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The message received was unexpected or badly formatted


The message received was unexpected or badly formatted



I'm doing some maintenance in an old VB6 app running Windows XP.  What used to work flawlessly for years is now returning the above error message when I attempt to download the list of lists (or issue any .send for that matter).


The code and parameters is as follows:  (I've changed the actual values)


strCredentials =  "7d262b7e-f22a-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx%mycompanylogin"

strURI = ""


Set WinHttpReq = New WinHttp.WinHttpRequest



WinHttpReq.Open "GET", strURI, False
WinHttpReq.SetCredentials strCredentials, "mypassword", 0


The error occurs when I issue the .send


What's interesting is that I can take the same Constant Contact credentials and login and download fine in a .net application.  So it appears to be something related to the old VB6 way of doing things.  I'm wondering if anyone else has reported a similar behavior and what a possible solution may be.




Chris Campbell - Partner

Cascade Data Solutions












Re: The message received was unexpected or badly formatted

As a follow up to this I've isolated the issue to only occurring in an XP environment.  Has Microsoft slammed the door on this working in XP or was there a change made on your end that would cause this error to occur?




Chris Campbell - Partner

Cascade Data Solutions

CTCT Employee

Re: The message received was unexpected or badly formatted

Hi Chris,


It sounds like it might be an issue with the security protocol used by your XP environment. We stopped supporting TLS 1.0 with RC4 ciphers and SSL 3 to prevent the man-in-the-middle, or POODLE, attacks that were widely publicized around the web. More information on that is at If you can upgrade the security protocol to TLS 1.1 or 1.2, you'll likely see the issue resolved.


I'm not aware if Microsoft released a patch for this for XP. A brief search indicated that Microsoft stopped supporting XP last year, but you may still be able to find an update.


Best Regards,

Shannon Wallace

Partner API Support Engineer


Re: The message received was unexpected or badly formatted

As a quick update, Constant Contact no longer supports or works on Windows XP.  The change mentioned by Shannon for TLS 1.0 and SSL v3 mean that there are no supported SSL security protocols left on Windows XP that comply with the security standards of Constant Contact.  Microsoft has not and will not release any updates to XP to resolve this issue.

Dave Berard
Senior Product Manager, Constant Contact