Oct 09

SpamWars: Update on Ashley Julian / Trent and Company

You may remember this post in which I complained about excessive spam from Cision (and it worked), or this post about Ashley Julian at Trent and Company.

Got an email from Ashley today (23 days after my post went up and months after I sent her multiple polite emails asking her to stop spamming me):

From: Ashley Julian [ashleynjulian@gmail.com]
Date: Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM
Subject: Emails
To: David Rothman

Dear Mr. Rothman –

I am writing from my personal email to let you know that I have removed you from all of my contact lists. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience I have caused you and I assure you that you will never hear from me again. I would like to ask if it would be possible for you to remove your entry about me from your blog. As I am sure you can understand, I do not want this to be something that immediately comes up when my name or my company is Googled.

Again, my sincerest apologies.
Ashley

Ashley, if you don’t want to be called out in public for rude behavior…maybe you should end the behavior. I DO understand why you don’t want people stumbling across the post. Do YOU understand that your practices are rude and unacceptable?

No, I will not remove the post.

I will, however, vow not to send repeated, unsolicited emails to your personal email account and ignore your polite requests that I stop.

THAT, I think, is fair.

Oct 04

Toss out your answering machine

(This may be seen as off-topic for some readers, but I’m writing about it as an example of technology simplifying my life.)

I’ve been slowing realizing over the last several months that neither Liz nor I religiously check our home answering machine. This is bad, because there may be important messages.

We both, however, check our email religiously. I was convinced there was a better way for us to manage the calls to our home that we missed. Eventually, I realized that Google Voice would work quite nicely. Here’s what I did:

In Google services:

1. Set up a new Gmail account.

2. Signed up for Google Voice and chose a number that is local for us.

3. In Settings > Phones, I turned OFF all phones (DEselected the check boxes)…so that none of the phones associated with the account would ring when this number was called. This means that all calls to this number would, by default, go straight to voicemail.

4. In Settings > Voicemail & Text, I recorded a new greeting appropriate for our home phone and set it as the default greeting for all calls.

5. In Settings > Voicemail & Text >Voicemail Notifications, I set notifications to be sent to the account’s Gmail address.

6. I also elected on this screen to have voicemails transcribed. These transcriptions are far from perfect, but they often provide enough information to let us know what should be done with the message.

With my home phone service provider:
(Our home phone provider is Time Warner Cable- they have a VoiceZone service you can sign into to manage these settings yourself. Your provider may or may not have something similar- call them and ask!)

I set calls to forward to my new Google Voice number if we did not answer after four rings:

Back to the new Gmail account:

7. Now that this new Gmail account was receiving emails from Gvoice with the date/time, number, the machine transcription of the message and a link to play the audio, it was time to make sure that Liz and I both got them.

First, I set up all emails from this account to be forwarded to my main email account. Next, I set up a filter to make sure all such emails were forwarded to Liz’s main email account.

So now we were each getting the email when someone called our home phone and left a message.

8. Lastly, I wanted to make sure that neither Liz nor I would accidentally overlook such voicemail-containing emails when we received them, so I made one more filter for each of us that slaps on a big red label:

lastfilter

So here’s what it looks like in my inbox when someone calls our home phone number and leaves a message:
inboxview

The email contains a link to a Web-based audio player through which either one of us can listen to the message if the machine-transcription is insufficient (as it often is).

Results:

1. We can’t fail to notice that we have messages (as we sometimes do now with the little blinking red light on our answering machine).

2. We no longer have to worry about whether one of us or the other has heard a particular message and wonder if it can safely be deleted. We can manage our own listening as we would our own reading. It is as if we are both “cc’d” on voicemails left on our home phone.

3. Neither of us can accidentally delete old messages.

4. We can both easily access our messages anywhere.

5. We’re throwing out our answering machine without having to pay anyone for voicemail service.

🙂

Sep 16

Ashley Julian at Trent and Company

[Ashley responded! see update here]

Maybe it isn’t fair to pick on Cision quite so much. After all, there are lots of other spammers who don’t even respond to my polite requests asking to be removed from their distribution lists.

One of my least favorite of these is Ashley Julian at Trent and Company.

ashley@trentandcompany.com
nancy@trentandcompany.com

(Nancy is the President of this firm and can also be reached at 212-966-0024. Anyone have an auto-dialer I can borrow?)

If you’d like to make me smile, please send these two some email? Thanks!

Sep 16

Dear Cision…

To the folks at Cision

I receive a HUGE amount of unsolicited email (aka SPAM, UBE or UCE) in which I have no interest. This SPAM is problematic for me because I am a busy person with many things to do. Wading through this dreck to get to information I actually want takes up far too much of my valuable time.

An impressive proportion of this SPAM comes from your clients with a link to your site at which I can “opt out” of receiving future emails from that client.

Here’s the automated response your clients will receive when I get email from them through your services:


It is bad enough to receive unsolicited bulk email, but getting it from a Cision client is especially unpleasant.

Yours is only one of far too many organizations who send me emails like this. In order to “opt out” (which is an odd term because I never “opted in”) of emails from EACH of Cision’s clients, I have to click on a link in the email. This wouldn’t be so awful if:

1. …I had “opted in”
2. …Cision allowed me to “opt out” of emails from ALL their clients at once. They don’t. I have to “opt out” of email from each one of their clients.
3. …Cision offered contact information at their site where I could directly express these concerns to them.

Since none of these things is true, I urge you to take up this issue with Cision. I also urge you to either stop using bulk email entirely or at least use it much more selectively. If you had ever taken 2 minutes to look at my blog, you’d see that your message is a poor fit for my little site.

Sincerely,

-David L. Rothman
http://davidrothman.net

This email is an automated response. I have not seen your email, nor will I ever see any email sent to me by a Cision system.

Since you offer no universal “opt-out” nor information on how to reach you and request to be removed from your database, I’m hoping this post might reach you somehow. If it doesn’t, you’re not very good at what you claim to do.

While you operate as a supposedly reputable company providing a valuable marketing service, I think you no better than the spammers who send me unsolicited email offering products that claim to alter the size or function of sexual organs.

Please, be better than them and let people like me choose to stop being harassed by people like you.

Most sincerely,

-David Rothman

[UPDATE]

Well, it worked. Received this email:


from Libby vanBuskirk to David Rothman
date Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 4:32 PM
subject Removal from Cision
mailed-by cision.com
4:32 PM (30 minutes ago)

Hello Mr. Rothman,

I work for Cision, the media research company based in Chicago. In response to your blog post, I just wanted to let you know that we have removed your name and contact information from our database. I sincerely apologize for the problems this listing has caused you.

Thank you,
____________________________________________
Libby vanBuskirk
Supervisor, Internet Media

CISION US, INC.
332 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60604
Direct: 312-873-6644
Main: 1-866-639-5087

Email: Libby.vanBuskirk@cision.com

So if you get an absurd number of these emails, Libby may be the person to contact.

Now they need to make it possible for recipients to remove themselves without having to resort to this sort of public shaming.

[/UPDATE]