We use Google Apps to host my company's mail. On our website, we send some e-mails on behalf of our users. In those e-mails we include lines like this:

Return-Path: <bouncebacks@mycompany.com>
Sender: <sender@mycompany.com>

Sending the messages works great (passes SPF tests), but in the case that the message is sent TO an invalid e-mail address, we expect to get a bounce back message sent to "bouncebacks@mycompany.com". That message never arrives. (If we send an e-mail manually from within the gmail interface to the same bad e-mail, the message does arrive).

We used to receive the bounce back messages as expected, but it seems like they are always quietly blocked now (not in spam or anything). Is there a new policy that blocks bounce backs when the "From" does not match the "Return-Path" or something?

We would really like to get these bounce-backs to verify the delivery of the messages. Is there any way to prevent them from being blocked?!

Thank you!

  • Any updates on this? I have the same issue :( – Robert Swisher Jul 14 '10 at 0:11

They're probably using BATV or some similar mechanism. It's a mechanism that filters out bouncebacks from messages not sent through that service. It exists so you don't receive bouncebacks when a spammer uses one of your emails as From and/or Return-Path.

The solution for that case is making the server use gmail to send, or use a Return-Path that doesn't go to gmail.

Best of luck,
João Miguel Neves

  • Using the email server test, below, I have confirmed that Gmail does not use BATV. – Oddthinking Nov 1 '10 at 13:44

I had this same problem.

I am using the Google Apps version of Gmail, with a catch-all address. When I sent email to junk@junkityjunkjunk.com, I would only get bounce messages if I sent the email through the Gmail web interface, and not if I sent it through Outlook (via Gmail).

The problem started approximately 2 months ago, but I only noticed yesterday.

When I sent email through Outlook, I was logging in to Google Apps as AccountName@mydomain.com, but pretending to be called MyFullName@mydomain.com. So, the Return-Path and From addresses had one email address, but the Sender had another. Most email clients display it as MyFullName@mydomain.com, and either address will work (due to the catch-all).

Since discovering the problem, I created a new account on Google Apps called MyFullName@mydomain.com and started logging in as that. (Account Rename would have been nicer, but isn't available with the free version.) The bounce problem has now disappeared.

So, my answer is: Yes, it does appear that Gmail has a new policy that blocks bounces when the Return-Path doesn't match the Sender - matching the From field is insufficient.


So, I FINALLY tracked down the problem. The problem WAS the "sender" email I was using was not a real account, but a "group" account with a member that was ANOTHER group and THAT group had actual users as members. I suspect Google won't send bounce backs to "group" email addresses. The fix was to make the sender an actual user/email account.

As a side note, I was also able to use Google's + notation to make it more clear where the bounce back was coming from. In my case, we set the sender to "support@mycompany.com", but then depending on the TYPE of email being sent, added a notation like "support+contactform@mycompany.com" so we knew what type of bounce back it was and we could take action appropriately.


The problem could be one of the two (first being most likely)

  1. Your web site email server thinks that "mycompany.com" is local and therefore delivers the bounce message locally (instead of to Gmail). Simple way to verify this is by sending an email to a valid ID in @mycompany.com and seeing if the message reaches.

  2. This is unlikely, but Gmail could be verifying BATV. In that case, Gmail thinks that it is SPAM and blocks it. Take this Email Server Test from both Gmail and your web app and you can check if that is the issue.

  • 1
    Thanks for the reply! 1. I don't think it's #1, as the bounce back is being sent FROM a 3rd party website (like yahoo.com) to my company e-mail (like postmaster@mycompany.com). Google natively handles our mail, so my server is never even associated with these bounce back e-mails. 2. I do think that gmail is blocking the bounce back because it looks like spam. (Maybe because the "from" address is different than the "return-path"?) That Email Server Test you mentioned doesn't work for us, because we don't GET the bounce back. It's being suppressed somewhere! Thanks for your ideas! – JerSchneid Feb 5 '10 at 20:17

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