Posts tagged “spam”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • American Idol sponsor AT&T sends text-message ads for upcoming season – Note that they included an opt-out and only targeted heavy texters and previous voters. But this quote from the article is the best: "Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, said the message was meant as a friendly reminder." Do companies really believe that advertising – especially intrusive text ads that were not opt-in are "friendly reminders?" That's Pentagon-level rhetoric!

Spammers as culture watchers

Just got this bit of sp@m with the subject line: Make Money with Google Bailout Plan

I love how they evoke the government bailouts as something now available to you, potential customer mark, and tie it to Google, a recent blue-chippy money brand. Of course, the image is something they can keep reusing and change the subject line as the cultural story around the economy keeps evolving.

One could track the zeitgeist by following the thrust of our sp@m.

iTunes helps me help myself

I had to email iTunes the other day about an issue with my account. I composed and sent my message using their web-based contact system, and a little message box popped up.

The message said that since there was a chance iTunes’ response to my inquiry might end up in my Spam box, a test message would be sent within 15 minutes. If I didn’t get the test message, I was given several steps to take, including adding the iTunes email address to my contacts so that the real message would get through.

I’ve never had a site pre-troubleshoot like this for me, and I thought it was a really elegant and collaborative way of making sure I got the communication I was asking for. Nice job on this one, Apple.

It’s interesting to see workaround strategies like this evolving when things like spam filters–conceived as solutions–become problems.

Loss of context

From What I’ve Learned: Vint Cerf (“creator of the Internet”) in the latest Esquire magazine (italics mine)

There was a first “Oh, no!” moment. That was the first time I saw spam pop up. It could have been as early as ’79. A digital-equipment corporation sent a note around announcing a job opening, and we all blew up, saying, This is not for advertising! This is for serious work!

(Update: link to article here)

It’s not A digital-equipment corporation (and really, who speaks like that?) It’s Digital Equipment Corporation, aka DEC, aka Digital.

One letter changes the details of the story somewhat (I suppose it’s not crucial to know who sent this first spam), enough to make it clear that the copy editor had no context about the era in technology and business that Cerf was talking about.

I’m reminded of the challenges with interviews transcribed using an overseas service:

Male: It keeps searching and then it is–

Female: So what did it come up with?

Male: Well, I did come up with tickets.

Female: Get out, you are kidding me. I should go, where is this at? In Denver?

Male: Denver, yeah. In the Betsey Center.

Female: Okay, well try and find me some tickets in Tampa.

I’m pretty sure the Betsey Center is actually The Pepsi Center.

Foreign Grocery Sp@m

Hot on the heels of my Foreign Grocery Museum article in Ambidextrous Magazine, I received a piece of spam informing me of the availability of Poppins cereals in Kuwait.

I really like their enthusiastic descriptions of the benefits provided: true value for the money, great morning start, all the energy it needs, essential for the growth of children, etc.


And if we needed further proof that they were watching this blog, the email asked me to take a survey about Poppins. We [heart] surveys!

Opposite day?

Today I received a newsletter from some furniture design company. As far as I know, I’ve never heard of them nor asked to receive their newsletter. Isn’t that um spam?

I used the link in the newsletter to unsub:

Press the button and I get this:
which I don’t read carefully, presuming that in fact it is removing me from their list, until moments later I get this email:

Subject: You’re on my list!


Thanks so much for joining our list, your subscription was a success. If you have any questions about our emails or have any feedback of your own, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email. We’d love to hear from you.

Also, We’ll be including a removal link in every email we send you, so you can leave our list any time that suits you

Ohhhhhhh. The unsubscribe link takes you to an unsubscribe page which then asks you to confirm your SUBSCRIPTION. Nice inescapable loop, folks.

Spam attack

Our ISP, and especially this blog, is under some sort of comment spam attack, substantial enough to hamper system performance and making this site and others at the same host difficult to reach and use.

The ISP has forcibly shut down comments to this blog. I will expect this to be a very short-term measure, otherwise I’ll have to look for other hosting.

Update: despite being told they had done this, they now say they have not done this but will temporarily do so during attacks. So confusing! At least if you see things behaving weirdly here you’ll have some idea why…

Hindu! There are 700 million of us! (That’s super)

Sure, I’ve been getting spam for/from other continents for a long, long, long time, but still I was amused by spam I got today:

Subject: Wish You Very Happy Diwali

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Best wishes to you and your family for a Very Happy Diwali and a Pleasant,
Healthy and Prosperous New Year. May the festival of lights brighten up
your life in every possible way !!

We sincerely wish to extend our support for any of your corporate needs in
following areas. (products/services).


Keeping spam out of your brand?


I imagine many folks are familiar with the email newsletters from Constant Contact, that feature the SafeUnsubscribe logo above? I’ve received any number of newsletters sent via their service always from business or people I know. Their unsub mechanism has always seemed reliable, and I’ve felt good about the company as an alternative to other ways of sending mass-email that get flagged as spam, etc.

I was surprised, therefore, to get this:

An ad for some online pajama sales. With someone else’s name in the body of the ad (where my name presumably would be). I tried to unsub but the link didn’t work.

[Perhaps this was some sort of phishing scam, like those fake emails we receive from eBay, PayPal and every bank imaginable, asking us to log in and verify our accounts – those messages are clever fakes and don’t come from the companies they appear to come from].

I thought this was semi-legit and so I contacted the company about this messed up message they were sending out. Their less-than-helpful reply.

Dear Steve,

Thank you for contacting Constant Contact Customer Support.

We checked the account from which you received the campaign email and found that you have received a test email of one of the campaigns created in this account.

We understand that you tried to unsubscribe from this listing by clicking on the Unsubscribe link in the campaign but were unsuccessful.

Please be informed that certain features like “Unsubscribe” link do not function in the test email. If you wish to be removed from the mailing list please respond to the person who sent this campaign with your concern.

We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

If you have any further questions please send us a note.

Constant Contact Support

What? So they aren’t responsible for what is sent out? And send me off to someone else? As far as a test email, that’s absolute bunk. I received three more of the pajama ads, all from different From: addresses. Someone is spamming either with or without the consent of Constant Contact.

If it wasn’t from them at all, you’d think they would have identified that, rather than the ridiculous “test email” story.

I contacted their abuse address, which I should have done in the first place. This was a few wees ago, and they’ve completed ignored me.

Of course, bad customer service is always a bad reflection on your brand, but this company’s core brand seems to be that they are a trusted delivery vehicle for email – their stuff is screened, bonded, whatever, to be NOT spam. They’re used for spam, and they drop the ball, entirely.

How could anyone trust them, or in fact, permit them to send us email, if this is what we are letting ourselves in for. Maybe they are known widely as a spamhaus (as they are called) but I’d never been aware of it. I’m going to assume they are, however.

My second run-in with bad support around service abuse comes from LinkedIn, a social networking site. People connect with others they know; of course, what it means to know someone is up for interpretation and LinkedIn’s own version of what those links should represent has been ignored by many people. A few weeks ago someone appeared to be running amok and sending linking invitations to as many people as humanly possible. I received a direct invitation which I declined (this is not someone I knew at all), but saw them connecting with others I knew later that day.

The next day I received another connection attempt from the same person, this time through the “school colleague” feature of the system. At this point I was fed up; the system expects people to behave reasonably, this person wasn’t, and now I was getting repeated unwanted solicitations. I contacted LinkedIn about it:

Thank you for your email. We apologize for the experience you have had. LinkedIn is very concerned with member experience.

LinkedIn can assure you, LinkedIn was not the source of the spam you received. As stated in LinkedIn’s Privacy Policy:

“Your privacy is our top concern. We work hard to earn and keep your trust, so we adhere to the following principles to protect your privacy:

  • We will never rent or sell your personal information to third parties for marketing purposes
  • We will never share your contact information with another user, unless both of you choose to contact one another
  • Any sensitive information that you provide will be secured with all industry standard protocols and technology”
    • Would you please tell us what spam you received? Is it possible for you to forward copies of the emails (including full header information) so we may investigate the source of the emails?


      Loretta Thomas
      LinkedIn Customer Service

Of course, I described the situation clearly in my first message, but they obviously didn’t read that. I used the “spam” word and that clearly blinds support staff from reading the rest of the message. I sent in the message in question, and of course, have heard nothing weeks later.

Privacy is becoming a ridiculously heated topic now, and it’s intersting to see companies who are offering different forms of introduction/connection services fail to – when it’s right in front of them – protect the privacy and quality of communication that their members receive. All the while, of course, proclaiming how they are indeed doing so. It’s pathetic!

Update: July 12 – I hear back

This account has been cancelled for abuse. It was cancelled on 6/15/06.

Thank you,

Customer Compliance
Constant Contact

Home Depot are privacy scumbags?

I was trying to snag an interesting bargain at HomeDepot that I found on so I registered with their site, figuring if it knew my local area it might better find available stock for me. I declined to receive any of their 8 mailings and figured that was that.

I get a registration confirmation that is kind of scary

Steve, this confirmation email verifies your recent registration at You will not receive additional email from The Home Depot unless you opt-in for our email offerings or purchase at

[various other content in the welcome email snipped]

You may be removed from this list by calling 1-800-430-3376, or mailing your request to Customer Care at:

The Home Depot
2455 Paces Ferry Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30339

So it’s confusing, for one. Why do I need to be removed from this list if I won’t receive anything else anyway? And why will they presume to add me to this (or some other) list when I make a purchase? Forcing me to write or call someone to opt-out? That’s heinous. Definitely makes me rethink my purchase, if I am therefore forced to make a call to opt-out.


I blogged previously about trouble commenting on BusinessWeek blogs. Turns out that my ISP (which is SBC) has been blacklisted for some nefarious activity. Trying to submit a comment redirects me to a horrible page

DSBL: Listing Data
If you’re not sure why you were referred to this webpage, please read this page first.


State: Listed
Listed in unconfirmed ( yes
Listed in singlehop ( yes
Listed in multihop ( no
Record last changed: 2004/Oct/29 05:03:49 UTC
Reverse DNS identifies server as:


2004/Oct/29 05:03:27 UTC Listed in Unconfirmed (view message)
2004/Oct/29 05:03:27 UTC Listed in Singlehop (view message)
2005/Oct/11 15:05:52 UTC Removal Confirmation Sent EMail address:
Requestor IP:
Message Report: accepted message.
Remote host said: 250 2.0.0 j9BF4f7

and of course, it’s up to someone at the ridiculous monolith at SBC to fix this. Yeah, like that’ll happen.

I guess I won’t be joining in on the BusinessWeek blog dialog anytime soon!

Squid Spam

I received this spam today

To: steve@
Subject: Announcing GIANT SQUID world event survey


Spirit Quest is a collection of professionals who can succeed in surveying the Giant Squid for the very first time alive and in its own natural habitat.

During surveys other unknown creatures and undiscovered artifacts are likely to be found. This will be seen worldwide on sattelite tv.

I seek now museums and supporting parties to join in sponsorship and other ways for this very important set of expeditions.

The advanced subsea vehicles are designed and tested, ready in storage for final fittings and installation.

I propose the procurement of two 24m sailing ships as each expedition is a duration of 7 months at sea without coming to port. Together these vessels will operate silently 24/7 in all weathers and the subsea vehicles will launch to the great depths required. Both ships will be broadcasting live to the internet as well as documenting evidence for later broadcast.

I look forward to your positive involvement and association with this world class event.

All the best

Roy Dymond MD Principle Spirit Quest

Media Partners

Blogs can help, part 2

I had previously blogged about how a kind soul at AOL saw my frustrations with ending the torrent of antiSpam messages. Today, another kind soul wrote me. They had seen the complaint, they had investigated on their own and thought that things were worked out, but wanted to check back with me.

I’m so pleased when this happens; I imagine for one of these two folks, if not both, handling this problem when I contacted them through official channels fell within the scope of their job, and I don’t understand why it wasn’t solvable that way, but again I must salute the proactive surfers who are contacting people on their own and troubleshooting outside the system.


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