Formstack Issues: Notification Emails Not Sending

We think Formstack rocks, but like all website contact forms, sometimes they don’t work as expected. The Formstack support team are super helpful and responsive, but there are times when you still need to don your detective hat to find out how to solve a specific issue. We’ve just tackled a problem for one of our clients and given that we couldn’t find anything online to help us, we thought we’d share. If you’ve recently had Formstack issues, this article may just get you back on track!

Problem Scenario: Notification Emails Stopped Sending

One of our clients contacted us and were very concerned that they hadn’t been receiving email enquiries from their website for a few weeks or even longer. Understandably, this is a super frustrating issue for any client as it can cost them a lot in terms of reputation damage and loss of income, so this was a top priority. The client was using Formstack and their forms had worked consistently for several years, so we went to work trying diagnose and solve the issue.

Basic Diagnostic Checks: Contact Form Tests

The first task was to eliminate the obvious, so we went through the following basic contact form tests:

  • Completed the contact form on the client’s website as a test to see if there was any problem completing the form [Test Passed: No issues]
  • Logged into Formstack to check if the test form was recorded in the submissions [Test Passed: Test email was there]
  • Checked the notification email set in Formstack within the clients form to see if this was correct [Test Passed: Email was correct]
  • Edited the Formstack notification emails to add my own email as a second notification email [Completed]
  • Completed the client’s contact form again to see if I received the notification [Test Passed: I did receive the email notification]

With these initial tests out of the way, I contacted the client to see if they received my test contact form submission. They confirmed that no notification email had been received via their email address. This meant the issue had to be between Formstack and the clients email address, so I went to the Formstack support area and lodged a ticket.

A handy thing about Formstack is the ability to export all submissions via Excel or CSV. I completed an export and sent it to my client, so they could start contacting any enquiries they had missed.

Formstack Issue Response: “550 No Such User” Error

My support ticket specifically asked if Formstack could check the client’s form and if they could check the client’s notification email for any problems.

Within 24 hours, Formstack responded saying the client’s notification email had been blacklisted by Formstack’s email servers. The error code was a “550 No such user” error. Based on some quick research, this error happens when the email address does not exist or the mailbox is unavailable. Once on the blacklist, no notification emails would be received by the client from Formstack. We had found out why the form stopped working, but not why the email address was on the blacklist in the first place.

The client’s elected notification email was definitely correct and not mistyped, so this seemed like an odd error to receive. Formstack support took the client’s notification email off their blacklist. However, they also let me know that this would be a temporary fix unless I could work out what triggered the 550 error in the first place.

At this point, with the client’s notification email off the blacklist, I retested the client’s contact form. After contacting the client, they confirmed that they received this test, so I was getting closer! Now to work out what was causing the 550 error…

Getting To The Root Cause: Mailbox Full

The client ran their emails via Gmail using their company domain and viewed their emails via Outlook. The next part of the solution was to have a quick look at the client’s Gmail account. I contacted the client and asked for their Gmail logins, so I could see what was happening.

As soon as I logged in, the solution was right in front of me at the top of the screen.

Formstack Issues - Blacklisted Email - 550 Error - Purchase More Mailbox Space

The client’s email account was full and oddly enough a full mailbox will trigger a “550 No such user error”. It seems strange for the error to say “No such user”, but a full mailbox is one of the causes.

The client had no idea their mailbox was full, as they couldn’t see the warning from within Outlook, which is how they viewed their emails. Only by logging in directly through Gmail was the warning visible.

Normally if your mailbox is full, it won’t cause lasting issues. You won’t receive any emails while it’s full, but as soon as you delete some emails (and free up space), you can receive emails again. Anyone who sends an email while your mailbox is full will receive an error message and either their email system will try again later or they will need to resend the email. However, Formstack is different! As soon as an email address returns a 550 error due to the mailbox being full (or for any other reason), the Formstack email servers put that email address on a blacklist. Once this happens, even if you free up space in your mailbox, Formstack keeps your email on their blacklist. This means you can’t receive form notifications until you contact Formstack support to have it removed from the list.

The Solution: Client To Buy More Email Storage Space

In the end, the solution was simple. The client just needed to upgrade their Gmail account to increase their storage (they should also probably test their contact form periodically too, just in case).

Like many technical issues, this was a case of working through the clues, testing and eliminating scenarios. However, one of the challenges for digital marketing agencies like us is that we aren’t IT companies. The line between IT support and digital marketing is pretty blurry at times. When you think that some business owners may have an IT company, a web design company and a separate hosting company, it’s pretty common for no-one to take responsibility, so the client has to fend for themselves (while getting understandably more and more frustrated). At Media Heroes, we always try to help our clients solve these sort of issues and we were delighted with this outcome.

Big thanks to our team of heroes and to the superstar Formstack support. We hope this post helps more people to solve similar issues or at least to give you some ideas or clues! Good luck and stay heroic.