It's Wednesday – do you know where your sales staff are?


I received an email yesterday with the subject “Please confirm your lunch reservation”. It didn’t look like a typical spam subject line, but wasn’t from anywhere I recognized.
I take a look.

I’ve reserved a seat for you (and up to 2 guests from Word) at your choice of upcoming, complimentary lunch seminars that I will be hosting around the Bay Area …

Sure enough, it’s spam. And it was sent by a “senior account executive” at an ESP.
I’m pretty sure it was sent using harvested or epended data – they think my company name is “Word” rather than “Word to the Wise”, it was sent to my personal email address rather than my one, and the postal address information I found they had on file was wildly wrong – “San Francisco, CA 94101” isn’t quite as obviously fake as “Beverly Hills, CA 90210”, but it’s close. They probably bought a list from Jigsaw or one of their competitors.
There’s no pretense of permission – I didn’t recognize them, didn’t give them my email address, and have no interest in their offerings. If they’re purchasing lists this bad, that’s probably true of most of the recipients – and those recipients are going to consider it spam too.
That’s not all. It probably violates CAN-SPAM. There’s the deceptive subject line and also several problems with the unsubscription link that probably make it non-compliant. Any ISP postmaster, spam filter maintainer or blacklist volunteer who looks at the mail is not going to be impressed. Heck, one blacklist maintainer – one of the sane, responsible, professional ones – I mentioned it to thought it would be adequate grounds for adding the sender to their blacklist.
Yet the ESP is reasonably mainstream. They’re a MAAWG member, and it turns out I know their deliverability / isp relations manager. I’m pretty sure they don’t let their customers get away with this sort of thing – but internal (or “friends and family”) accounts don’t get the same sort of oversight as customers, much the same as most other companies.
The sales guy sent it through the ESPs production systems – it’s from one of their smarthosts, DKIM signed by the ESP and uses the ESPs click-tracking domain in the body of the message. So the spam is going to damage their reputation – IP, domain and social.
I’m betting that they’ll be seeing higher complaint rates and some delivery problems over the next few days, due to one sales guy sending spam using their systems. Longer term, and potentially more seriously, people in the email industry are likely to remember them as spammers and be less prone to be helpful or cut them slack when they make a mistake.
It’s Wednesday. Do you know where your sales staff are?

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  • This is a bit like when I got an email from a sales guy at Return Path “reaching out” to “marketers like [me]”. I’m not a marketer – I don’t even work for one – I’m a developer, and I’d enquired a couple of months prior about a couple of Return Path’s products. It all turned out nicely in the end, got a nice apology from someone after I mentioned it on Twitter. Made me chuckle, though.

By steve

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