Tuesday 17 January 2012

More spam

I got two spams, one for Optimax, one for Optical Express. Both spams were sent by "Freedom Marketing".

I called both these laser surgery companies, to tell them that one of their associates was sending spam. Optimax was annoyed that Freedom Marketing were spamming for a competitor, Optical Express weren't too pleased either.

Both of them are going to look into it and report back to me.

I also reported Freedom Marketing (trading as CompareandSave) to Halifax, but they don't seem to be too interested, even though Freedom Marketing are their affiliate number 650. So I went over their head to the Office of Fair Trading.

Optimax came to me via The Affiliate People, so I called them, and spoke to Jackie Falls. She sounded like she'd had this before, and asked me to forward the email, so I did. She said that she'd ask them to show evidence of their previous relationship with me. That'll be interesting - their previous relationship has entirely consisted of spam sent to me.

UKFast got back to me with the name of the company that had sold them my email address - Email Movers Ltd. The phone number he gave me for them doesn't work, so that'll need further investigation. But UKFast told me that, as a result of a complaint they had 13 months ago, they've purchased "at great expense" the Companies House list of email addresses, and they're planning to use that to ensure that they only send emails to companies.

I have to wonder why that would take 13 months; I'd be able to write a program to do that in less than an hour. Still, it's good news that just one complaint can make so much difference. UKFast are still upset about me calling them a "spammer", it would seem that the word has negative associations. Maybe they'd prefer "Sender of unsolicited commercial email"?

UKFast still feel that I'm picking on them. Well, they are in contravention of the  "Privacy in Electronic Communications Regulation, 2003". But if one complaint 13 months ago got such a good result, it's clearly a good idea to complain.

I also phoned "Refreshed Media Ltd" about their spam for "Energy Contract Renewal", on 0800 205 5517 and spoke to Miles Emmett there. He took it seriously (I think that mentioning the "Privacy in Electronic Communications Regulation, 2003" is always a good thing). He said he couldn't give me the name of the company that provided the email address, and I asked him to get permission to disclose that. He said he'll see what he could do.

... later ...

I called Email Movers man, Jamie Gledhill, on his mobile number, 07971 649 453. He was very nice about it, and they do try to comply with the PEC 2003 Regulation, by using the Companies House list to weed out private individuals. He promised that he'd look into how this happened.

Also Optimax called back, asking for copies of the spam, which I've emailed to them.

I think spammers fall into five categories.

1) Reputable companies who have bought a list of email addresses in good faith, having been assured by the vendor that they comply with the PEC 2003 Regulation. For example, UKFast would probably be in that category.

2) Companies whose business model is to become associates of reputable companies with a product to sell, and then buy email lists to sent out lots of email to get business. For example, that would include Freedom Marketing.

3) People who try to sell you "herbal Viagra", replica watches amd medications; I include in this category people who do actually ship you the valueless product that you've purchased.

4) Crooks and scammers offering you £18,000,000, or "work from home", or other deals that aim to extract your money without giving you anything back

5) Attempts to install malicious software on your computer.

I think that 3, 4 and 5 are a lost cause - blocking their emails, or filtering them out is the only possibility. But I do believe it is possible to tackle categories 1 and 2.

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