Tag Archives: folder assistant

Unwanted Email Generated with Folder Assistant & Modern Public Folders

Scenario

This issue came to me via a forum I moderate.

This company has Exchange 2013 installed & are using Modern Public Folders. They have a business process where customers email a mail-enabled public folder & have setup a rule (using the Folder Assistant) to fire once the email has been received. This rule sends an email to the customer essentially saying “Thank you for your email, we will get back to you shortly”.

Employees then use the message Categorization feature to assign a Category to the email so it can then be tracked accordingly. Unfortunately, once the message is marked with any category, the rule fires again & sends another email saying “Thank you for your email, we will get back to you shortly” to the customer. Say for instance the categorization is changed 3 times, then the customer would receive 3 additional emails (quite SPAMMY). Issue happens when using Outlook (tried both 2010 & 2013) as well as OWA.

This environment recently moved from Legacy Public Folders (03/07/10) where this issue did not occur with the same configuration. I was also able to reproduce this issue in my lab; I’ve detailed the process below:

Issue Reproduction

I duplicated the configuration in two different environments, one with Exchange 07/10/13 & Public Folders on Exchange 2007 (Legacy Public Folders) while the other environment was purely Exchange 2013 SP1 using Modern Public Folders. In either scenario the configuration was the same:

  1. Create a Public folder named “TestPF”, Mail-Enable it, & grant an account Owner permissions for it.
  2. Open Outlook as the Owner account & navigate to the TestPF public folder.
  3. Right-Click>Properties on TestPF. Click “Folder Assistant” & then click “Add Rule.”
  4. Click “Sent To” & choose the email address for your mail-enabled public folder (see image below).

1

  1. Select “Reply With” & then click “Template”. Within the Outlook window that opens, compose the template you wish to send out & then click “Save & Close” (see image below).

2

 

  1. Click “Ok” twice.

3

  1. Now compose an example customer email to be sent to the public folder’s address

4

  1. You should then receive an email from the public folder’s SMTP address containing the text you placed into the template earlier.

5

 

  1. Now navigate to the TestPF public folder. On the newly received customer email, right-click, hover over Categorize, & select a Category (see image below).

6

10. Shortly after assigning a Category you (the customer in this case) should receive an identical template email which the Folder Assistant fired off again.

If you perform these same steps on a Legacy Public Folder, the issue should not occur (no duplicate emails after changing the Category).

 

Workaround

I initially tried sending this to some internal Microsoft people via the Ranger & MVP DLs but never received a response. It seems like one of those odd corner cases that would be hard to get traction on. I suggested opening a MS Support case to attempt to get it classified as a bug. Unfortunately not everyone has a Premier Support contract & given there’s no guarantee of MS agreeing something is a bug (thus refunding their money) the company was hesitant to create the case & invest the time. This decision was made after they determined that a workaround for this issue was to create a subfolder called “Received” (which did not have any Rules configured) & move the emails there before applying any message Categorization.

Note: An important concept to understand is that every bug that needs to be fixed is a business decision. It takes extensive development as well as testing/validation effort to make it happen. So knowing that, it is almost always necessary to write out not only the problem description but also a business case for why a certain behavior is negatively impacting your business. It may seem a bit tedious but this is the type of ammunition needed by Support to get traction on an issue with any development team at Microsoft.

Conclusion

This is certainly an odd issue but I wanted to put it out there in the event someone used a similar process & were either currently having issues or were planning the move to 2013 Modern Public Folders.