Another list purchase horror story

Last week Ken wrote about a marketer who is claiming he was ripped off by Target Point in a purchased list deal. To the purchaser’s credit he actually looked at the email addresses provided by Target Point, something many list purchasers don’t seem to do. This gave him some idea that the list was not opt-in.

[…] 788 of the addresses contained some combination or abbreviation of the words “customer service,” or “customer care.”
Also, 193 of the addresses were “accounting@,” 455 of the addresses were “admin@,” 84 of the addresses were “administration@” or “administrator@,” 223 of the addresses were “careers@,” 108 of the addresses were “comment@” or “comments@,” 297 of the addresses were “contact@,” 160 of the addresses were “service@,” 1,448 of the addresses were “sales@,” and a whopping 7,684 addresses were “info@.”

Many clients come to me wondering why they are having such difficulty mailing their ‘guaranteed double opt in list’ that they purchased through a vendor like Target Point. One quick look at the list shows addresses similar to the above. Role accounts are almost never found on opt-in lists (with some exceptions) and finding lots of “info@” or “administrator@” address is a good sign that there are problems with the seller.
The most important thing to remember is that just removing the obvious role accounts from the purchased list is not going to magically make the list OK. There are going to be problems with the other addresses on the list, too. Mailing them will cause you problems.
Yet another example of why mailing purchased lists is bad. Not only do they cause delivery problems, but sometimes you don’t even get what you pay for.


  1. Jeff Ginsberg says

    That sounds pretty harsh…but it’s usually is the way with purchased lists isn’t it?
    Do you know of a real source to buy opt-in email addresses?
    Purchase and opt-in don’t belong in the same sentence!

  2. John Caldwell says

    So the purchaser was “smart” enough to identify “problem” email addresses in a purchased list, but is naive about purchasing lists?
    I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t pass the smell test for me….
    I have no sympathy for the purchaser. To me it’s just one shady character getting ripped off by another shady character….

  3. Peter Roebuck says

    I agree John that the list doesn’t pass the smell test. I know your position on purchased lists and agree with you in general but think you can be a bit harsh when criticizing ALL list buyers.
    We don’t buy or rent lists because we’ve never found one that actually worked, but we do test it every 6-9 months with one of our clients. As direct marketers, we are always looking for new ways to prospect for new customers and rented email addresses, if done properly, should be no different from renting physical mailing addresses. With over 25 years in direct mail catalog experience, we know that catalogers are sending fewer catalogs and moving from print media to other alternatives, most significantly email. I believe that in time, these catalogers will begin renting/trading their email lists just like they currently rent/trade their physical mailing addresses. Once they figure out how to do this legally and ethically, I hope that this type of prospecting will become feasible and an alternative to others like Google PPC.
    Our email deliverability vendor Return Path was in the list brokering business until only a few months back. Unfortunately, I never got around to testing their list.
    In the meantime, we tell our clients that renting lists is not an option and give them the most recent test results from November 2008. I’ve also blogged about our miserable list buying/renting test results as we continue to strongly recommend avoiding this as an option.
    I always enjoy your comments John. Keep it up!

  4. Delivery Blog Carnival at Word to the Wise says

    […] comment that prompted our conversation is: rented email addresses, if done properly, should be no different […]

  5. Where to rent or buy email lists for a survey? « says

    […] post on Word to the Wise – another list purchase horror story – reminded me of a very similar experience a few years ago when a client supplied us their […]


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