Yesterday, Google acknowledged a world-wide outage that impacted millions of people. [Source: WSJ, 14 Dec 2020] This news comes after an announcement over the weekend that Microsoft 365 has a serious vulnerability, and users are being advised to secure their accounts immediately. [Source: CNET, 14 Dec 2020]

Today you may have noticed some delivery error notifications in your inbox for messages you recently sent to people using Gmail addresses. This is a wide-spread problem, and will hopefully be resolved by Google soon.

These undeliverable notices are usually legitimate when an email address is incorrect or if the recipient mailbox is full. This can also happen if the message is perceived to be spam.

Below is an example of the email message people are receiving today. Despite the error, recipients state that they are getting messages even though the sender is told the message wasn’t delivered. Note that in the example below, the recipient address has been replaced with [email protected]

For now, you can try contacting people with text messages or phone calls until the problem is resolved. Or, rely on emails getting through despite the delivery error messages. What this article hopes to convey is that the problem is not isolated to your computer or email account, but instead it is widespread.

# # #

Date: 15 Dec 2020
From: Mail Delivery Subsystem
Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details

*** ATTENTION ***

This email is being returned to you because the remote server would not
or could not accept the message. The registeredsite servers are just
reporting to you what happened and are not the source of the problem.

The address which was undeliverable is in the section labeled:
“—– The following addresses had permanent fatal errors —–“.

The reason your mail is being returned to you is in the section labeled:
“—– Transcript of Session Follows —–“.

This section describes the specific reason your e-mail could not be
delivered.

Please direct further questions regarding this message to your e-mail
administrator.

–Registeredsite Postmaster

—– The following addresses had permanent fatal errors —–
[email protected]
(reason: 550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try)

—– Transcript of session follows —–
… while talking to gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com.:
DATA
<<< 550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try
<<< 550-5.1.1 double-checking the recipient’s email address for typos or
<<< 550-5.1.1 unnecessary spaces. Learn more at
<<< 550 5.1.1 https://support.google.com/mail/?p=NoSuchUser fi11si190966ejb.378 – gsmtp
550 5.1.1 [email protected] … User unknown
<<< 503 5.5.1 RCPT first. fi11si190966ejb.378 – gsmtp
Reporting-MTA: dns; jax4mhob14.registeredsite.com
Received-From-MTA: DNS; [10.30.71.211]
Arrival-Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2020 17:13:52 -0500

Final-Recipient: RFC822; [email protected]
Action: failed
Status: 5.1.1
Remote-MTA: DNS; gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com
Diagnostic-Code: SMTP; 550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try
Last-Attempt-Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2020 17:13:54 -0500