Every once in a while a sender comes to us with a sense of entitlement, or even righteous indignation, about how this inbox provider or that ISP should, or must, or even has to, accept their email. Whether because it’s “requested” or opt-in or because it “complies with CAN-SPAM”, the sender gets all in our face about how a given ISP has a responsibility, and a duty, and an obligation to accept their email. Sometimes they even rant that it’s required by {CAN-SPAM| tort law | the 1st Amendment | insert your favorite rant here}.

Except, that’s completely wrong. Whether it should be or not is a different discussion for a different day (although we’re sure you can figure out on which side of that argument we fall), but regardless of how you or we or they feel, an ISP has no obligation to accept your email. Period. In fact, in the United States our Federal anti-spam law, CAN-SPAM, specifically exempts ISPs from any liability for refusing to accept and deliver email, of any sort, whether from you, or us, or heck, the President of the United States. In fact, an ISP (by which we include inbox providers) can refuse your or anybody else’s email for any reason. In fact, they don’t even have to have a reason! It’s right there in CAN-SPAM.

CAN-SPAM Says that ISPs Do Not Have to Deliver Your Email

Section 8(c) of CAN-SPAM says that “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on the lawfulness or unlawfulness, under any other provision of law, of the adoption, implementation, or enforcement by a provider of Internet access service of a policy of declining to transmit, route, relay, handle, or store certain types of electronic mail messages.”

So that’s how it is. Accept it.

Now, all that said, the ISPs aren’t on power trips, and they don’t just discard email willy nilly.

No, the ISPs answer to an even higher authority, their users. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, when an ISP junk folders or discards an email as ‘spam’, it’s because their users are telling them that it’s spam. Conversely, if ISPs don’t deliver email that their users actually want, their users will vote with their feet, and the ISP may find itself out of business.

So what’s the lesson here?

The Lesson to Be Learned in Order to Get Your Email Delivered

The lesson here is that ISPs want and need to deliver email that their users want. But they don’t have a duty to deliver your email just because you think that their users may want it, and most especially if their users are telling them that they don’t want it by hitting “this is spam” on your email, or even if they are just leaving it unopened in their inbox, or deleting it unopened.

It’s your job to show the inbox providers and other ISPs that your email is wanted, and isn’t spam, whether you do that on your own, or with the help of a service like ours.

Having a Sense of Entitlement Will Not Help You Get Your Email Delivered

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