Every week or so, a user of our daily email service contacts us to say that an email has not arrived.
Very occasionally this is because they have cancelled the service by replying to one of the emails (or sometimes their email system has done it for them, for instance because they are away on holiday). If this happens to you, you can easily restart the emails – using the web site if you used the web site to set them up, or, if you set them up using an app, by using the app.
Much more often, nothing has been cancelled, and the daily emails have been sent and accepted correctly. This is what this post is about.
The post, and dogs
When you take out a subscription to a magazine, the publisher may talk about delivering the magazine to you every week or month, but this is not true. They do not. They deliver the magazine to your letter-box.
Whether this results in you receiving the magazine depends on your dog. Some dogs will treat things coming through the letter-box as a threat, and chew them to shreds.
In which case the magazine has been delivered to your address, but not to you – and there is nothing the publisher can do. They can’t control your dog.
Your emails, and dogs
We talk about sending you emails, but of course we don’t really. We send emails to your email address. We send emails to the computer which (according to the Internet) is designated as the mail server for your email address. (For example, if you have an email address
@gmail.com, the computer will have a romantic and memorable name such as
The computer to which we have sent the email confirms to our mail server that our email has been (a) received and (b) accepted for delivery to you. (In the case of
@gmail.com, Google’s computer says “
OK 1416625904 j9ti19004277wjf.10 - gsmtp“, with every received email getting a unique code number). The postal analogy would be the postman hearing the thud as the magazine hits your doormat.
But there is still the dog.
One of the things you pay your email service provider for is not to deliver certain emails to you, often because it decides that they are spam.
If your email service provider decides to chew up an email we send you instead of letting you have it, there is nothing we can do. It is entirely between your email service provider and you. You are the boss, and if they are chewing your incoming emails and losing them, you have to tell them to stop. No one else can.
If you ask us “what happened to my emails?” we’ll happily look up our logs and quote the acknowledgement code that your email service provider gave us. It may help them to discover what they did with an email you wanted, and learn to behave better in the future.