Subject: Very Impressed !!!

    Dear Phil,

    I am really quite amazed at your feedback!!

    In this day and age you have difficulty to speak to someone in technical support, let alone their manager.

    I am very impressed with your personal presence and the fact that one can relay their thoughts, complaints, praises and ideas to someone of importance. It�s a shame that so many other companies do not have the same attitude as the management team at mailblocks.

    I hope this wonderful facility will never fade away, but I guess as you get bigger, and start to receive thousands of mails a day you�ll probably step away from answering mails personally addressed to you.

    Compliment your team for the wonderful product and keep up the good work.

    Best regards,


    —–Original Message—–
    From: Phil Goldman []
    Sent: 18 November 2003 10:30
    Subject: RE: Holiday Gift from Mailblocks

    We are planning to update it. It�s easy to make the change, but we try to roll out all of the features in upgrades to the service rather than individually. We�ll have another upgrade in the next few weeks. The gift release was really about raising the limits.


    From: Donnelly [mailto:xx]
    Sent: Monday, November 17, 2003 8:30 AM
    To: ‘Phil Goldman’
    Subject: RE: Holiday Gift from Mailblocks

    Dear Phil,

    Thank you for the holiday gift from mailblocks!

    Going back to my previous mentioned correspondence (see below), regarding �custom challenge must be less than 255 characters�, do you foresee a plan to increase this quantity. I feel it to be important to provide a personal message with some feeling.

    Can you update me, regarding the feedback from the development team. Normally, this should be a simple process to increase the amount of usable characters.

    Reference point 2 automatic checking of accounts, do you foresee this being reduced from 2 hours?



    —–Original Message—–
    From: Phil Goldman []
    Sent: 03 November 2003 09:45
    Subject: RE: Ways and means of improving the mailblocks services

    These are great suggestions. I’ll forward them to our development team so that we can address them in an upcoming service upgrade. Thanks very much for using Mailblocks. -Phil

    From: Donnelly [mailto:xx]
    Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2003 2:00 AM
    To: ‘Phil Goldman’
    Subject: Ways and means of improving the mailblocks services

    Dear Mr. Goldman,

    I am just getting to grips with mailblocks, and to be honest it seems like you have a wonderful product.

    There are a couple of points I would like to make, so as you can continue to improve and provide a service that meets your customers needs.

    Point 1:

    The mails on the external accounts could do with being checked / updated more often than once every 2 hours. My suggestion would be 30 � 60 Minutes.
    2 hours is appropriate for non-business affiliated persons, but in the year 2003 where time is money, these checking intervals are to long!
    People don�t like to have to do things manually, it�s an inconvenience. (The process of loging into your mailblocks web client and clicking “check” is an unnecessary process)!

    Can you endeavour to reduce the checking time?

    Point 2:

    I am multi lingual user and have to deal with customers from France, Germany and Spain. Therefore when they get the challenge response question it appears only in English. People not understanding the language may seem a little concerned clicking the link to an unknown website.

    I have wanted to change my challenges, howether I am limited to 255 characters. That�s an insufficient amount of characters, for me to provide a personal message regarding the challenge response process (in the various languages required). I enclose a typical example of what I would like to say in my challenge response text

    (The automatically generated text is a little informal and could do with something a little more harmonious).

    Recently you sent an email to the following email address (
    Due to the vast amount of Spam (unsolicited messages), I have had to resort to a more reliable and secure way of handling my emails.
    I would ask that you click on the link below, where you will be taken to an authorisation page. On this page 2 boxes will appear, 1 with a series of numbers and the other is to be filled with the numbers shown. It�s a short and simple process and once authorised you will not have to repeat this process.
    I thank you for your patience and look forward to receiving your email shortly.



    Can you increase the amount of characters allowed, or place countries flags below with corresponding text indicating the process?

    The USA has its fair share of Spanish speaking people, and I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

    Both points are made to improve the service supplied by mailblocks, I hope that you listen to customers� feedback only for the point of improvement of the service, and by far this is not a criticism.

    I look forward to many years of spam free mail.




  19. If anybody has the real know how to re-create this little beauty of an email service, i registered Would love to carry on the goldman philosophy “the customer comes 1st and service is what we offer” contact me. many thanks P Donnelly


  20. I totally agree that the *pre-AOL* was a *great* system.

    I can now confirm that you’re also absolutely right that the putative replacement, in the form of a free AIM Web mail account, is nowhere near as good. Most specifically, the Mailblocks challenge-response method of blocking spam is not available in an AIM Web mail account; will it ever be?

    Yet again, some MBAs (I’ll leave it others to decide what the “A” stands for) have decided to “improve” things by acquiring a very good service, then removing virtually all of its unique and useful functionality.

    By the by, it’s not free but take a look at…


  21. Spam Arrest is offering a free trial here: (no credit card required, which is nice).

    They don’t have IMAP like mailblocks (a feature I will miss), but the challenge/response works flawlessly and they have the ability to forward authenticated mail to another address, so if I find a good IMAP provider I will do that.


  22. Hey Eric,

    It is possible to setup imap with spamarrest, please see attached documentation:

    Hi ,
    > Setting up an IMAP account is no different than setting up a POP3
    > account. Simply use and set it up as an IMAP
    > server instead of POP3.
    > Let me know if you need any help with this and I can give you exact
    > instructions.
    > Michael

    It seems like spamarrest are half way there, there are a few thing missing that mailblocks had, although there support team have been fantastic! 3 questions sent and 3 questions answered within 45 mins. Great stuff spamarrest, lets fill in the missing blanks – show the unverified (pending) folder in the imap folders and the ability to permanently delete emails within outlook (I deleted the mails once, why do i need to do it a second time? – Purge deleted messages under the edit tab.


  23. Pingback: Gary Said...

  24. I’ve been using Spamarrest for just over a year but after reading the below article I was disguisted and have now cancelled my account.

    To summarise: Spamarrest harvest your addressbook/whitelist and user verified email addresses and then spam it. Their privacy policy also gives them the option to sell this list. I don’t know if they have but if not I’m sure it’s a matter of time.


  25. Dear Mr. Carpenter,

    As requested several times, I would ask that you please be so kind to remove my contact details from your blog.

    For personal reasons i ask and would expect you to react accordingly?

    I am sure people reading this blog would have no objection? Therefore please honor my request at the earliest opportunity!

    Kind Regards

    P Donnelly


  26. Spam arrest is spamming me!
    They’ve either sold my name to spammers or are themselves spamming me. Don’t even think about joining spam arrest. They’re a scam. Once they have your info, you’re screwed.

    I recently joined spam arrest when I was looking for ways to eliminate spam. I hated their user interface and couldn’t figure out how to get their program to work with my email. I soon ran out of patience and cancelled my account. They asked for comments when I cancelled so I wrote a scathing review of their product and their stupid help which provides no help. I think I pissed someone off. Since then, I have been inundated by more spam messages a day than I’ve ever received before. They’re getting through my regular mail filter and worst, they are addressed directly to my name!!! I never got these many messages before I joined them. I hate them!!!!


  27. I have been a loyal “paying” member of Spamarrest for a while and the last few months their service has gone down in reliability. They have lost emails and the service has gone down.
    Today I canceled my recently renewed account with them and asked for a refund of the unused portion of my service. Here is their reply!

    “Hi David,

    Thanks once again.

    David, I am very sorry to tell you that we are not able to offer you a refund for your account. You may continue to use your Spam Arrest account till 2008-10-01 by reactivating the account.

    I truly apologize for your inconvenience, David. Please do let me know if you need anything else.

    Best Regards,
    Technical Support Specialist
    Spam Arrest”


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