Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender errors are generally encountered when an intended recipient does not exist on the remote server.
You will normally receive a bounceback message with this error in the subject, and the body of the message should contain the original message that was attempting to be sent.
Example bounce-back message
Delivery-date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 16:42:54 -0400
Received: from mailnull by ecbiz103.inmotionhosting.com with local (Exim 4.77)
for email@example.com; Thu, 25 Oct 2012 16:42:54 -0400
From: Mail Delivery System
Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 16:42:53 -0400
recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:
No Such User Here
Received: from firstname.lastname@example.org by ecbiz103.inmotionhosting.com with local (Exim 4.77)
for recipient@RemoteDomain.com; Thu, 25 Oct 2012 16:42:53 -0400
Subject: [example.com] Please moderate: “About us”
X-PHP-Script: example.com/wp-comments-post.php for 220.127.116.11
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 20:42:53 +0000
From: WordPress <email@example.com>
X-Mailer: PHPMailer 5.1 (phpmailer.sourceforge.net)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”UTF-8″
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
URL : http://www.paydayspam.com
Comment: Payday loans are available for any occasion!Â
ResolvingÂ Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender bounce-backs
Typically these type of bounceback errors are hard bounces meaning that trying to send the message again won’t be successful. You can read our previous article on why does email bounce, bounceback, or error?Â for a more in-depth explanation of a hard bounce.
In the particular bounce-back example above, the cause of the issue is that this user has WordPress setup to allow comments on posts. A spammer attempted to leave a comment on one of their posts, and the WordPress administrator of this site has setup their e-mail account asÂ recipient@RemoteDomain.com. So that is theÂ address used to send comment moderation requests to. However that e-mail address doesn’t exist on the RemoteDomain.com mail server, so it’s always going to fail and cause a bounce-back error.
If you happen to also be having issues with WordPress comment spam causing bounce-back errors for your account, we have an advanced article on WordPress comment spam clean upÂ that could help you clear this issue up.