I just got emailed by someone I’d never heard of; I replied. However, their mailbox is “protected” by ChoiceMail, and so I got back a verification challenge. However, Thunderbird marked it as junk mail so I nearly missed it. Had I done so, after four days my carefully-written email would have been sent to the bit-bucket and neither side would ever have known.
My beef: these systems suck. But, if companies must offer them, why can’t they make them suck less by also offering an (authenticated) SMTP server which the customer could use? Then, when the communication was initiated by their customer, they could automatically add the recipient to the whitelist.
That would cut down the irritating “please authenticate yourself” email to the situations where the other party initiates contact – which, for an average random person, is probably about 50% of the time. And those 50% of cases are those where the other party is more motivated to jump through hoops – because they had a desire to start a conversation in the first place.
Even more smartly, if they find two ChoicePoint customers whitelisting each other, thereby establishing a simple trust network, then their whitelists could be merged. So if A writes to B, “email my mate C”, and all are ChoicePoint users, there’s no challenge email, because B is on A’s whitelist, and A and C’s whitelists are merged because they email each other.