Category Archives: Scams

What Is DMARC and Why Is It Important?

Originally Posted on the RBLTracker Blacklist Monitoring Blog.

dmarc_blogDMARC, or “Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance”, allows a domain owner to publish policies in DNS, telling remote mailers what to do with messages that do not align with these polices. DMARC is built on top of two existing technologies: SPF, or “Sender Policy Framework”, and DKIM, or “DomainKeys Identified Mail”.

By publishing a DMARC policy via DNS, domain owners can instruct remote mailers on what to do with messages that do not pass either a SPF or DKIM test. It also provides a mechanism for reporting under those policies. This gives remote mailers a channel for letting domain owners know that they received messages that did or did not align with those policies.

Why Is This Good?

The main goal of DMARC (and SPF and DKIM), is to detect and prevent email spoofing. For example, phishing scams that are designed to look like they’re coming from your bank or Paypal, prompting you to click on a link to reset your password or to give them your information.

Ultimately, SPF and DKIM are doing the hard work here. By designating email systems that are permitted to send email for a domain, and by cryptographically signing messages to avoid header modification en-route.

But DMARC ties the two technologies together, providing a single interface for instructing remote mailers on the domains policies, and actions to take when not met. It also opens up the possibilities of adding additional anti-spoofing or SPAM control software, which could also be handled under the DMARC umbrella.

For Example

As a domain owner of, I can publish both SPF and DKIM records identifying my mail system (x.x.x.x) as the only authorized mail relay for my domain. I can then publish a DMARC record that tells remote mailers, that they should reject any messages that do not pass both a SPF and DKIM check, and that they should send reports to to let me know if and when this happens.

A DMARC policy record, via a DNS TXT record, using the hostname, would look something like this:


If a remote mail receives an inbound email from an email address, but not from my mail system (x.x.x.x), the SPF check should fail, and they should reject the email in accordance with my DMARC policy.

Technologies like DMARC, SPF, and DKIM are great tools in the seemingly never ending fight against email SPAM and spoofing.

For more information, see:

The Decline of Customer Service – and How It’s Mostly the Consumers Fault

I recently wrote an article about my experiences dealing with Wind Mobile’s Customer Service, while I was trying to get a cell phone set up for my brother.

In the end, Wind admitted that they couldn’t actually provide service for my brother in his area, but rather than refunding his money, they offered him a $100 credit, but only if he remained a customer… which we obviously declined.

After writing the article, we received thousands of supportive messages from people all over the world, through Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, email, and comments on my article. I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the response from the masses- I couldn’t be more grateful.

But I did notice two overwhelming themes in the messages I received, and both point to a very sad state for Customer Service.

The first type: “I know how you feel, the same thing happened to me.”

The “misery loves company” type; I received message after message from other Wind customers (sometimes they weren’t even Wind customers) about how they were mistreated in a similar fashion- and sometimes the only common element in our two stories, was that we both felt ripped off.


As a consumer, we felt like the company took advantage of us, or wasn’t fair, and we just had to accept that and move on- we had no recourse.

The second type: “You should have known better”

This was actually a big surprise to me. I’m a pretty pessimistic person as it is, but I was blown away by the number of people that blamed me, and said “that I should have known better than to trust Wind”, or “why would you believe what they told you?”

I believe that consumers should be smart about their purchases; they should do their homework and understand what they’re getting in to when they sign something. But I also think that companies have a responsibility to be honest about their products and services and own up to it when they can’t or won’t deliver.

In my case, I had Wind Mobile insisting over the course of a month, that the cell coverage in my brothers area was “good, and definitely not the problem”, only to find out in the end, that it’s NOT good, and WAS definitely the problem.


Even with their lies, or at best, completely uninformed (intentionally or otherwise) staff, I had people saying that I should have known better than to believe them.

Is that really where we are? Consumers being trained to not trust anything that comes out of a company representative’s mouth, and if we fall for it, it’s our own fault for believing them?

Good Customer Service shouldn’t be a “niche” market for smaller guys to distinguish themselves.

Not a huge surprise, but the bigger companies are the worst offenders. It doesn’t really affect them as much if they lose a customer here or there- it’s the CODB, and in a lot of cases, the customer needs the service more than the company needs the customer. So consumers feel trapped- and simply put up with whatever the company tries to get away with.

The reality is, that if enough customers refuse to accept what they’re handing out; choose not to accept their excessive pricing, their arbitrary rules, and their poor customer service, we could make a difference; we could force them to change and put honesty before profits- or at least, “more’ of the profits towards being honest and fair.

… but we won’t. Most people, after years of putting up with it, don’t believe they can actually make a difference, so they become complacent and apathetic, and sometimes, in an ironic, Stockholm syndrome-like twist, evangelists of the shitty things companies do, triggering them to write comments about how people should have known better.


This type of thinking moves a large portion of blame on the consumer, as it tells these companies that’s it’s “OK”- we’ve developed a coping mechanism to deal with their recidivism, and they’re more than welcome to ratchet up the shit they want us to eat.

Wind Mobile Support Nightmare for my Autistic Brother

This is a TL;DR version of a post I put up on Monday- you can read the whole article here:

In 2009 my autistic brother moved from Vancouver to Toronto to come live with me, after our mother passed away in the summer. Part of my responsibility for him, was to get him set up on his own and independent- which included a monthly budget he could stick to.

On March 9th, I set up a Wind Mobile account for my brother- this was the best option for him because:

          1. It’s the cheapest mobile option out there.
          2. They have unlimited plans, so I don’t need to worry about him generating massive over-usage charges each month (i.e.- stick to his budget).

My brother saved up the extra $50 he has each month (he’s on ODSP), for 5 months to be able to afford the plan and half the cost of the phone (on a Windtab).

It took a little while to figure out (mostly because he’s autistic- troubleshooting is not high on his list of skills) that the phone was dropping calls when he was at his house (even outside his house, where he got full bars). So March 15th I phoned into Wind support for the first time.

After 9 calls to Wind support over the course of a month, where I experienced repeated hang-ups and delays for them to respond to me, they finally admitted to me that the area was not well covered, and that the problem was their network, and they have plans of putting in more cell towers “at some point in the future, but could be years”. Every agent I spoke to before this last one, insisted that the area was well covered, and that the dropped calls must be something else, that they insisted they could fix.


My brother needs a phone now- he can’t wait “years” for them to upgrade their network- so I asked to be transferred to somebody to cancel the account.

Unfortunately, because the Wind Mobile support process took more than 14 days to come to a conclusion (even thought I followed THEIR rules- THEIR support process), my brother no longer had the option of returning the phone, but was forced into paying out the remaining balance for the phone- another $250; money that he does NOT have; and if he didn’t pay out the balance, they would refuse to cancel the account- so monthly fees for a service that does not work.

If they had told us day 1 that the area was not well covered- we wouldn’t have signed up; but instead, they repeatedly lied about the coverage, insisting that the issues were something else. I can only assume that this was on purpose.

Wind Mobile needs to take responsibility for their failed support process, and their agents who are misinforming the public. But instead of this, they’ve offered my brother $100 credit if he comes back as a customer- a credit for a service that does not work.

So far, over 80,000 people have read my main article, over 10,000 in Canada alone- not to mention people on reddit, facebook, and twitter- with thousands of people commenting and asking Wind to do the right thing.

How Wind Mobile Took My Autistic Brother for a Ride


I just received a call from Ayesha at Wind Mobile- from the “Office of the President”. She spent most of the call re-iterating their policies to me, and suggesting that i’m lying about calling in before the 14 day window.

She then mentioned that they had plans on beefing up the coverage in my brothers area, and if I was willing to come back as a customer, they would offer me a $100 credit towards my account.

I declined.

Hello Michael,

As a follow up to our conversation today, the reference ID for our conversation is CXXXXXXXX. We will be investigating further and I will touch base with you soon with regards to reaching a mutual resolution to this matter.

We sincerely appreciate your patience and cooperation with regards to this matter.


Ayesha S Office of the President

My brother is autistic.

He’s pretty high functioning as far as autism goes, but he still struggles with his disability on a daily basis (whether he’s fully aware of it or not). He can do a lot of stuff on his own- he can navigate the transit system better than most, he can feed himself (for the most part), and do many of the things average people do.

My brother moved from Vancouver to Toronto to come and live with me after our mother passed away in 2009; there was really nowhere else for him to go, so in one of her last lucid moments, I promised my mom that I would take care of him.

A large part of taking care of him was getting him registered for ODSP (Ontario Disability Services Plan), and with DSO (Development Services Ontario) in the hopes of getting him moved out on his own so he could be as independent as possible. Part of that independence was developing a budget that he could stick to, so that all his bills were covered, whether I was around to help or not.

One of his monthly expenses is his cell phone. The only other person my brother talks to besides me, is our sister in California- but they talk a LOT, and it’s good for both of them, as his autism makes it hard for him to connect with people, so family and familiarity is really good for him.

So I started the research. I considered Rogers, Fido, and Wind Mobile- Wind immediately stood out because they had unlimited plans for voice, text, and data, and they had a $10/mo add-on that would let my brother call my sister in the US. Unlimited is good, because my brother isn’t going to remember to limit himself, and he can’t afford to get stuck with crazy over-usage charges at the end of each month- he HAS to stick to his budget.

According to the Wind coverage map, they were well covered in his area (as well covered as the Toronto downtown core), and the “Windtab” option sounded great, because he could get a “good” phone without having to pay for the whole thing up front. So we decided Wind was the way to go- and so he started saving up. My brother only has an extra $50 every month, so it took him five months to save up enough to get the phone he wanted, and to pay for the first month of service.


Finally the day came where he had enough saved up to get his phone. I went in on a Saturday (March 9th) to the Wind Mobile store on Queen St., and set up the account for him using my credit card (as he doesn’t have one of his own). The total came out to $254.37– every cent he saved up, plus I kicked in the $4.37. The next morning I met him for breakfast and gave him his new phone; he was entranced- completely taken by his new Droid- and I got to take a breather, and check one more thing off my list of things I needed to do for my brother.

The problems started immediately.

By Wednesday (March 13th) we realized that whenever he tried to make a phone call from home, the calls would drop; and when I would try to call him, I’d just get a message about the subscriber being unavailable. At first I thought it might be temporary; or maybe he turned his phone off for some reason, or the battery died. But it persisted for several days, despite the fact that he had 3-5 bars the whole time.

It also took us a few days to figure out what was going on, since the phone worked perfectly fine when he wasn’t at home; my brother would call me from Dundas square or from a Starbucks somewhere closer to the downtown core, and we’d talk without issue. It was only in his area that the calls would drop.

Call #1– So I called into the Wind support for the first time on Friday (March 15th) – 7 days after buying the phone. I explained to the support person what was happening; she confirmed for me that their coverage in his area was well within the support zone (which backs up what their website says), and that he should have NO network issues in that area.

We ran through all the “normal” troubleshooting issues, and then she said that she would “reset the phone on her side” because sometimes the connections get “stuck” on certain cell towers.


Now, I’m not an idiot; and I was a technical support rep myself at one point in my career- so I understand what a blow-off sounds like- but she assured me that this would solve the problem, and everything would be working fine now. Rather than argue with her about what “stuck” means, I thanked her for her help, and got my brother to reboot his phone and try again- obviously there was no difference.

Call #2 – Saturday (March 16th) I phoned back in and I relayed to the new support rep the entire story, and about how the last rep “reset” something on their side. After going through all the same thing as the first rep, I started to lose patience, and requested to speak with a supervisor; not because she had done anything wrong at that point, but simply because her ability to help me was clearly limited- and I just needed to get this problem fixed.

She immediately got defensive, and insisted that if I really wanted to talk to a manager, that it was going to be a 4-6 hour wait, and that they might not even be able to call me back that night. When I insisted that I talk to somebody right away, and that I’d wait on the line, she put me on hold, and then hung up on me.

Call #3 – Monday (March 18th) I phoned back in; I waited a day because I simply could not bring myself to call back in right away- I wouldn’t have been able to refrain from taking my frustration out on the reps, and despite the poor performance so far, I’m sure i wouldn’t get the same person, and they don’t deserve that.

This time I get a rep named John; I recapped everything for John, including the initial solution of resetting the “stuck” connection- which he literally laughed out loud about- he insisted that the level 1 tech support have no such ability– and he confirmed that we’ve already worked through every possible trouble shooting option available to him, and that the only thing left was to talk to a level 2 rep.

John was the man; he got there in less than 5 minutes of talking to him, and he assured me that he would “take care of it”- the only downside is that the level 2 rep would only be able to call me back in the next “24-48 hours… but sometimes it takes longer”. So John put in the ticket, gave me the case number, and then I waited.

And then… nothing.

Call #4 – Friday (March 22nd) This call was short; I gave her my case number, she looked it up, and quickly told me that the reason I didn’t get a call-back from a level-2 rep yet, is because my buddy John didn’t submit the ticket correctly. I wasted four days waiting for a call that was never going to come.

She re-submitted the ticket, and told me that I would need to wait another 24-48 hours before hearing from the level 2 rep.

** At this point we reached the 14 day return policy that Wind provides; my brother would need to pay out his Windtab if we decided to cancel the account- so another $250+. **

Call #5 – Monday (March 25th) – three days later- I received the level-2 rep call-back. Of course, they happen to call at the exact minute I’m in the washroom, so I missed the call. The voice mail message was weak– no direct number to get back to them, no attempt to re-dial me, no effort at all- they simply said “sorry we missed you, please call us back at our main number”.

Call #6 – Saturday (March 30th) – I called in, but the hold time was soooo long- I just couldn’t do it. At this point I’m already so nauseated at the thought of talking to Wind support, that i just needed to take a day off.

Call #7 – Sunday (March 31st) I called back in and talked to a level-1 rep, and I told them that I missed the level-2 call-back, and that I’d like to be transferred right away. He said the only thing he could do was put the ticket back in, and I’d get a call-back again in another 24-48 hours. I asked to speak to a supervisor, and he said “sure”, and hung up on me.

That’s twice I was hung up on!

Call #8 – Monday (April 1st) I spoke with Spencer and I explained to him that I missed the level-2 call-back and that I’d like to talk to them right away- and I would wait if needed. Spencer gave me the same line about putting in a ticket, and how I’d get a call-back within 24-48 hours- but I refused. I said that’s insane. I said I would wait.

He didn’t want to let me wait on the line, so I finally said that he should simply pass me to their cancellation dept., as they seem to be unable to resolve my issue. I was transferred to their loyalty dept. so I could cancel, but the rep insisted that I speak with a loyalty supervisor, so she transferred me; the loyalty supervisor insisted I speak with a level-2 support rep, and she immediately transferred me to Matt- level-2 support.

Now, I understand that the level-1 reps have limited abilities but I shouldn’t have to threaten cancellation, only to be transferred to the very person I called in to talk to- this is terrible support.

Matt insisted that the calling area was well covered, and that it must be my phone or my SIM card. That answer seems suspect to me, given that the phone works perfectly fine in other areas, and that the SIM (along with the phone) is brand new- but he insisted that this is where they need to start, before talking to anybody about the cell coverage in the area.

So I agreed to jump through their hoops, in the hopes that something will solve the problem. I took the phone in to get a new SIM card, and gave the phone back to my brother to take home so we could test- no difference at all.

At this point the conclusion is obvious; it’s been obvious from the beginning- the coverage in the area is poor, and there’s really nothing they can do about it.

Call #9 – Monday (April 10th) the level-1 rep looks up my account, and sees a note to transfer me right away to a level-2 rep. – no questions asked. I’m not sure why they didn’t do this all the other times instead of insisting that I wait 24-48 hours for a call-back- but whatever.

I spoke with Mimi- I explain everything that’s been done, and she reluctantly admits that the service is poor in that area. She said a couple things that blew my mind:

1) She said that my brothers’ address is “right on the edge of their coverage area”. Now, when you look at their coverage map on their website (I took a screen shot above), my brothers address looks like it’s well covered, and not at all on the “edge”. But she says that she has access to a “better map”, and on her map, he’s right on the edge.

So basically the Wind Mobile coverage map on their website is a lie– they’ve exaggerated their coverage area to look bigger than they actually are. This isn’t really that surprising, given how new Wind is to the mobile market, but coverage was a deciding factor on choosing them in the first place.

2) She also said that they have more cell towers scheduled to be installed in that area “at some point in the future“. I’m not sure if that’s really true or not, but if it is, it means they KNOW that the area is not well covered- which means their reps are lying to their customers, telling them the coverage in that area is good, when it’s clearly not.

She also couldn’t give me any dates of when the area would be upgraded; she said it “could be years” before anything in actually installed.

At this point, I’m done- the service is unusable; there is no other recourse other than to wait to see if/when the area is upgraded, which could take years, not to mention the weeks I’ve lost working through this, only to be repeatedly lied to and hung up on.

I asked Mimi to transfer me to the loyalty dept. so I can cancel my brothers’ account. I spoke with a rep, who eventually transferred me to Candace- a loyalty supervisor. I explained to Candace why I was cancelling, and that I was happy to pay for the usage on the account so far, but I’d like to return the phone and cancel the account.

Candace informs me that because it’s been more than 14 days since I signed up, my brother needs to pay out the remainder of the Windtab (a total of $226) – they won’t take the phone back, and they’ll refuse to cancel the account until the Wintab is paid- so it will keep incurring monthly charges for a service he can’t/won’t use.

I was BLOWN away.

First off, the service doesn’t work; and hasn’t worked since day 1- they can SEE all the dropped calls on their side- that should be more than enough right there for a company to accept that they screwed up, and eat the costs.

Secondly, the ONLY reason we were past the 14 days is because THEIR tech support took longer than that to try and resolve the problem. I spent time working through the support steps that they themselves had engineered, not to mention their mistakes, them hanging up on me, them lying to me about the area being covered, and the time it took for them to call me back.

If your support process is padded with 24-48 hour call-back windows, and requires multiple calls to resolve issues, then you need to stop the clock on your return policy until a conclusion is come to- and the consumer can make an informed decision on whether to keep the account or not.

But it’s very possible that this is intentional; if you keep a half-assed support system in place, then it creates a scenario where customers could get pushed past the 14 day window, and are forced into a decision of paying out the Windtab in one lump sum (which for many people like my brother, is months and months of saving), or they just put up with the poor service and keep the account (because Wind refuses to cancel the account unless the Windtab is paid)- either way Wind wins.

So where are we now? After paying Wind Mobile over $500 for a service that never worked.


My brother needs to save every penny he has for the next six months to pay off the Windtab, and he’ll end up with a phone that he may or may not be able to use with another carrier. Meanwhile, he’ll have no phone, since he can’t afford a plan with another company until the Windtab is paid off.

He won’t be able to call our sister. I won’t be able to get a hold on him to check in on him; to make sure he’s taking his medication; to make sure he’s “ok”. And he’ll have no way to call me in an emergency- or if he just wants to tell me about his day.

He’s autistic, so he doesn’t really understand why this happened, no matter how much I try to explain it to him. He feels ripped off, and he’s confused, and he feels abandoned by his family; and Wind Mobile did this to him for money.

RIM isn’t going to make it.

Research in Motion (the company behind the BlackBerry smart phones), released their quarterly updates yesterday, causing their shares to tank- dropping 21% on the TSE. Apparently this was mostly due to product delays and the announcement of layoffs.

The thing I find funny, is the curious 2M drop in volume earlier in the day:

Cough… (insider trading)… cough cough..

Wait until it gets to $20/share and buy! They’ll be Microsoft shares soon enough.