Marketing Versus Real Action, Take 2

Well, it took just a little bit over 24 hours, but I got a response to my cranky missive. I’m not satisfied with the response, but I’m not going to engage in a useless and meaningless exchange.

From: Mike Agent 1234 at [Telco] Member Services
To: Maurice
Subject: Re: Less Marketing, More Action
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2004 16:09:30 -0300

Hello Maurice ,

Thank you for writing. We regret to hear that you do not wish to receive [our] Newsletter and find is to be “a mindless market target”. However please keep in mind that a majority of our customers enjoy our newsletter and wish to receive it. [Ed.: Oh, bite me! Although I don’t have any hard evidence, I seriously doubt that “a majority of … customers enjoy” the newsletter. Furthermore, I didn’t call the newsletter “a mindless market target”; I claimed that Member Services view so-called members that way.]

The […] Newsletter is sent out to all of our customers, and is simply a way to communicate and inform our customers of events, new products, promotions and a variety of other information that is of use to most of our customers. All [Telco] internet customers receive the […] newsletter unless they unsubscribe to it. [Ed.: That is precisely my point about PIPEDA: Telco, I believe, is in breach of it. Customers should be given the opportunity to opt in and NOT be opted in by default. Unfortunately, I haven’t the time to file a complaint with Telco’s privacy officer, but I verily believe I would have a case.]

As for the issue you are having with Spam, we cannot filter out all Spam. Spam that is filtered out arrives in large numbers, it would be impossible to target the spam that arrivers is smaller number intended for specific email addresses. [Ed.: The point Mike seems to be missing is that Telco did have, prior to the strike, efficient server-side spam filters. I recognize that no such filter is bullet proof and that spammers are extremely creative in finding ways to evade filters, but that is why the filters have to be updated regularly. The number of spam messages I receive daily from my other addresses combined, all hosted with Hosting Matters and using Spam Assassin, is far lesser than my single Telco address. MT-related comment spams are the only exception, and that’s something I’m prepared to accept if I persist on not upgrading MT but still want to leave comments open.]

You can configure your email client to filter your email so that messages containing certain words or email addresses are deleted before you see them. This will not stop the email from being sent, but you will not see it on your computer. [Ed.: Not acceptable. It’s not that I don’t want to see the spam messages; it’s that I want them weeded out as much as possible at the server level so that I don’t have to download them.] Be careful when using this feature. If you are too specific with the filtering criteria, you may delete messages that you did not intend to delete. [Ed.: That can also be a problem with server-side filters.] For information on setting up mail filters in your email program, refer to your program’s help files under Message Filters or Message Rules or visit the following websites:

For Netscape Communicator
For Outlook Express

Please note that this process is not supported by the helpdesk. This information is provided for use at your discretion only. [Ed.: I’m also aware, and I accept, that Telco does not support the e-mail program I use, namely Eudora. It still doesn’t change the fact you’ve missed my point.]

I hope that I was able to help. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again at any time. [Ed.: No, you were of no help whatsoever. But I won’t be wasting my time with you since it’s clearly not going to go anywhere.]

Kind regards,

{2} Thoughts on “Marketing Versus Real Action, Take 2

  1. Under the current Spam Act, here in Australia, companies are allowed to send newsletters etc. to clients prior to them opting in. They must contain an opt-out procedure or link and that must be done within 21 days (from memory).

    The Spam Act states that if the person has some kind of on going relationship and the communication is of a topic relating to that relationship then there it’s legal to send it without explicit consent.

    I don’t agree with this but I do appreciate that we’re making some progress towards recognising spam.

  2. Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a lot broader than an anti-spam act, although I doubt it specifically addresses spam. My understanding of PIPEDA is that consent must be obtained by the organization as to the accuracy and use of the information gathered on individuals. But I have never consented to Telco using my e-mail address to receive its newsletter. The loophole companies like Telco rely upon is found in Sect. 7(1)(a), which states that personal information can be collected without an individual’s knowledge or consent if “the collection is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way.” That clause gives marketing departments far too much leeway in defining what “the interests of the individual” are, as they assume, as I wrote in my original message, that we’re all mindless marketing targets itching to spend our money — i.e., we’re consumers before we’re citizens.

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