[thelist] Handling bounced mail

Steve Cook steve.cook at evitbe.com
Wed Oct 23 06:23:01 CDT 2002

Hi folks!

we have offered a client a system for sending a mail newsletter to their
customer club members. They have said that we get the job if we can help
clean up their database after we send the first mail. They expect that as
many as 5000 of the addresses they have will bounce when we send the first
mail and they want us to be able to assemble a list of customer numbers from
the bounced mails so they can clean up their database.

We've come across this problem before, but always handled it manually.
However handling 5000 bounced mails is going to take at least a week of
someone's time. It seems to me that we should be able to automate at least
some of the process.

Our mail server uses Exchange and experience tells me that bounced mail
takes many different forms. What we need is a fairly simple way of sorting
out the majority of the bounces from the replies, holiday messages, delayed
deliveries, full mailboxes and all the other responses one usually gets from
a mailout.

The problem is that in a bounced mail, the original sender address is
usually in the body of the bounced mail along with various status messages
etc. Sometimes it's in an attched file. Sometimes it's in the headers. We
could write a script to handle the most common recognised bounces, but it
would probably take more time than we save.

What I'm hoping is that someone out there has come up against the same
probblem and that there's a nifty solution just waiting to be used. Cheers
for any ideas!


 Cookstour - http://www.cookstour.org

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