What the F…?

Posted on Tuesday 13 March 2012

Don’t panic that F… doesn’t stand for what you think it does, read on…

So my wife ran into problems with her email a couple of days ago. She uses the latest version of Thunderbird for her email and our Internet provider is Rogers.

Rogers, for what ever reason, uses Yahoo mail services. I certainly hope Yahoo gets a cut of Rogers income, because Rogers has a LOT of customers…. Anyways, it’s the combination of all three that led more to this rant/article 😯  than anything else.

Her email has been working fine for a long, long LONG time, then all at once, it refuses to send any more emails, it recieves fine, but you can’t send anything out. I can log in and send, and I can send from other packages but Thunderbird wont send…. or to be more specific Yahoo wont let Thunderbird send anything…. all you get is this wonderfully cryptic email (with a link that doesn’t work!)

Transaction failed : Cannot send message due to possible abuse; please visit http://postmaster.yahoo.com/abuse_smtp.html for more information

(If you want to avoid my rant and go right to THE SOLUTION at the bottom.)

Now I KNOW BETTER, but for some reason, while I was testing the email through Rogers portal (which of course worked) there was a little box that said, Click Here for live technical support and I did…. yeah I know. And while I could argue that I had a headache, was tired, and in a hurry, there really is no good excuse… I did it. 😳

So up popped “Valentino” to walk my through my problems, thankfully, or probably because I was already online trying to chat with him, he didn’t start off by asking if my computer/monitor/router/modem was turned on. 😯

Upon seeing the error he responded that the problem seemed to be between Thunderbird and Yahoo… ummmm that is what is being used at both ends yes…. and then recommends that if I turn off all HTML formatting and just send all emails in plain text (ie no pictures, bold, formatting, charts, etc etc.) that all would be well… 😆  Okay so if I roll the clock back say 20+ years in email formatting it will work…. ummm NO. That wasn’t an option.

He then argued that he tried Google mail and other mail services using HTML and it worked fine, but her Thunderbird didn’t… it kept coming up with an error (the same error that I had already told him about by the way – which comes from Yahoo). So “obviously” the problem is with Thunderbird, which as far as he is now concerned is an unsupported program. 👿

Now what is interesting is that he also randomly throws in a couple of links at the end of this bit, which ‘sort of’ hold the key and he ‘sort of ‘ addresses it. But without actually mentioning what ‘IT’ is.

So while I am going on about how this is not an option, ‘Valentino’ continues on telling me how I will need to change all email output to plain text in future…. finally he catches up with my arguments and says he ‘understands’ and is only trying to give me work arounds (without actually saying what it is I’m trying to work around) and gives me another ‘work around’. Now he wants me to change the white background on her email to a different shade of white, not much just a little…. 😡  I KID YOU NOT! Arrgghhhhh. I lose it 🙁

I am also beginning to think I’m talking to a machine, more that a person. ‘Valentino’s’ argument is that Thunderbird is an unsupported program and he is giving me a ‘fix’ for it. My argument is that the problem is at their end, and they need to fix it! I ask to speak to  someone higher in authority, ‘Valentiono’ says sorry, no , there is no one available for an ,unsupported program’… I give up in disgust and go look on my own…. Here is the full transcript, with all it’s warts, for your enjoyment/mutual frustration….

5:05 PM You have granted full permission to Technician. To revoke, click the red X on the toolbar or press Pause/Break on the keyboard.
5:06 PM Connecting…
5:06 PM Connected. A support representative will be with you shortly.
5:06 PM Support session established with Valentino.
5:06 PM Valentino: Hello and thank you for choosing Rogers Hi-Speed Internet. How may I help you today?
5:06 PM Rick: We are getting an error when trying to send email from the server
5:06 PM Rick: sorry – we are using Thunderbird and Yahoo is creating the error
5:07 PM Rick: Transaction failed : Cannot send message due to possible abuse; please visit http://postmaster.yahoo.com/abuse_smtp.html for more information
5:08 PM Rick: By the way – that page doesn’t exist
5:08 PM Valentino: whast your email address and program that you are uisng
5:08 PM Rick: beetham@rogers.com and the email package is Thunderbird
5:09 PM Valentino: This issue appears to be something between ThunderBird’s HTML mail format and YAHOO’s servers. If you change your email format to plain text, it sends just fine. As a test of ThudderBird’s HTML format I sent HTML formatted mail via gmail, and hotmail with no issues.
With your forward-to or reply-to message open, go to
Options…Format and set to “Plain Text Only” (i.e., not HTML). If
you’re creating a new message, you have to set not-HTML by going to
Account Settings…Composition.
In summary: I was unable to send messages and got the “Cannot send
message due to possible abuse” message. When I made sure the message
was not composed using HTML, then the message sends fine. “””
5:10 PM Rick: The email is addressed to two other rogers.com accounts and one bmtnet.com account all valid account holders
5:10 PM Rick: So you are trying to deliver the email? It’s got a Sending Messages window up now and is stuck at 79%
5:11 PM Valentino: you will need to that for all of them
5:11 PM Rick: Email seems to work fine with every email except that one – changing it to text only will destroy the formatting of the current message
5:12 PM Rick: Telling me I have to “dumb down” the email isn’t a solution – it’s a work around. HTML email should work fine… it has in the past
5:13 PM Valentino: i understand, its not a supported program but I am providing a workaround for you..you canalso try this one if you wish
5:13 PM Valentino: Changing the default background colour from #FFFFFF (white) to anything else absolutely works. I changed the value to #FFFFFE (only one value away from white) in Config Editor (Preferences/Advanced/General/Config Editor.)

msgcompose.background_color = #FFFFFE

This is a successful work-around that does not look noticibly different than a white background..
5:15 PM Rick: Again – no. There is a problem at YOUR end. Tweaking colors etc should not and is NOT a fix.
5:16 PM Rick: Sorry I’m stunned – i’ve worked in computers for over 25 years and managed some of the best in the business (support personnel) I would fire anyone that tried to tell any of my users that this was a ‘Fix’
5:16 PM Valentino: other programs works fine
5:17 PM Rick: And so does Thunderbird until this email – the error comes from YAHOO servers not Thunderbird – ergo….
5:18 PM Valentino: I apologize for whats happening, its not a supported program and i am giving you a solution that works, there is not much i can do regarding the issue
5:19 PM Rick: You really are quite useless then…. is there anyone else I should talk to or should I just wait until YOUR problem goes away?

5:21 PM Valentino: there is no one else for an unsupported program
5:21 PM Valentino: You can try removing and readding the account to Thunderbird. If it does not work, you would need to troubleshoot with Mozilla or try a differnt email client.
5:23 PM Rick: You really don’t know anything about computer support do you – of all the stupid answers. I can’t wait to write about this on my blog – it’ll go viral…. what a waste of time

5:24 PM Rick: Good bye 5:24 PM Valentino: You’re welcome and thank you for choosing Rogers Live Chat Support.

Well that was fun…. er not…. but you can see why it looks like it’s an attempt at an AI response. Also note that he tells me maybe I could deltee her account and re-add it, or maybe just go with another email client. Essentially just going down a list of things that would make the error code go away… ergo, in Rogers opinion, make things work… But here is the kicker, the problem isn’t and has NEVER been with Thunderbird but with Yahoo! See that lovely setting up above, where ‘Valentino’ recommended I change the background color a little – msgcompose.background_color = #FFFFFE

Well it appears that, for what ever reason, Yahoo servers randomly choke on the background color if it is set to all F’s in upper case when coming from Thunderbird…. silly, strange, but true. if  your settings in Thunderbird are msgcompose.background_color = #FFFFFF Yahoo will eventually declare all your mail as originating Spam…. if you change the settings to lower case f’s as in msgcompose.background_color = #ffffff everything will be fine! 🙄

By the way, for those less technically astute – it’s the SAME COLOR!!!!!!! 👿

The answer was in the links that ‘Valentino” so randomly popped into the conversation. It’s a known problem with Yahoo servers which has been going on for a very VERY long time – go figure. You know a real person should have acknowledged that yes there is a problem at Yahoo and unfortunately this is what you need to do to fix it…. instead of telling a client that their software is unsupported and they need to send only in text format  – forever more! SAY WHAT!

By the way, the reason the change from HTML to plain text works…. no colors! What a simple easy STUPID workaround! May we one day be saved from stupid AI’s and help desk people who don’t know, nor care what your problem really is.


You can go to the link  forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=2441147 to get all the background on this if you want. But here is the work around for Yahoo’s screw up:

  • Go to the Thunderbird menu bar
  • Click on Tools > Options > Advanced
  • In the General Tab press the “Config Editor” button
  • Note the warning message and click that you will promise to be careful
  • Scroll down, or search in the top window to get to the setting msgcompose.background_color
  • Double click on that line
  • Change the #FFFFFF to #ffffff ( the same color )
  • Click on “OK”
  • Close the Config Editor
  • Problem Solved!

Oh, one other little tidbit, if you have any drafts pending, you will need to copy and paste them into a new email in order to get rid of the #FFFFFF that is embedded in the draft…

Strange but sadly true….

End Article

Please Add Your Comment. PLEASE NOTE: Your comments WILL be held until authorized by the webmaster.