* Ebay Email Looks Like Spam To SpamAssassin

Invalid date format partly to blame.

I recently received email from Ebay (an invoice for stuff I’d recently sold), and my Eudora mailbox displayed the message with a blank date. As a result, the email was listed at the top of my mailbox (I sort each mailbox with the oldest messages at the top, newest at the bottom). I only found the message when I searched for all unread messages. Because the “Date:” field was not RFC 2822 compliant, Eudora could not properly parse the date.

Ebay’s invalid date format:

Date: FRI 20, AUG 2004 19:51:45

A valid date format:

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 09:26:23 -0400

I have SpamAssassin set up to prepend “[SpamAssassin]” to the subject of all emails that fall above the default spam score. Due to this and other problems, the email from Ebay was flagged as spam. Here are the headers (minus my email address) of the message:

From: aw-confirm@ebay.com
Subject: [SpamAssassin] eBay Invoice for Saturday, July 31, 2004
Date: FRI 20, AUG 2004 19:51:45
X-Spam-Status: Yes, hits=5.2 required=4.0
X-Spam-Flag: YES
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 2.43 (
X-Spam-Report:   5.20 hits, 4 required;
  * -0.5 -- Subject contains a month name - probable newsletter (2)
  * -0.5 -- Subject contains a month name - probable newsletter
  *  1.5 -- Invalid Date: header (not RFC 2822)
  *  1.3 -- From: does not include a real name
  *  0.8 -- Found a Comment header
  *  1.7 -- BODY: Talk about a check or money order
  *  0.1 -- BODY: Talks about social security numbers
  *  1.6 -- BODY: Spam phrases score is 05 to 08 (medium)
            [score: 6]
  * -2.2 -- Message from eBay
  *  1.4 -- Date: is 48 to 96 hours before Received: date

Naturally, I tried to contact Ebay about this problem, as I assume they don’t want their email looking like spam. But Ebay makes it really hard to send them email. You have to send them email from their website and choose a pre-defined topic, but the topic of my email didn’t fit into one of their pre-defined categories, so I chose “Report fake eBay emails (spoofs) and unauthorized account activity.”

Ebay did reply, but it was a canned reply that did not address the subject I had written about. Lovely.

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