14 July 2016
Update Readers will note that I’ve changed the title and URL of this article, and that’s because shortly after posting it, representatives of SendGrid reached out, apologizing for the situation, explaining that my situation isn’t what they intend, and offering to make it right.
All-in-all, barring what happened this morning, we’ve always had good experiences with SendGrid, and their product is really well designed, and so I’ve decided to continue giving them our business.
My company Makalu was engaged by a US educational non-profit to develop an online platform called Letters 2 President, through which Americas youth can publish letters to the candidates of the 2016 presidential election. While the platform is under development, a website was established to inform about the project, and start taking preliminary signups from schools, libraries and other organizations wishing to participate.
Most web applications these days outsource certain functions to third-parties. For example, its typical to use Amazon S3 for storage, CloudFlare for content distribution and site protection, and in the case of sending transactional emails, weve tended to use SendGrid.
Until now, that is. After today, well no longer use their services, nor will we continue to recommend them to our customers. Heres why
For our project, we need to send notification emails to our customer whenever new applications arrive from organizations wishing to participate. We need to send notification emails to organizational administrators when group leaders create accounts. And we need to send notification emails to group leaders whenever a student creates or modifies a letter to be published on our site.
Thats why we need a transactional email service like SendGrid.
As usual in our projects, we create dedicated accounts with these third-party providers, as opposed to using our own Makalu accounts, so that when a project is finished, we can hand over everythingincluding provider accountsso that the customer is free to operate their project without any dependencies on Makalu.
And in that regard, this morning I tried to setup a SendGrid account for use in our Letters 2 President project.
Ten minutes after creating the account, I received a notice from SendGrid that based on their review of a broad range of data points, our provisioning request had been rejected.
A rejection based on an automated data check process didnt come as a surprise, for a number of reasons:
I imagined that a simple email could clear the matter up, and so I replied to the rejection notice, explaining the purpose and nature of our project, explaining whos involved, explaining the reasons for the checks I imagined triggered the rejection, and offering to answer any questions they might have in order to get the account provisioned.
Another 10 minutes later, I received a cold and unfriendly follow-up saying thank-you, but based on reasons that wont be disclosed, our account will not be activated. Just like that. No chance of a discussion. End of story.
And, adding insult to injury, their note ends with the sarcastic-sounding, We wish you the best in your future endeavors.
I completely understand why a transactional email company has to be careful in the provisioning of accounts. We all know how big a problem spamming is. But I cant understand at all why a company would be completely unwilling to even engage with a new customer who presents a clear case for the legitimacy of their use of the service.
So that ends any current and future business relations well have with SendGrid. Fortunately there are many other providers of transactional email, wholl perhaps enjoy the exposure when we later publish about the building of this exciting new platform.