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End of quarter spam

There has been a plethora of big brand companies doing stupid stuff with marketing recently. I can only figure it’s end of quarter and everyone is looking to pump up their numbers as fast as possible.
I talked about Millenium hotels sending me with an utterly irrelevant ad earlier this week.
@Yahoomail direct message spammed all their twitter followers with an ad for something related to the new Yahoo mail product.
Anyone watching my twitter feed yesterday probably noticed me complaining about spam from Dell.
All of these things are just examples of sloppy marketing. In Dell’s case it’s even worse because they sent me multiple copies of the spam to different addresses. Two copies of the same “SHOP NOW!” email to different addresses, one of which has never been given to Dell.
Mail to the first address is unquestionably spam and I did send in a complaint to Dell’s ESP. That address is never used to sign up for anything. I did try clicking on the “update your subscription” link in the footer and Dell’s website helpfully told me that address was not on their mailing lists. Looks like Dell bought a list.
The second address is one that was involved with the purchase of software from Dell last July. This is the first non-transactional mail sent to that address. I can’t necessarily call the email spam as I did give it to Dell during the course of a transaction. However, Dell could have done a lot better in managing our “relationship” than they did.
Dell collected my email address as part of a transaction in July 2010. They did not start sending marketing mail to this address until May 2011. While Dell is a major brand and most people would recognize the name and may be a little less inclined to hit “this is spam” waiting 10 months between a purchase and regular mailings is a bad idea.  People who don’t use tagged addresses may forget they gave the sender an email address and automatically send in a spam complaint.
Sitting on an address for 10 months means Dell really should have done a welcome series, or even just a single welcome email, to ease the transition from no mail to regular mail. But, no, they just send me an email advertising their sales.
We’ve been Dell customers for quite a while, and all of our purchases have been enterprise grade hardware or software to run on those servers. We’ve never purchased anything remotely like office computers. But the sales flyer was for desktops, printers and monitors. Dell knows what I purchased from there, so why are they sending me ads for things I’ve never bought?
We have our own Dell sales rep, and my only involvement in the transaction is source of payment. Adding me to a product list really feels like spam.
Then there was the email itself.  The “update your subscription” link was broken and told me I wasn’t subscribed to their list. I mentioned it to Steve and he pointed out that particular link had been broken “forever.” How long has it been since anyone inside of Dell has checked that their footer links work?
What is Dell up to? Who knows. But they unarguably are sending mail to addresses that never opted in. And even if you consider an email giving during a purchase process their handling of that particular address was appalling and in violation of almost every good practice out there.
 

9 comments

  1. Martijn Grooten says

    I always get the feeling Dell spends all their money on building good machines and then lets the CEO’s 16-year-old nephew do the marketing for a free laptop. It’s not just the addresses they send emails to, or the products they’re advertising (one could argue that, if you’re a very happy business customer, you might want to buy a Dell for home use too). The way emails are written (“Hello from Dell!!!!” – I am not making this up) they could take a leaf out of your average 419 spammer’s book.

  2. Richard Johnson says

    Dell’s marketing mail feels like and seems like spam because it really is spam. You bought something once. You didn’t explicitly sign up for the marketing list.
    When I give an email address to a company for transactional messages, it’s only for transactional messages. If I want to sign up for a marketing list, I do so with an address on an entirely different provider. This keeps my main work mail stream (“courier arrival time on 4-hour guaranteed replacement part delivery”) clear of lower priority distractions (“buy more of our stuff!”).
    Also, I’ve given up trying to “unsubscribe” from such lists, because like Dell, no-one else doing this kind of spamming has a functioning subscription management link either. It’s gotten so bad I won’t even check the links any more.

  3. John Levine says

    Did the mail have a working opt-out, or was it also CAN SPAM illegal?

    1. laura says

      I clicked the “unsubscribe” link as well. I’m still getting mail, but it’s not been 10 days, yet.

  4. pgl says

    10 days – because of course they need to wait until someone cycles their penny farthing down to the city post office in order to telegraph your unsubscribe request into national headquarters…

  5. pgl says

    PS: I know it’s the law. It’s just always seemed a little silly to me.

  6. Richard Johnson says

    It’s not silly. 10 days is just the best they could buy.
    Subscribe is instant. Unsubscribe takes a long time so they can spam you more while they ride that penny farthing and try to find the telegraph operator.
    It’s like they realize they’ve already lost you as a customer with the first spam, and now just want to hurt you back for not liking them. Marketers like those follow grade school playground diss rules…

  7. Where do you accept reports? – Word to the Wise says

    […] senders don’t actively monitor their abuse address. A few months ago I talked about getting spam from Dell to multiple email addresses of […]

  8. Spamming ESPs: the followup – Word to the Wise says

    […] similar thing happened when I posted about Dell spamming me. Dell has multiple ESPs, and one of their ESPs contacted me directly in case they were the ones […]

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