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Cox Blocking POP Services By Third-Parties

Nothing irritates a customer more than limiting their ability to use your product or service without first consulting them, or at least posting a notice on your website.

While I don't usually name specific companies in this medium, Cox High-Speed Internet (or Cox Media) is not a current customer. I'm sharing only my personal experiences which may or may not be a reflection of the experiences of other customers.

Competing heavily with Comcast and Road Runner; Cox High-Speed Internet services decides to block access to POP services hosted by third-parties. (POP services are how 92% of Internet users check email accounts on servers hosted over the Internet.) In a lengthy conversation with technical support, it was explained this action prevents possible forging of mail headers that lead to Fraudulent Email Involving Cox and Ebay.

As someone who spends most of their time working from a home office, it is a relief to interact with my customers using high-speed Internet access instead of the dial-up services I usually have available on travel. According to a recent Broadband Scorecard by PC Magazine, 60% of other broadband users also enjoy this faster access to email.

From technical support, I also learned this decision to block POP services was passed down from the corporate office -- that's hundreds of thousands of customers impaired by this decision. Why is this a bad decision?

First, blocking access to third-party POP servers doesn't solve the problem -- especially since anyone who has the knowledge to exploit the problem can just change the access port and get around the block. How often do you see solution cause more irritation than actually fixing a problem?

Secondly, the problem they had was people forging the "cox.net" domain name. Forged domain names have little or nothing to do with POP servers, or accessing POP mail. The POP protocol is to allow remote checking of mail sent to another address. There are a number of technical constraints like MX records, and mail routing that prevents the message from one domain to be received by another.

The solution taken has nothing to do with the problem and causes more inconvenience to customers than taking no action at all.

This action will likely damage Cox Communications' commercial contracts including the recently signed agreement with Mandalay Resort Group to offer high-speed Internet service. All those business travelers who want to check their email while on the road will experience the same blocked access.

[Ed. Cox High-Speed Internet offered the following work around: 1) change the port POP services uses on the third-party server, or 2) install Virtual Private Network access. Neither of these solutions is viable for this situation, nor would be useful to someone who wants to quickly check his or her email.]

/ business-success | customer-service /

By Justin Hitt at September 12, 2003 5:49 PM  Subscribe in a reader


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Cox Blocking POP Services By Third-Parties:

» Update On Port Filtering By Cox High Speed Internet from Building Business Relationships
There is no other high speed Internet service provider which irritates me more than Cox Communications, here's detail on the ongoing saga to get access to my email. [Read More]

Tracked on January 11, 2010 9:14 PM

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