Earlier this week a question came up on a mailing list. The questioner recently started seeing an increase in rejections to @aol.com addresses. These rejections said
<email@example.com>: host mailin-03.mx.aol.com[188.8.131.52] said: 550 We would love to have gotten this email to firstname.lastname@example.org. But, your recipient never logged onto their free AIM Mail account. Please contact them and let them know that they’re missing out on all the super features offered by AIM Mail. And by the way, they’re also missing out on your email. Thanks. (in reply to RCPT TO command)<email@example.com>
The poster was confused because the addresses were aol.com addresses that had successfully delivered in the past. He was unsure why AOL would be rejecting good aol.com addresses with the aim.com.
After some investigation and some discussion with a friendly AOL representative, the underlying reason for this sudden increase in rejections became clear. The mailer was seeing an increase for two interacting reasons.
- When an AOL user abandons their account, AOL converts the account to a free aim.com address. That is why the aol.com addresses were getting the aim.com rejection.
- The marketing group at the company who saw the rejections “dug deep into their database” and sent mail to a number of addresses that had not received email in a while.
The increase in bounces is the result of pulling older addresses and the @aol.com addresses getting @aim.com bounces is the result of AOL’s policy of converting abandoned aol addresses to aim addresses.