CrystalTech, CFMail & FailTo

So The Pencilcase has a built-in mailing module — it allows users to send out newsletters, or generic messages to site users with a really handy configuration tool. However, since mid-August, a couple of sites have been experiencing problems with this —- chiefly that the messages weren’t being sent out. We weren’t getting any bounces, and the log files weren’t showing any errors. As far as the CF Server was concerned, the system was working just fine.

Today, I finally took the time to investigate the cause of this problem. And, it turns out, it’s a wacky one: CrystalTech, who physically hosts our sites, has a strict policy on their Mail Servers that any bounces must go to the specified from address. The failto attribute of CFMail allows us to specify a different address, and for all sorts of reasons, we have that set to send to a specific address for us to track.

Now, our mail had been working fine with this failto address specified for a long time. So I imagine that this change at CrystalTech must be new(ish), although I’m not sure when they started enforcing this. So if you’re using <cfmail> at CrystalTech, be aware that you cannot use the failto attribute in any useful manner.

Update: It appears that this failure scenario actually only occurs if the failto is in a different domain than the sender’s email. Seeing as always failto a pencilneck.net account, from all of our domains, this is failing. I suppose I could see this might have been done to prevent some spam type thing somehow, but CT has already enforced the from address being a valid sender on a domain, and using a valid username & password to login to the SMTP server. So this just seems a little excessive now…