Hotmail asks sites to Pay Protection money

I’m not used to shout and accuse companies, but tonight I discovered something that I didn’t like about Microsoft.
After a lot of delivery problems for Hotmail users (I manage some sites that sends e-mail notifications to registered people… of course it isn’t absolutely not spam), I contacted the support for webmasters: I had several discussions with Microsoft employees, trying to find a solution. Finally, they told me:

… “Many legitimate mailers and marketers have qualified and joined this white listing program to improve mail deliverability and decrease email from being filtered to the Junk E-mail Folder. Sender Score is a third party program, administered by Return Path. Sender Score ( is the only White Listing service to which we subscribe.”

So I went to Sender Score website to subscribe to the program. They say that “90 days of mailing activity is required for each IP submitted for accreditation“. Ok, it’s normal… but a few of rows below I see the registration steps:

  1. Read and agree to the Sender Score Certified Email Standards
  2. Read and agree to the terms and conditions of the Participating Sender Agreement
  3. Complete a short self-assessment form
  4. Pay an application fee

… a “fee”? To legitimate my e-mails? This is strange… ok, but how much? Let’s see pricing:

Sender Score Certified Fees
So they’re asking webmasters (also for non-profit organization!) to pay at least 400$ only to be “sure” that their e-mail will go directly into Hotmail customers’ inboxes. In other words… if you pay, they can “turn a blind eye”.

I don’t know how do you call it, but as everybody knows… here, in Italy, we are very conscious of what is “Mafia”.
Does Hotmail asks web sites to pay a “pizzo”?

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