A lot of senders seem to think that the secret to good delivery is having personal contacts at the ISPs. That way, when there is a delivery problem you can call up your friend at the ISP and inform them that they have made a mistake. In this little sender fantasy world, the ISP rep then apologizes profusely, unblocks the sender’s mail and perform magic to prevent a block from ever happening again.
Like many fantasies, it doesn’t usually happen that way.
The big ISPs are moving more and more to automated systems that prevent individual employees from interfering. This isn’t actually anything new. I was at a party once and sharing a drink with a representative of one of the big three ISPs. We were talking about a delivery problem one of my clients was having. The rep told me that the ISP did not have any way to actually whitelist around the filter that this client was getting trapped in. The reputation based filtering systems that some ISPs are building are much more performance based and will probably result in those ISPs who can make exceptions now not being able to do so in the future.
When looking for a good delivery person, the real question senders should be asking relate to the skills of the people doing the troubleshooting not who do they know. Does the delivery person have experience troubleshooting delivery? Can they actually resolve problems without having to rely on information from the ISPs? Given the response times at many ISPs, even for personal contacts, it’s often faster to listen to your delivery person than find the ISP rep who will apologize for the mistake.