Can't use "reply-to" email address on WP contact forms

OK…so I’ve been running a number of WordPress websites for a long time…recently decided to move everything to DreamHost so I could retire my own servers that I’d been running on forever.

I’ve always used WP-Mail-SMTP and Visual Forms Builder for my WP websites…never had any issue. So naturally those plugins were in my WP sites when I moved them to DH.

However, I noticed that sometimes an entry would be made by a user on the contact form that wouldn’t show up in the Inbox (also using DH-hosted email for all my websites now).

All my VFB contact forms were set to use the user-provided email address as the reply-to - so that the people who receive those emails can just hit the Reply button, and respond to the actual user. What was happening was that if the user-provided email was on Gmail or Yahoo, for example, the contact form message would just poof disappear. It wouldn’t get to the inbox, and it wouldn’t get caught in a spam filter (DH or otherwise), and DH tech support says they wouldn’t even see anything in the logs. If I switched the reply-to feature off, and just used the same DH-hosted email address that the form was getting sent to as the reply-to, all messages go through fine…but it’s not easy for the receiving users to use, as now they can’t just hit the Reply button and go…they have to copy/paste the user-provided email address (which is surprisingly difficult for many people to grasp).

I discovered that DH didn’t automatically set up SPF records for my domains, which I found surprising…assumed their installerbots would do that automatically when you set up their email. Having fixed that, and verified that the DKIM is automagically set up by DH, I have no other ideas of what to look at.

DH tech support says that VFB is “doing it wrong” - such that they’re not doing the reply-to bit correctly, and instead are making it look like a spoofed From address. Which I don’t think is correct, because frankly VFB is so wildly popular and I can’t find any indication of any such widespread issues - and I had no issues before moving to DH in the first place. I’ve verified the same type of behavior with a different contact form plugin too…so whatever it is that’s happening, it almost certainly isn’t specific to VFB.

I need help. Can anyone shed any light on what’s happening here?

Is the “From:” address the dreamhost hosted account?

You should be able to set “Reply-to” header to email address of the form user without problem, but the “From” header, must be a valid address from your domain.

Yes, the from address is a DH hosted account. So is the “to” address. Sometimes it goes through with other reply-to addresses, but always fails on Gmail and Yahoo for sure.

Perhaps post a set of full headers with the reply-to option enabled. Since those headers will have to come from a mail that did arrive, it won’t be conclusive, but there is no way to get the headers from an email that didn’t arrive. Feel free to obscure any full email addresses that you don’t want to make public, but leave the rest alone. Perhaps someone can spot an issue with the way the reply-to header is used.