Advice for contacting Double First team members by email
Double First uses Office 365 for all of its team members. It's a great service and we recommend it, but there have been several reports and occurrences of customers and third parties having difficulty delivering e-mail to our addresses, so we thought we'd post an explanation of why that might be happening for us, or perhaps for you also if you utilise Office 365 in your school.
Your contact is vital to us, so if you haven't heard from us promptly then it is highly likely we have not seen your message. Here is an explanation of the likely cause and details of how to reach us.
Non-receipt of email happens due to a mismatch of security protocols from the originating mail server (the one that does the sending) and the Office 365 mail servers.
In order to send to any Office 365 hosted email address, the originating mail server needs to be able to encrypt the connection with something known as Transport Layer Security (TLS) to increase the security and integrity of the delivery. If the sending server is either incapable of utilising TLS, or configured not to use TLS, then Office 365 will reject the connection and the e-mail will not be delivered. Unfortunately this will be entirely invisible to the intended recipient within the Double First team – or in other words, we won't know you have been trying to contact us.
We have found that most of the occurrences of this happening have been when email is sent from old versions of mail servers. Or from domains that, for whatever reason, have been flagged as associated with spam. This can happen not just because of anything your school does, but also it can occur if your school domain or the domain that your personal email uses has been targeted by a third party and your website or other systems somehow exploited to bounce spam mail onwards.
We've discussed this with Microsoft, nothing can be done to work around the TLS requirement on a platform-wide basis (ie there isn't a fix that we can apply to all inbound mail). Given the sensitivity of the work that we do, you'll understand we don't want to switch to something with a lesser security level.
We can however create exceptions on our mail server for specific email addresses that enable them to bypass the need for TLS thus enabling successful e-mail delivery.
Knowing we need to do that for you of course depends on being able to contact us in the first place!
So here are some suggestions if you think we have not seen an email you sent to a Double First team member:
- If you are a customer with licensed software, please don't forget you can raise your request for contact or action within the Double First Support Centre – everything is tracked and moniored there and you can expect responses according to our service level agreement with you
- For all other contact please use the contact form at the foot of every page of this site.
- Don't forget you can also call your local Double First office – we're here to help
Finally, if you are a UK school also experiencing problems reaching all of your parents and other contacts via email, don't forget we have an education ICT specialist sister company, du Pré, with great experience in this area.