My mum uses BT as her broadbrand provider. I’m not sure if it’s called ‘BT Openworld’, ‘BT Yahoo!’, ‘BT Internet’ or ‘BT Total Broadbrand’. Nice one, branding folks. Anyway, if you don’t want to use the email address they provide for you then sending email can be a little fiddly, because they seem to block access to all SMTP servers other than their own. So you’re forced to send email from your non-BT address through BT mail servers, which can require a little gentle gymnastics depending on your email program. But it’s not impossible. Until today when it started beeping with a “553” error.
It looks like people have been having a similar problem for ten days now:
BT Yahoo SMTP mail client configuration
We are aware that some BT Yahoo users are having difficulty sending email via their email clients. We would like to remind customers that they need to put their @btinternet.com address in the FROM box of the email client. Please contact the helpdesk should you have any queries.
12 March 2008 02:38PM
Less than helpful for all those people who have non-btinternet.com email addresses. Still, the error helpfully has a link to further explanation. Which is very handy, but also a little confusing, seeing as the help is all about Yahoo! Mail, which my mum never uses. Still, we’ll give it a go.
The instructions basically say: “If you’re going to send email from your own custom email address, we want to confirm it exists before we let you. So add the address to your Yahoo! account.” Simple enough. Except, if you log in to Yahoo! using your BT email address and password, the pages you see bear no relation to those described in the instructions. (Even if you guess correctly that you should log in with these details, which is far from obvious, given the page says nothing at all about BT.)
If you manage to navigate to your account information, the only likely place to add an email address is the various “Profiles” you can set up. Maybe one of these can hold the custom email address. But if you create a new one, or edit an existing one, the only email-related possibility shows a novel use of HTML radio buttons: a single unchecked button next to your BT email address. Use this email address with this profile or… er, not. No real luck there.
We’ll leave out the intervening period of time during which you search the web and Usenet trying to find a solution and cut straight to the solution, for anyone who themselves got here by Googling. [Insert montage of keyboard tapping, mice clicking, search boxes being filled, curses uttered.]
Less than obviously, for someone who signed up to BT’s broadband, you must visit www.btyahoo.com which, currently, redirects you to http://www2.bt.com/static/i/btretail/consumer/broadband/btyahoo/. Then you need to click “Sign in”.
No! Wait! Not the “Log in” link at the top of the page. That will ask you to log in to your BT account. You want to click the red “Sign in” button on the right to “make the most of your online experience” and “Sign in to BT Yahoo! Online”. Of course, silly you.
Then, after a bit more redirecting, you’ll end up at login.yahoo.com (the third top-level domain and brand of our brief excursion) where you should log in with your BT email address and password.
You’ll then be at your all singing and dancing “BT Yahoo! Home Page!” Ignore the animated advert (currently from BT, “Bringing it all together”) and look toward the bottom of the left-hand column, under “BT Y! Services”. Click the “Mail” link.
We’ll now, finally, be where those original instructions expected us to be in the first place. Except in point 2, for “Yahoo! Mail Classic” there is no “Mail Addresses” text to click and you’ll need to click “Mail Accounts” instead. From there it is, mercifully, all about following the instructions.
I hope this has helped you if you were Googling your 553 error message.
It shouldn’t be this hard should it? These re-brandings and partnerships (between BT and Yahoo!) are no doubt touted as “adding value” for consumers, creating exciting synergies, maximising value, etc. Well take your brands and shove them. I don’t care. Every time you change or add a brand you’re confusing people. Yes, “people”, like you are Mr/Ms Brand Manager, not the plebian other of “consumers”.
If I’m paying for your service, a service whose helpline costs even more money, I don’t expect to be sent to a help page that requires me to guess which of your brands I have to visit, then which service I have to log in to, and then travel through three different brands before I reach a destination that bears a passing resemblance to the first instructions.
Never mind forcing people into this tortuous branded hell purely for having the temerity of wanting to use their own email address, rather than your own branded one, in the first place.
UPDATE: Thanks for the comments everyone — good to know this has been useful to you. I just posted a quick update on the affair. (25 Mar 2008)