Global Gmail Incorrect Hard Bounce

A global Gmail issue caused emails sent to valid Gmail email addresses incorrectly to bounce as invalid email addresses by Gmail servers. A catastrophic Gmail failure caused emails sent to Gmail to permanently fail and bounce. This was a global issue, and it affects all email service providers trying to send email to Gmail, not just a specific tool like Marketo, Hubspot, Sendgrid, etc. The error message from Gmail is the following:

‘’550-5.1.1 The email account that we tried to reach does not exist.’’

Impact Timeframe:

Although Google reported that the email bounce/invalid issue occurred on 2020-12-14 from 14:16 PST to 16:38 PST and on 2020-12-15 from 11:38 PST to 15:57 PST, totaling 6 hours 41 minutes In a subset of Gmail users encountered email delivery issues. During this time, the service responsible for handling SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) connections incorrectly responded by sending error emails to “” users. The error message indicated that the email address does not exist and, as a result, the affected emails were not delivered.

Google confirms the issues with its services dashboard, writing at 1:30 PM PST that it affects a “large” number of users:

“We’re aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a significant subset of users. The affected users are able to access Gmail, but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior.”

The leads would have an “Email Bounced” activity with SubCategory=2003 and Category=2. In addition, they would see the following activities that were system triggered due to the Bounce Event.  The “Email Invalid” field was set to true and the “Email Invalid Cause” was set to the Bounce Error Message from Gmail.

Since it has the affected timeframe and the Category/Subcategory values, the marketing automation system can construct a Workflow/Automation in order to identify and correct the affected leads. For more information, contact RightWave.

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