by Jimmy Marks (with Greg Crandell)
Part 1 of our long awaited “SPAM Series” is a horror story (just in time for the start of October…we’re all excited about Halloween over here). Jeffry Pilcher, E-I-C of the blog The Financial Brand, sent me a story (and seven or eight actual examples) of e-mail gone wrong.
What follows is the story of…”THE MAIL THAT WOULDN’T DIE!”
I never signed up for email notifications from Jupiter Images, a stock photo supplier. Nevertheless, I started getting email from them. Too much, too little relevance. So…
April 29 – I try using the unsubscribe option in the email. It bounces back.
April 30 – I send an email directly to the sender of the spam (rare that there was an actual, real reply-to address). I told him I no longer was in a position to buy stock photos, so “please remove me from your mailing list.”
May 22 – I’m still getting spam, so I try the unsubscribe option again. No dice.
May 22 – I send this message to firstname.lastname@example.org: “I should be able to unsubscribe. I believe Jupiter’s non-functioning unsubscribe email address is in violation of the anti-spam laws. Please fix this. Thanks.”
May 29 – The sales rep sending out spam says he’s trying to take care of this for me. He wants to know if I want to be completely removed from every email list they have. I tell him “yes.”
June 3 – Still getting spam. Try unsubscribing again. Nope. Send emails begging: “Unsubscribe me pleassseeeee.”
June 5 – More spam. I’m f**king pissed now. Blood boiling. I go online and Google as many Jupiter email addresses I can find, then send the following message to 26 employees of the company: “Sorry, I don’t want to be a jerk, but nothing else has worked and I’m out of options… I’ve tried THREE TIMES to unsubscribe from your mailing list, but YOUR UNSUBSCRIBE EMAIL ADDRESS HAS BEEN DISABLED, which, by the way, IS ILLEGAL. ILLEGAL! My patience has expired. An “unsubscribe” process that should have taken 3 seconds has now taken seven emails (make that 8, with this one) over the span of a month. A MONTH???? EIGHT EMAILS??? This is unacceptable. I’ve highlighted the most-relevant excerpts from this process in my messages below. I think everyone can agree that this would push even the most patient and understanding person past the breaking point. Your company will IMMEDIATELY find a way to stop sending me emails. IMMEDIATELY. NOW. Thank you —in advance— for your swift and effective response. P.S. – I don’t want any more emails. Period. That includes apologies or explanations. I don’t want to see another email from Jupiter EVER. Just take me off your list. All of them.”
June 6-15 – Despite my request to the contrary, I get emails from these folks apologizing and promising to do whatever they can to remedy the situation. “Eff you… just do it,” I’m thinking.
July 24 – Yep, you guessed it. BINGO! Another promotional spam email. This time, the message was short and to the point: “You have got to be kidding me… One more email from you and I’m calling a lawyer. Got it? – jp”
July 25 – The sales guy figures out the only way he can stop email from getting to me is to go in and change my email address. He can’t delete it. He can’t change its settings. All he can do is garble up the address so that it bounces back.
Future – If I get another email, I’ll spend up to $5,000 of my own money on a lawyer.
Frightening, yes? It’s all too common. From Greg:
The CAN-SPAM Act uses broad language. Where Jeffry says he didn’t sign up for e-mails is an example of this, as businesses are allowed to dispatch e-mails to clients/patrons without a prompt. But Jeffry was facing a problem that’s fairly common – it’s not that the people sending you the automated e-mail don’t provide a solution, it’s that the solution doesn’t work.
In thinking more and more about SPAM, I realized a fundamental truth: SPAM is in the eye of the beholder. Jeffry didn’t want his e-mail about pictures just like anyone else might not want chain e-mails about the Arctic Fox or the Presidential Campaign. In either case, they’re a grievance, but it’s the simple fact that you’re getting a whole lot of what you DON’T want that makes it so aggravating.
Special thanks to Jeffry for sharing his indignation with us.