Mailing Lists or How small business can fall foul of Spam TOS, break CANSPAM laws and create a bad reputation!

By | June 9, 2007

It’s not often that I investigate SPAM, as I have a real distaste for it! This time, however, was different. I was sent a SPAM mail from a company entitled cajun-shop dot com. ( I don’t want to link to this website in this post).

warning-cajun

Naturally, this angered me because I have never registered with them on ANY mailing list. Moreover, they sent the email to an address that is NEVER used for anything, except as a contact address for members to contact me on a discussion forum for TESOL.

So I decided to investigate this one a little further. Now they are so lucky because GMAIL let their spam into my main box! So, guys at Cajunshop.com, don’t forget to thank Google!

cajun-address

First I checked their physical address on Google Maps. To my surprise, well… you take a look and you’ll see the problem!

googlemap-cajun

So, this company must be situated underground , you too can check this image. Ok, invisible offices. Granted that they may have been using an old picture, and the building wasn’t available yet, I decided to dig a little further. I found another Google Map of their old address: 4013 Meadow Ridge Drive, Baton Rouge LA 70817. What else can I find? Well, that place is for sale.

At this point, I began to suspect the company was in fact just a scam. But then I also discovered the following information: A personal profile from http://www.linkedin.com/pub/2/413/025

A GOURMET CAJUN SHOP
4013 Meadow Ridge Dr.
Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Contact: Gordon Totty
Telephone: (225) 751-8112
FAX: (225) 751-3695
E-Mail: [email protected]
Products: Internet site featuring gourmet
Cajun and Creole foods, gifts and
baskets

and

Gordon Totty
A Gourmet Cajun Shop
www.cajun-shop.com
Great Cajun Foods & Gifts
Phone: 225-313-6041
FAX: 225-313-6303

I was now finding a certain consistency in the information I was getting, including past addresses, notations in different documents, and links. Now, I’m sure that their recent email blast must have gone out to thousands and thousands of users, as well as me.

Though at first I thought that they were a 100% unadulterated spammer, now I’m beginning to suspect they may have bought a mailing list from someone in good faith, imported the entire database into their mailing software, and started blasting out emails. I don’t know about your host, but doing this is actually against my own webhost’s company TOS, who ask that all mailing list subscibers have opted in.

The TOS for this website clearly states a number of ways in which the offender broke acceptability rules – pity he wasn’t hosted on Dreamhost, though. It’s one of the principal reasons I DON’T use mailing lists at the moment on this website. My webhost states clearly

Subscriptions

  1. Mailing list subscribers must specifically opt-into the list they are subscribed to. …
  2. Mailing list subscriber information must include the date and time that the subscription was confirmed, as well as the IP address of the subscriber at the time of the subscription. …
  3. The nature of email address use must be fully disclosed, … Privacy Policy.
  4. Lists cannot be procured from outside parties unless the email sender has procured a list from an organization that sells or otherwise shares email distribution lists, (what follows is a incredibly detailed set of requirements ).

So, if you are buying a mailing list because you need to reach your customers, you need to know that the addresses are all taken from opt-in mailing lists, that the manner in which you purchased and planned to use the mailing meets the TOS of YOUR host (not necessarily the one above), and that you can verify all the information in your database. With the CANSPAM legislation, SPAM is no longer just an inconvenience, it’s also becoming illegal.

I would rather that you find ways to build your own opt-in mailing list using the latest software, so that you can meet the more stringent legal requirements, and that you can verify as actually interested in your website’s products and services.

Author: InvestorBlogger

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