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Order Emails unreliable?


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My version of osCommerce is: OSCommerce v2.2MS1 on LAMP and heavily customized


Our site has been up and running for two years, and is a small but growing part of our business. I have noticed something that once was just an annoyance but now I am getting complaints from the expediter and sales clerk who process our orders. Now and then, when an online order is placed, it is visible in the admin screens but no order email is sent.


Now the issue is much more visible since we are getting more orders these days! We have received about 100 orders since January, and four of them generated no emails to us, and apparently no emails were received by the customer as well. The orders are:


#275 2008-05-17 7:23:41

#209 2008-02-01 9:08:09

#197 2008-01-17 8:35:02

#194 2008-01-15 12:05:28


I do not see anything in common or unusual about these orders. As a test, we added a gmail account to the extra emails list before the last occurrence, to make sure that it was the sending Apache not sending rather than an issue with our incoming mail server. The gmail account received everything our internal staff did, and missed the 17 May email right along with the rest of us. This points to the Apache server's mail system as a likely source of trouble.


I have put together every forum search I can think of, to try to find someone else who has had this problem and posted about it, but can not find a thread.


I have limited access to mail send logs because my hosting company uses another hosting company, and the one we deal with directly is reluctant to ask them for the log files. They suggest a brute force method: a cron script which would run daily and notify us of any "Pending" orders. While I could develop such a script, I feel it would be a less desirable substitute for finding the actual problem in sending the original email, especially since the best timing for our sales staff is to receive notification immediately when the order is placed.


1. Does this issue sound familiar to anyone? If so, can you point me in a direction?


2. I understand that there are two methods of sending mail on an osCommerce LAMP server: sendmail and something else. What are the advantages of each, and how can I tell which method my server uses?


3. I have been asking my hosting company for "the mail logs" and so far have not seen any. Does anyone know the exact files I could ask for that contain the familiar HELO... sequences? That way I could at least tell if the mail system is getting a message to send something. Of course, I'll have to wait until it happens again, but at least I'll be ready.


Thank you!

......Monty Wilson, Brance-Krachy Co.

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