AOL transmitting 4xx error for user unknown


AOL is currently returning “451 4.3.0 <>: Temporary lookup failure” in some cases when they really mean “550 user unknown.” This message from AOL should be treated as 5xx failure and the message should not be retried (if at all possible) and the failure should be counted as a hard bounce for list management purposes.
This is something broken at AOL’s end, and the guys with the magic fingers that keep the system running are working to fix it. Right now there doesn’t seem to be an ETA on a fix, though.
Even if you are a sender who is able to stop the retries, you may see some congestion and delays when sending to AOL for the time being. Senders who don’t get the message, or who are unable to stop their MTAs from retrying 4xx mail will continue to attempt delivery of these messages until their servers time out. This may cause congestion for everyone and a noticeable  slowdown on the AOL MTAs.
AOL blog post on the issue
HT: Annalivia

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