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Amazon Simple Email Service
Developer Guide (API Version 2010-12-01)

Amazon SES Complaints Through ISP Feedback Loops FAQ

This topic provides information about complaints that Amazon SES receives through feedback loops. For general information that applies to all types of complaints, see the Amazon SES Complaint FAQ.

Q1. How is this type of complaint reported?

Most email client programs provide a button labeled "Mark as Spam," or similar, which moves the message to a spam folder and forwards it to the ISP. Additionally, most ISPs maintain an abuse address (e.g., abuse@example.net), where users can forward unwanted emails and request that the ISP take action to prevent them. If the Amazon SES has a feedback loop (FBL) set up with the ISP, then the ISP will send the complaint back to Amazon SES.

Q2. Are these complaints included in the complaint rate statistic shown in the Amazon SES console and returned by the GetSendStatistics API?

Yes. Note, however, that the complaint rate statistic does not include complaints from ISPs that do not provide feedback to Amazon SES. Nevertheless, the complaint rate from domains that provide feedback is likely to be representative of the rest of your sending as well.

Q3. How can I be notified of these complaints?

You can be notified through email or through Amazon SNS notifications. See the set-up instructions in Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications.

Q4. What should I do if I receive a complaint notification through email or through Amazon SNS?

First, you need to remove addresses that generated complaints from your mailing list and stop sending mail to them immediately. Do not even send an email that says you have received the request to unsubscribe. You will probably want to set up automation for this process, either by programmatically processing the mailbox where you receive complaints, or by setting up complaint notifications through Amazon SNS. For more information, see Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications.

Then, take a close look at your sending to determine why your recipients do not appreciate the mail you are sending, and address that underlying problem. For every person who complains, there are potentially dozens who didn't appreciate your mail who did not (or were not able to) complain. If all you do is remove the recipients who actually complain, you are not addressing the underlying problem with your sending.

Q5. Do you disclose the Amazon SES complaint rate limits that trigger probation and suspension?

No, but you can find general complaint rate guidelines and tips on how to avoid complaints in the Amazon Simple Email Service Email Sending Best Practices whitepaper.

Q6. Over what period of time is my complaint rate calculated?

We don't calculate your complaint rate based on a fixed period of time, because different senders send at different rates. Instead, we look at what is called a representative volume, which represents a reasonable amount of mail with which to evaluate your sending practices. To be fair to both high-volume and small-volume senders, the representative volume is different for each user and changes as the user's sending patterns change. Additionally, the complaint rate isn't calculated based on every email. It is calculated as the percentage of complaints on mail sent to domains that send complaint feedback to Amazon SES.

Q7. Can I calculate my own complaint rate by using metrics from the Amazon SES console or the GetSendStatistics API?

No. There are two primary reasons for this:

  • The complaint rate is calculated using representative volume (see Q6). Depending on your sending rate, your complaint rate can stretch farther back in time than the Amazon SES console or GetSendStatistics can retrieve. However, if you regularly monitor your complaint rates using those methods, you should still have a good indicator that you can use to catch problems before they get to levels that trigger a probation or suspension.

  • When calculating complaint rate, not every email counts. Complaint rate is calculated as the percentage of complaints on mail sent to domains that send complaint feedback to Amazon SES.

Q8. How can I find out which email addresses complained?

Examine the complaint notifications that Amazon SES sends you through email or through Amazon SNS (see Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications). However, different ISPs provide differing amounts of information, and some ISPs redact the complained recipient's email address before passing the complaint notification to Amazon SES. To enable you to find the recipient's email address in the future, your best option is to store your own mapping between an identifier and the Amazon SES message ID that Amazon SES passes back to you when it accepts the email. Note that Amazon SES does not retain any custom message IDs that you add.

Q9. If I haven't been monitoring my complaints, can you give me a list of addresses that have complained?

Unfortunately, we can't give you a comprehensive list. However, you can monitor future complaints by email or through Amazon SNS.

Q10. Can I get a sample email?

We cannot send you a sample email upon request, but you might find this information in the complaint notification. See the answer to Q8.