Social invading everything

I discovered, inadvertently, that there is a business networking site modeled after dating site. If you’re selling something you go on the site and register as a seller. If you’re buying something you go on the site and register as a buyer. Buyers can post RFIs and sellers can respond.

Decent enough business model, they’ve even fleshed it out so the site itself acts as an invoicing and billing mechanism.

That’s how I discovered it, one of our very large international telco customers decided they wanted to use this site for billing. Many large telcos expect vendors to use their proprietary site, so I wasn’t that surprised when they asked. And, given they’re international being able to bill them electronically just means I don’t have to remember to use the international stamps.

At the behest of our customer, I signed up at the website. It’s like most social networking sites, create a profile, categorize yourself, make everything public. The thing is, I don’t want to use this site to find new customers. I am just using it because one of my current customers is expecting it. Don’t get me wrong, Abacus is a great product and our customers are extremely happy with it, but it’s pretty niche. It’s not something that’s going to be searched for on a generic website.

I thought that when I set my profile to private that would be some sort of signal to keep me out of the main directory of the site. This morning I realized that wasn’t true when I got a bunch of emails telling me about all these companies looking for “business software” (the closest category I could find).

Getting a bunch of irrelevant mail was annoying enough. Even worse, there was no unsub link in the email. Eventually, I discovered an entire page of email options that were not made clear to me up front. I also sent mail to support and suggested that they talk to their lawyers to clarify whether their opt-out option was consistent with CAN SPAM. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, but I am not a lawyer.

To the company’s credit, they did have good support and my questions through support were answered in a timely fashion. One of their support reps even called me on the phone to clarify what it was that I wanted to happen and walk me through their email options. She was very upfront about yes, they opted everyone in to all the mail at the very beginning of the process. “We’re like for businesses!”

I’m sure there are some businesses that will find this service to be great. But it’s not what I want or need. Despite the fact that their support was so helpful, I don’t have a great feeling about this company. It seems a bit dishonest that I thought I was signing up for a billing portal, but was actually joining “ for businesses. Why couldn’t they make that clear in the 7 emails in 2 days “inviting” me to sign up?

I know I’m a little more sensitive to bad mailing processes than most people, but this was quite an unpleasant experience from the multiple identical emails and reminders before I signed up to the irrelevant stuff I got afterwards.


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