ebay bug 2 - not quoted-printable in saved search mailing

2010-04-14 Update: Turns out Facebook has exactly the same problem. I'm surprised few people are complaining, I guess enough people who deal with text email have given up on expecting correct behavior from web sites.

I'm surprised nobody else has noticed this, but I just realized that ebay is incorrectly encoding their text emails. The headers claim:

Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
quoted-printable means that any 8-bit characters must be encoded with the equals sign notation ('=xx'), including the equals sign.

I suppose it's possible that some mail server in between ebay/Facebook and myself is adding this header in, but I can't imagine why any servers would want to do that or which server it would be.

To quote Wikipedia:

For example, .. a US-ASCII equal sign (decimal value 61) must be 
represented by "=3D"...  All printable ASCII characters .. may be 
represented by themselves, except "=" (decimal 61).

Unfortunately their 'saved searches' emails claim to be quoted-printable, but are not encoded properly. As an example:

New Results
Item title:            Some widget which is ebay #45678
Item URL:              http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=45678910
Note that the URL has a '=' sign that is not encoded, the proper encoding would be:
Item URL:              http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3D45678910
And the problem is that intelligent mail clients will see that it's quoted-printable and will convert the first two digits of the item number into an equals code, in this case '=45' which is the encoding for the ASCII character 'E', and consequently turn the email into:
Item URL:              http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&itemE678910
But that sure ain't right, folks!

Either they need to do the encoding or turn off the quoted-printable header. I think they should do the latter, since they probably don't need 8-bit encoding for these messages (unless they allow 8-bit characters in item names??), and since some people want to really be able to just get text email, that would be nice.

Why use text email, you ask? See my article on Email Is Text

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