Can You Please Stop The Spam For Me?

Anyone who ever worked with customers knows that customers are ignorant. They don’t care how, what or when, they want their instant gratification now. Now, damn it! I mean NOW! Certain providers are happy to oblige, some would spit in customer’s soup to return the favor, some would turn such a customer away and ask not to come back ever. Everybody’s got their own favorite story to tell.

However, there’s another trend, that you may observed if you stick with your clients long enough, especially if your relationship is more or less successful. It’s the trend of ignorance rising, based on belief that you, the service provider, can solve any problem out there. From e-mails bounced off to Sun stopped rolling around Earth. And the better you do your job, the more unreasonable client’s demands become. While working as a systems administrator awhile ago, I have experienced this firsthand. Once you fixed something unbelievably hard once or twice, clients start thinking you can fix internet for them, no less. With them just asking.

Recently, one of our clients asked us to route a few common e-mailĀ  pointers to actual people’s mailboxes. Immediately they started having, what they called, a “spam problem”. As in: “After he did this we started to have a spam problem”. Inclined to say the famous “welcome to the real world, Neo”, I tried to educate client’s staff on what is spam, how it originates and why I can do absolutely nothing to stop it, except for a set of measures that will definitely reduce it, if applied properly. Client wasn’t interested in spending any time on implementing spam protection (not to mention implement any of the commercial tools), while his staff is forced to use web mail instead of any other e-mail client. I still did what I thought I should – turned on SpamAssassin on the server to at least mark the most obvious cases of spam, so they could bulk-delete them and explained how to use filters in Outlook. Not that I expect any significant improvement of the “spam problem” for that particular client, but too I can’t be very pushy.

One of the reasons, as I see it, for not adopting any solution whatsoever, is that instant gratification thing:

What? You can’t turn off the spam? What about that solution? Still not 100% proof? Then I don’t want any solution at all!

While this approach works perfectly in 10022-SHOE zip code, it doesn’t really work in a world of Bayesian approach to catching spam. The only way to do this is to hire an interpreter from SHOE-ish to English.


Spam From Citysearch (continued)

Just three hours after I posted my rant on Citysearch spam I got a new message from the Angie Eckford. You might think there was an apology or at least a word “sorry”…

So did I. Boy, were we both wrong!

Through 157 words of the reply (not counting signature and subject) there was not a single use of words “sorry”, “apology” or “regret”. What was there, though, are explanation on what went wrong (okay, I don’t know how to use Mail Merge too, but I don’t use it as an excuse), what that person was trying to do (send out a promotion to as many people as possible) and accusations that my previous post made “the entire company tuned into your message you placed online and negative comment about me“.

At least someone listened this time.

Since the first post went public I feel the need to reply here, on this blog as well. I do hope this won’t happen again – neither to me, nor to other people who might have been interested in Citysearch services. After all, CItysearch service seem to be popular and someone somewhere is probably very happy using it.

We have learned our lessons here – mine are “think twice before doing business with Citysearch” and “don’t use your main e-mail even with companies that look big”.


Spam From CitySearch

It’s quite interesting how some people take their jobs as a carte blanche to do pretty much anything they want. Some time ago while doing a marketing research for our clients for web development, I got in touch with Citysearch. Client and I were thinking of trying some of their services but it turned out my other client was already using them and was less then happy. I, for one, thought that it’s the case of “marketing – you’re doing it wrong”, but that’s not the point of this post.

While on the phone with CitySearch sales agent, I was really pushed hard to purchase their services. I actually ran out of polite words to decline – even though I stated the honest reason that we couldn’t take any more clients at that moment. Sales rep kept pushing me almost to the point when I was ready to hang up on her. But – we worked it out, so I hoped it’s over.

I was wrong.

Recently, starting about a month ago, I started getting correspondence from Angie Eckford, the city search rep of some sort. Of course all the e-mails looked personalized, but how personalized can a message be given the subject is something along with “Business Owners Receive 50% off Direct Connections to Qualified Customers” – you can guess all by yourself. To me there’s nothing personal, SpamAssassin on my servers kills plenty of those in a day. Plus the regular Viagra stuff – you know.

Given that there’s a direct phone, personal e-mail and a thin memory that I talked to some human being from that company I replied with the question of “When did I double opted-in into this spam list?”. The reponse was just what I thought it would be: it’s not a spam list, it’s a personal message.

Yeah, right. Viagra guys also sending me personal messages. You know, those that start with “%FIRST_NAME% %LAST_NAME%, you will be suprised!“.

Politely, I replied with “Please, don’t do that again.” – only to get one more piece of citysearch junk in my inbox.

Sure, Citysearch works for some people, most likely – restaurants, local places to go and so on. But I’d rather spend some extra hours working out Google AdWords campaigns to target my clients’ markets, than be a subject of such a dishonest treatment by CitySearch representatives.

Oh, and did you know that cost per click is about ten times cheaper in Google AdWords than in Citysearch campaings?