Where Oh Where Have Your Manners Gone?!

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The blog post below was originally written about a year ago but never published. Why publish it now you ask? This week I got more spam from this same company. It made me so angry that I dug up this post and I hope it gets wide distribution. Here's why.
From 2008 sometime…The other day I got an email in my inbox. It said in part….

Dear Lynda Partner,

Hi, this is Nick Longo the CEO of CoffeeCup Software, you have been selected
as one of the few that I would like to personally invite to become a CoffeeCup Ambassador. This is an exclusive club of our biggest fans, best users, and closest friends.

If you would like to become an Ambassador please Click Here:

……..

Please join us today. We need you as a Fan and Evangelist to spread the word
about CoffeeCup Software.Thank you so much for participating. I am honored to invite you.

My first thought was “I don’t know any Nick Longo”. My second thought was “How did this person get my email address?”

Sound familiar?

It took me awhile but it turns out that when I opened a web hosting account recently, the hosting provider offered a free download of Nick’s software. I did not download it.
So how did they get my email address and why were they sending me emails I didn’t want that did not even have an opt-out link?

Fearful that my brand new, shiny clean email address was out in the big bad world of impolite marketers, I wrote back an equally personal email to my new friend Nick.

Dear Nick
I did not opt-in to receive email from you. Please remove me from your list immediately and confirm that I have been removed.
Thank you
Lynda Partner

OK, so maybe I wasn’t as flowery was he was in his email, but why waste his time with marketing speak? At least I was clear, and, giving him the benefit of the doubt, didn’t come right out and call him a spammer.
The answer came two hours later

Lynda
When you selected to download the software from CoffeeCup you became a user of our software. You can unsubscribe from our e-mail news letters at www.coffeecup.com/email
Scott

Hmmmm, looks like I’ve been bumped off the special CEO list. Nick has passed the baton to Scott. Now if you read the beginning of this article, you know I did not download any software. Even if I did, downloading software is not opting in to get email. I am now a bit peeved – when someone writes to you telling you they didn’t opt-in and requesting that they be removed from your list would you not remove them and send a nicely worded email apologizing?

I decide to pull out my credentials to see if that makes any difference. As my husband says “My, what big credentials you have dear.”

Scott

1) I did not download your software

2) Sending me emails that I did not request is called spam

3) Your unsubscribe link does not work

Why won't you just take me off your list and confirm back to me?

Lynda Partner
– Founder and former CEO of GotCorp – permission-based email marketing software
– Board member of CAUCE Canada (Coalition against Unsolicited Commercial Email)
– Member of the Anti-Spam Task Force for the Canadian Federal Government
– CoFounder of the Email Service Provider's Coalition

So now Scott has an unhappy well-informed person emailing him 1) that his unsubscribe method is flawed or at the very least unclear to the person using it, and 2) that for the 3rd time they’d like his company to remove a name from their list
What does Scott do next? I know you are waiting with bated breath…

Hi

As I said you did download the software. The IP address information all
matches up. I would agree that many you did not know what you were
downloading, but never the less the download occurred and this is how you because a CoffeeCup member.

You can also unsubscribe at any time through http://www.coffeecup.com/email
Scott

What would possess him to use “As I said..” in a customer service email. Is this guy well? How many times would one of your prospects have to ask to be removed from a list before you’d do it for them? And signing someone up as a member does not give you permission to send them emails.
I confess at this point, I am no longer hoping he’ll do the right thing and restore my faith in him. I may have been a bit terse in my next email to him.

Did you even read my email?

I clicked your unsubscribe button. I want you to confirm
that (email address spelled out) is not in your database any
longer – Today please or I will be obliged to report your company to
the many black list spam sites in my database

Lynda

At this point he does write back confirming I have been removed from his list and because my mother raised me to be polite and I am a little ashamed of my last outburst, I send the following

Thank you – after 5 requests we are finally where I wanted to be before I ever heard of your company.

I strongly suggest you change your practices – they are going to come back to bite you, especially if I ever get another unwanted email from you.

I figured we were done right? He finally did the right thing and removed me from his list. But no, a few minutes later I get the coup de grace.

I would also suggest you contact LP (the hosting company they are partnered with) because we show clearly that your account accessed and downloaded our software. You should have them cancel your account or you will still receive e-mail from us.

Scott

So I need to cancel my hosting account to avoid being spammed by a third party software vendor? What can I possibly say at this point, except dear readers, the importance of following best practices (or even common sense) when sending emails to your prospects and customers. If not, it could be your company in a blog posting.
Such a little thing, such a big negative impact.

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3 thoughts on “Where Oh Where Have Your Manners Gone?!

  1. Kelly Rusk

    Wow. Just wow.
    I totally understand how you feel–since working in the (permission-based) email marketing world I’m very picky with my opt-ins and not afraid to give advice when I see someone doing something very wrong.
    I am *appalled* at how many don’t respond AT ALL or bounce back with an invalid address and don’t have working unsubscribes. It’s terrible.
    The worst is AT&T- it sends me my e-bill each and every month. Obviously, being Canadian, I’m not a customer. I’ve tried to reply, contact via web site, search online for contacts and complained on Twitter. I haven’t picked up the phone yet, but that’ll be my next move when I get another email and have the time to pursue it.

  2. Laura Atkins

    Sadly this isn’t that unusual for spammers to blame a 3rd party for their bad addresses. I had a set of spammers get a copy of my quickbooks address and they spammed it repeatedly and insisted I had to opt-out with quickbooks. They seemed unable to understand I’d never opted in for “loan offers.”
    I would, however, take his advice and talk to my hosting company. If I was really feeling sneaky, I’d ask him for the download information that LP provided him. Then I’d call my sales rep or customer support and start making noise. Depending on the company, it may take a little while to find the right person. You can always play the “this spammer told me you gave him my email address and that to opt-out of his list I have to cancel my service. Is this true?” I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest you do threaten to cancel your account, but you can probably find the right person to talk to by following that line of reasoning.
    The other thing to do is contact support and tell them you are concerned about the security of their hosting platform. You have information from a 3rd party that someone is using your account to download software and you need to know what happened, how this could happen and what could be done to secure your hosting service.

  3. Lynda Partner

    thanks for the comments – you are both correct, until I pick up the phone and take this to the next level it will never stop. I wonder though, if even that will work. It will most likely be fuel for another blog post!

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