Question

How to fix significant delays of messages sent using the email to SMS service?


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Sprint customer here.  About a month or 2 ago, I started noticing that some messages sent using the email to SMS service can be significantly delayed.  I’ve seen messages delayed up to (and possibly over) 24 hours, but more frequently, the delay is between 10 minutes to a couple hours (when it happens).

I have an unlimited everything plan and I use the email to SMS service to send myself messages from automations on my Raspberry Pi.  I pay through the nose for the service, so I figured using that just seemed like a no-brainer.

I was not having any problem with this for years prior to a couple months ago.  I always received messages within moments of sending the email. I waited awhile before reaching out to Sprint/T-Mobile with this (and other) issues so that I could rule out issues on my raspberry pi. When I finally got around to sitting down and debugging, I added timestamps to all my messages and over the past week or 2, I have been seeing the difference between my timestamps and the time I received the messages.

I could of course work around this issue and use a different means of sending messages, but that’s ridiculous. I *pay* for this service. It should work and it should work promptly. The past 2 days I have spent frustrated hours interacting with sprint support to figure this out and all I hear are excuses and requests to do basic cure-all debugging steps that frankly make no sense. I have no delays of regular SMS messages, nor imessages. It’s restricted to email-to-sms messages, and that happens on their servers. And since I have no way of determining whether these steps have fixed the issue, since I cannot make it happen on demand, all I have asked them to do is look at my message logs over the past 15 days and compare the times they receive the emails with the times they are actually sent to my phone so I can conclusively confirm the issue. I got one upper tier tech to actually do it, via their messaging support, but I got disconnected while waiting to hear his results. I even got a message from him saying he had the results and was just reviewing them before sending me a synopsis! So frustrating! Interactions since then put me back at square one with useless debugging, despite my requests to either give me those results or do it again…

My first cell service/phone back in the early 2000s was T-Mobile and back then, I recall the support being really great. With this new experience, I can no longer say the same.


13 replies

I know this is a month old, but I use Email to Text pretty much the exact same way and my messages are being delayed as well. Sometimes by a day or more, which makes them useless.

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I actually (think I) solved this problem by working around it.  I switched from using email-to-text to an AppleScript that tells the messages app on macOS to send the SMS.

My only concern there is that my phone may need to have either a WiFi or data connection in order for the SMS to be sent, which makes it no better than an iMessage, but from what I’ve heard, the ability to send/receive SMS without a data connection is going away with the decommissioning of the 2G network anyway.

Ha! I actually just realized I replied to you on another thread asking for the Apple Script. I already have a Mac OS VM doing some automation, so an Apple Script might work perfect for me. Do you use GitHub? That would be a good place to post it for others too

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https://www.t-mobile.com/support/plans-features/consumer-versus-non-consumer-text-messaging

 

might be some additional ideas in here.

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Weird. I didn’t get an email notifying me of that response (or perhaps I just missed it). I may make a proper repo, but for now, I put it in a gist.

It might or might not require the recipient to be in your contacts. I haven’t fully tested it, but it works fine for sending messages to myself - and happens pretty much immediately, though I still currently have discord set up and it arrives a half a second sooner every time.

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The service is largely unusable now.

 

I’ve been having delays of hours or days, and many messages never reach me.  I’ve used different email addresses for different kinds of messages (home automation, etc.) 

A week ago I created a new GMail address solely to use with email-to-text.  Never used for anything else.

At first they got though, but even with a brand-new address they were delayed by hours.  As the days went on I noticed I was seeing fewer and fewer.  Now it appears that EVERY SINGLE MESSAGE is getting blocked.

This is nuts.

I don’t have a Mac to work around this, and that shouldn't even have to be considered.   T-Mobile has outsourced “spam” filtering to some 3rd-party and washed their hands of it.  It’s as if the service now doesn’t even exist.

 

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I don’t have a Mac to work around this, and that shouldn't even have to be considered.   T-Mobile has outsourced “spam” filtering to some 3rd-party and washed their hands of it.  It’s as if the service now doesn’t even exist.

I feel ya and completely agree. Although part of it is that as of sometime this year, mobile providers are required by law (FCC regs) to perform spam filtering of SMS messages, and their email-to-text service is a major source of spam. They’ve just implemented it extremely poorly.

Isn’t there some PC texting app that can be scripted the way you can write an applescript for any mac app? If not, there do exist services out there for SMS messaging.  Unfortunately, to get around the same problem, they now have to pay the mobile provider(s), and those costs are passed on to their users. I had looked into a few of them before writing the applescript solution.

However, there are lots of ways to send messages (that require a data connection), and pretty soon, there will be no 2G network and every SMS message will require a data connection moving forward, so there will no longer be a benefit to trying to get automated SMS messages to work.

While I was working out the SMS issue, I set up a discord server to send my automation messages, but there are dozens of other solutions and they don’t cost a penny. Plus, they’re more feature-rich.  E.g., you could mute certain types of messages or direct different messages to different channels and individually mute those channels, etc. I’m thinking that I may refine my messaging system to use a mix, and put less important messages in muted channels…

At the same time, I have considered demanding a discount from TMo since they’re blocking my legitimate messages that I essentially pay for. Also, I recommend sending feedback to the FCC.

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Thank you for the various suggestions.   I’m at the point where I’m just relying on automated emails instead of texts (though of curse I lose the  immediacy I *used* to have with SMS)

I am planning on writing a letter to T-Mobile, since I think a call would be a crap-shoot as to who I get, and how well I can explain it verbally.  I hope an actual snail-mail document would maybe get some attention, as well as giving me room to detail how all this has come about.

This is something they should just fix.

The FCC thing is a good idea as well.

I having the very same issues starting two weeks ago…..The delayed is matter from hours to days…

No sure what options is available on my side to resolved the issues??

 

Just banged my head trying to troubleshoot this issue.  Messages are accepted by T-Mobile’s server and a MessageId is provided.  However, delivery occurs anywhere between instant and 24 hours.  The issue is definitely on TMobile’s side.

Planning on calling 611 to report the issue.  They’ll prolly start by telling me to reboot my phone and update network settings, even though this issue has nothing to do with my phone …. will report back how it goes or if it dies at their L1 support.

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contact them through one of their social media platforms instead. you start with a higher tier support over calling in.

I called 611 and spoke to a support rep.  In my use case, the email is being sent to ###@tmomail.net for business notifications.  It turns out that this gateway is being exploited by spammers to send bulk email, so T-Mobile has installed a spam filter, which can fall behind.  Some takeaways:

  1. Filtering was installed recently, around July.
  2. Migrate to short codes, it is better supported.
  3. Methods for authenticating Email (to avoid getting caught in spam filters) won’t prevent it from being scanned.
  4. If spam levels decrease, the service should become more responsive.
  5. This method of sending SMS is considered unsupported.

Hope this helps folks.

Update after calling 611.  Got some useful information.  In my use case, the SMS is sent through an email gateway.  Unfortunately, spammers are using this facility to spam general users, so TMobile has implemented a filter.  Here were takeaways.

  • Use a short code to send SMS (this is supported; the email gateway is best efforts).
  • When spam volume subsides, delays should reduce.
  • Signatures, etc in email headers do not help make it past the screening process any faster.  The spam screens will still inspect the messages, which can take some time.

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