GFI MailEssentials 12

July 21, 2008 · 126 comments

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Technical Support

GFI Technical Support was one of the selling points of the product when we first acquired it. We contacted support and raised a number of questions and they were always quick to respond with solid answers and technical knowledge. However, over the past 12 months or so, we have seen a serious degradation in this area. Here are some real examples of what has happened:

  1. No Lab – we submitted very simple E-mail messages (some as 3-4 words) that would be identified as SPAM, but were simple sentences about meeting for lunch or asking someone to call you back. When these were submitted (in their entirety) to GFI, they would always ask for a “Troubleshooter”. This is their tool for gathering state information and packet traces (using WinPCAP) for analysis. This is fine, if you can actually capture the mail when it arrives. But it also assumes that you can use your production environment for testing and experimentation. We asked repeatedly for them to try the test messages in their lab and they always came back with an excuse that they cannot log a helpdesk ticket without a Troubleshooter. In essence, they made their internal process problem, my problem and that is unacceptable. I am completely convinced that they do not have any tech support lab to experiment or duplicate user problems or issues.

  2. Bug in SPF – we identified a serious problem in their SPF record parser. One of our customers had a legitimate SPF record that MailEssentials could not properly parse. As such, they treated the record as a soft-fail and the mail was bounced. Our customers and clients were furious and it took almost two months for us to convince GFI that their product had a bug. Once they admitted to the bug, they told us it would be released in an upcoming build — but to date, they have not released a fix and we have been told recently that they do not have a schedule to fix it now.

  3. Always time for a vacation – During the height of some critical issues (see #3 above), the technical support engineers would leave us an away message while they took a 2-week vacation. The cases were not turned over to other technicians and they went “black” on us many times. As a matter of fact, the louder we complained and told them about our frustrations, the more often vacations occurred.

  4. Slow response – While GFI support, engineering and other parts of the company are global, they act as if that is an excuse for long delays in getting back to customers. Our E-mail exchanges took days and weeks to ask and answer simple questions. They have no sense of urgency in supporting their customers.
  5. Phone support – this is practically non-existent for GFI. This makes escalation and getting focused attention on serious problems impossible.
  6. No escalation – probably the most exasperating thing about GFI support. I had asked many times to speak with senior management in support, engineering and customer service. I was never allowed to contact or speak with anyone other than support engineers. Even after getting to backend support personnel, I was never able to contact managers nor would they have a manager contact me after my requests.

Our Conclusion

The problems with technical support and the lack of attention that GFI is keeping on this product has forced us to look at the competition in order to find a replacement. The amount of SPAM getting through with a working Bayesian Analysis engine is too high and the false-positive rate is too high to turn it on. We’ve seen the last of GFI MailEssentials at my company.


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Article by Steve Van Domelen

Steve has written 47 awesome articles.

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