Post by Laura Atkins
Interestingly enough, I've taken one of my spamtraps and am testing that very thing with actual spam. I'm about 2 month into data collection and will probably watch what happens over the next month or two before publishing what I'm seeing. But as of now the amount of mail in that account is decreasing, not increasing. We'll see what happens over time.
In terms of non-spam senders, I sign up tagged addresses to many of my customer lists. Very rarely have these addresses ended up getting mail after I unsubscribe. Certainly there's the very rare "network notification" but I have yet to see any real issues with unsubs being transferred to new lists. I see a lot more crap coming into addresses that were stolen from places I've purchased from (redenvelope, I'm talking to you) than crap coming into customer addresses.
I wonder if the reason you're not seeing this problem is that you're
subscribing to lists in the first place?
I've never had issues when I've signed up for a mailing list and
unsubscribed, it's the cases where I've signed up as a customer (to a
service, not to a mailing list) that I've gotten added to mailing lists
and been unable to leave.
A few antidotal examples from my personal mailboxes (I'd suggest
skimming because I'm just ranting now about some places where I can
clearly identify the source of the address):
A DVD rent-by-mail (Netflix without the streaming) has been particularly
bad, every time they switch ESPs they dump their customer list into the
new ESP as a fresh list of safe addresses. I ceased using their services
5-7 years ago, closed my account, and unsubscribed repeatedly.
Another example is the outfit that handles warranty work for a major
hard drive manufacturer. I never gave them my email address in the first
place, but they sent me a "Your drive was received, and a replacement
will be sent" confirmation, which is how I know who they are and where
they got my email address. "As a customer" I'm entitled to their spam on
a variety of topics, and their opt-out either doesn't work (times out),
or it "works", and I get a new topic in a couple months. And how do I
avoid getting re-added to their list? Waive my warranty rights the next
time a drive fails? (Now I use a tagged address -- But the first time it
was my real address)
Another company signed me up for their spam at two addresses for one
warranty claim, 1) at the address I provided them, and 2) at the address
they scraped from the invoice I sent them as proof of purchase. They
honoured the opt-out of the newsletter, but when they have a recall on
any product, I get a notice with a coupon, and sometimes 2-3 more "one
time mailing" that "isn't spam" and has "no need to unsubscribe because
this message is only sent once"
I signed up a tagged address to a big and tall clothing store, started
getting newsletters from their sister store that didn't sell anything in
my size. That took a chance meeting with their marketing director to get
me unsubscribed, as they took every purchase at the big and tall version
of the store as permission to re-subscribe me to their normal-sized suit
store's list (yet oddly, they don't re-add me to the big and tall
store's list, which I would actually like to be on!) -- Luckily this one
was a tagged address.
Or how about Target? They hit me with their breech notification at an
address that they've never been given, despite the fact that I haven't
shopped at Target in over a year since the breech started, and don't
live in the same country as the affected stores -- Not advertising, but
bulk, commercial, and most definitely unsolicited. I'd expect better
targeting from a company that figured out a girl was pregnant and told
her family before she did.
I also get a huge amount of spam at my firstname.lastname over
@gmail.com, an address I've never used for anything except as a test
account at Gmail and for other Google services. But it gets entered by a
lot of people who share my name, but apparently not a high enough IQ to
figure out their own email address. So there are a lot of places that
believe I'm a customer, and just won't take "I'm not now, nor will I
ever be" as an answer, much of which doesn't even have an opt-out link.
Are receipts "transactional" anymore once the company has been notified
that I'm not their customer? I'd argue not. But most online stores have
no way to remove an email address, only to change it.
This is the stuff that's the most difficult to address, and the stuff
that keeps coming back from the dead. I get invitations to movie
premiers and screeners, about a dozen resumes a month, restaurant
invitations, shipping confirmations, etc, much of it follows up with
"Since you're a customer, you get this stuff and have no choice about
it" newsletters. I get tips on maintaining my car (don't have a license,
never owned a car), that dealership "can only change my email address"
but can't remove it from their systems, and
***@dealership-name wasn't acceptable either, oddly enough.
Yup, I was feeling especially professional that day, but in fairness,
this wasn't the first, or second or even third time I contacted them
about it. It was a few years ago, but "even though my warranty expired
and I'm no longer required to get an oil change with them" they'd "love
to keep giving me great service".
One guy was dumb enough to have business cards printed with my email
address. He handed them out for over a month before I finally got enough
info out of a recipient (a photo of the card!) to reach him by phone and
yell at him.
I almost got one guy to stop by having a restaurant talk to him after
making an online reservation. I had a quick chat with the restaurant
manager right before the reservation's time, the manager understood and
talked to him, he said that he already knew Dave. Maybe he did, maybe he
didn't, but I didn't hear from them again.
Then the same guy ordered a cake for delivery to that same restaurant a
month or so later! I came --><-- close to contacting the bakery and
adding "I'm gay!" to the cake and changing it to a picture of a head
poking out of a closet. But I just contacted the bakery and asked them
if they could print a card with a message; I figured he could pay the
$3.50 or whatever fee. I still get spam from the bakery for mother's
day, valentine's day and the like, despite the fact that the baker I
talked to understood the problem, and I even unsubscribed from the first
spam they sent with an unsubscribe link. But hey, I'm a "customer" so it
can't possible be anything but legitimate. (Actually this was 3-4 years
ago, I think the email dried up about 1-2 years ago, but not for many
moons after the unsubscribe)
So yes, despite many people in the industry claiming this type of spam
isn't a problem and that everyone honours unsubs, it is, and they don't,
and as a recipient my only recourse is to change addresses and be more
selective about what address I give out in the future.
But of course the big money is on sending as much spam as possible
within as wide a path as possible, and so any suggestion of actually
verifying a recipient wants advertising before sending it is laughed off
as a "Well I don't see a problem when I don't look very hard" by one of
the professionals who makes money from the same industry that makes
their money sending unwanted spamvertising in the first place.
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