Got an email from my new electricity supplier yesterday saying my bill had not been paid. They're supposed to send me the bill by email. I looked through all my emails and found emails I had received from them before, but not one for the bill. Of course I had also received an email from them saying I hadn't paid the bill. So I knew the email address was correct because I had been receiving emails from then. I rang them to ask them about it and while doing so I thought I better check my Gmail spam. And there it was, the bill in spam . So I paid the bill and the person was nice enough to give me the discount that I would have got, had i paid it on time.
But I was curious as to why Gmail had classified the bill as spam. I asked the Electricity supplier if they send their emails out in bulk because I know bulk emails are usually regarded as spam. Unfortunately he could not answer my question.
Today I looked through my spam email and found another message that was supposed to come to me. From a completely different organisation nothing to do with electricity supply. But this time I had a closer look at the text on the web page surrounding the spam message and found this:
“Why is this message in spam? It is similar to messages that were identified as spam in the past”
So it seems to have nothing to do with the sender subject, or recipient as to whether an email is regarded by Gmail spam but rather how similar it is to other emails that had been reported as spam. Perhaps other people, not wanting to pay ther electricity bill, have reported the electricity bill as being spam, and mine being similar would also be regarding as spam.
It will be very interesting to know what Gmail regards as “similar” when it comes to messages. I'm sure I will not be able to find that information. This: “In most cases, recipient servers do not provide any information about spam filtering to the sender of an email that was filtered. It would give too much information to spammers who would use that data to get around spam filters.” confirms that.. From https://mandrill.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/205582597-Why-are-my-emails-going-into-recipients-spam-folders-
So if you're a business and wanted to make things difficult for a competitor you could arranged to get emails from them and then report them all as spam. Wonder how many times you have to do that to make it work? And then what would have to happen to reverse the situation?
I very rarely look at spam email as I use an email client and it would require me to go into the Gmail web interface to check for spam.
It's good that spam is nowhere near as prevalent as it was years ago but that also means other things can go wrong as a consequence.