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elderon

Help. I've been reported but I don't Spam

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Can anyone help me as I am finding it hard to understand exactly how to use my mailing list without getting my email disabled by my hosting company.

The Story:

I operate a ski holiday company and field alot of enquiries every day. As part of this we included the email addresses into our mailing list along with past guests and those that request to go onto our mailing list. As a rule we inform people that we will send them future mailings for special offers and that if they do not wish to receive these then they can easily unsubscribe. We do not send out more than 2 mailings each month.

Each time we send out a mailing (HTML) we include text at the foot of the email offering recipients an easy way of unsubscribing - they are asked to reply to the email and include their email address in the subject line. We then manually delete all their details from our secure online database.

The Problem:

We have now been reported to SpamCop for sending spam and have been warned by our ISP that if we send anymore they will disable our domain as we will black list their servers.

My ISP have sent me the email that was reported and the email address used is not even on our mailing list???

The Solution:

Our susbscribers enjoy receiving our mailings and we often receive comments as to how good they are. The proof being that we always receive bookings from these mailings.

I am not sure what I now have to do in regard to making sure that we do not get blacklisted. It would appear that we have followed all that SpamCop say are good practices and we have never purchased any mailing lists so know that we are using only relevant email addresses that have been collected by ourselves.

The Help:

Does anyone have any ideas as to how I can sort this out. We do not have an unlimited budget that allows us to make huge changes to our administrative tools that help us manage our mailing list.

I find it surprising that SpamCop do not allow individual cases to be heard and make a decision based on evidence provided.

If anyone can offer advice on this I'd be eternally greatful. It is starting to cause sleepless nights as I do not want to feel guilty of spamming when it is something that is a constant problem with my own inbox.

Many thanks,

Elderon

Independent Mountain Holidays

www.independentmountain.com

info[at]independentmountain.com

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In general, you are asking a Frequently Asked Question .... and as such, most of what you seek is already addressed within links found in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) provided within this Forum structure.

On one hand, it's nice hearing that you have an ISP that appears to try handling things appropriately, though the passing on of the actual complaint is normally seen as a a bad thing from this side of the screen .. normally this implies (just as you implied) that a listwashing process is involved. This is not seen as actually handling a spam spew issue, just trying to keep complaints from coming in. Your asking about management of your maillist is seen as a good thing, complaining about the fact that the e-mail address seen in the complaint (yet another FAQ item) can't be used for listwashing isn't taken as a good first step.

Your description of simplay adding any and all e-mail addresses you come across into your mailing list and then providing an opportunity to "opt-out" is not good practice these days, the results are exactly what you are asking about. Again, this is covered in links found in the FAQ here ....

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Our susbscribers enjoy receiving our mailings

Not all of them, apparently, since one of them is reporting your list because they did not ask to receive it.

It would appear that we have followed all that SpamCop say are good practices and we have never purchased any mailing lists so know that we are using only relevant email addresses that have been collected by ourselves.
As they request to be added to your list, do you send a single email to that address to confirm that a. they do indeed want the traffic and b. that the address is owned by the person who wants the traffic? If there is no response, do you ever send anything more to that address?

Incorrect signups happen all the time. I have had my yahoo address for 7 years yet within the last 2 years someone has started trying to use it as their own, signing up for several different lists and even a casino web site, which I could have confirmed and started using their credit card. If simple, I just cancel the account or ignore the request (which should terminate the list addition). If I them start to receive these lists, they go on my blacklist and get reported. I, the owner of the email address used, never signed up for it so it is unsolicited.

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As part of this we included the email addresses into our mailing list along with past guests and those that request to go onto our mailing list. As a rule we inform people that we will send them future mailings for special offers and that if they do not wish to receive these then they can easily unsubscribe. We do not send out more than 2 mailings each month.

25192[/snapback]

Well if I make an enquiry to a company and have to provide an Email address I think I would complain if I started to get, unsolicited, additional mailings every couple of weeks. In fact I think I would be aggrieved if I got those mailings without having been consulted - even as a previous customer.

I think your model for collecting addresses is faulty. Wazoo has suggested that the FAQ would be a good place to start but bear in mind that good practice indicates that you should get clear consent before adding an address to your list. For people who book with you that's fairly easy. You get them to agree on the booking form. For casual enquirers you need to answer their initial enquiry and ask if they would like to continue to receive information from you. Get their permission to continue the relationship beyond answering their enquiry.

Just adding Email addresses guarantees that someone will eventually complain - as appears to be the case.

Andrew

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My ISP have sent me the email that was reported and the email address used is not even on our mailing list???

I am not sure that I understand. It was your email, wasn't it? Do you think that someone else is pirating your mailings?

I agree with the other replies that you need to be more careful about signing people up for emailings. If I don't give my explicit consent to receiving emails on a regular basis right next to where I give you my email address, I consider that you are spamming me if you send me email.

If the email address is not on your mailing list, are you sure that everything is spelled correctly? That's the other problem with not getting a confirmation that the person wants the email - there are mistakes and also malicious people will sign others up without their knowledge.

For people who want to know about whatever it is you offer, probably they do like your emails. Don't spoil it for them by using practices that get you in trouble. (I even get regular emails from companies that I only use once or twice a year, but I like the convenience and occasionally will respond to a 'special.' But there are a lot more than I don't sign up for because it would be such a nuisance deleting all of them. Then I keep their website bookmarked so that when I want to go there, I don't have to search. In other words, there are lots of ways to attract customers and so it is worthwhile to not make enemies by sending emails to ones who don't want them. For every customer that complains, there are 10 who just walk away - isn't that a maxim?)

Miss Betsy

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Many thanks for your response to my query.

I have taken onboard all of your replies and feel it right that I should:

1. Cleanse my mailing list and confirm that all users wish to receive my mailings by asking them to opt-in and create a new list based on this.

Question: Does anyone have any advice as to the Data Protection act and how to make sure that this is done correctly? I'd like to make sure that I do this properly and so avoid having to repeat this in the future.

2. I will also redo my enquires form to include a mandatory field that requires users to choose whether they'd like to receive our mailings (simple yes or no field). In an automated email it would say that you have subscribed and should this not be the case then please reply and you will be removed.

I do have one more query for SpamCop... I will obviously need to send an email out to my mailing list and would hate to get into trouble for this. Is there anyway I can do this and feel confident that SpamCop understand that I am doing this to make sure I do not receive any further complaints?

Many thanks for your help/advice in advance.

Elderon

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2. I will also redo my enquires form to include a mandatory field that requires users to choose whether they'd like to receive our mailings (simple yes or no field). In an automated email it would say that you have subscribed and should this not be the case then please reply and you will be removed.

Elderon

25243[/snapback]

It needs to be the opposite?

If one wishes to continue recieving your emails then they need to reply

If you do NOT get a reply they are NEVER to be bothered again

A good how to do this is by going to Bonded Sender and look at passage CONSENT and passage UNSUSCRIBE to see the riot act on professionalism

Edited by petzl

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I do have one more query for SpamCop... I will obviously need to send an email out to my mailing list and would hate to get into trouble for this. Is there anyway I can do this and feel confident that SpamCop understand that I am doing this to make sure I do not receive any further complaints?

I think some people will say you will have to rebuild your list. However, if you send the confirmation email (no advertising) that simply states that if they want to continue to receive your emailings, then they need to reply, you might be able to do it. Probably, whoever is reporting will not read it however and report it anyway.

If you decide to take the chance, then if you do NOT get a reply, you MUST take those email addresses off your list.

The reason that asking people to unsubscribe is not a good idea is because the spammers will simply sell the address, if they bother to take it off the list, or start sending more spam since they know it is a 'live' address where someone reads spam. So one should never unsubscribe to something that you haven't subscribed to. Even the FTC recommends that people should not use the unsubscribe if they have not subscribed. If they have given permission, then of course, they should use the unsubscribe if they no longer want to receive the emailings. Some lists send a reminder once a month. You also need to remove any email addresses that you get back as no longer in use. If someone abandons an email address, it becomes available for someone else and that person has never heard of you.

In the spamcop FAQ, there is an entry about best practice for mailing lists that contains links to instructions on how to run a mailing list. It would probably be a good idea to check that out. You might even get some good ideas on other aspects of emailings. As I said, there are many people who like to get certain mailings and an email newsletter is welcome if it is done properly.

Miss Betsy

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Question: Does anyone have any advice as to the Data Protection act and how to make sure that this is done correctly? I'd like to make sure that I do this properly and so avoid having to repeat this in the future.

2. I will also redo my enquires form to include a mandatory field that requires users to choose whether they'd like to receive our mailings (simple yes or no field). In an automated email it would say that you have subscribed and should this not be the case then please reply and you will be removed.

I do have one more query for SpamCop... I will obviously need to send an email out to my mailing list and would hate to get into trouble for this. Is there anyway I can do this and feel confident that SpamCop understand that I am doing this to make sure I do not receive any further complaints?

25243[/snapback]

Elderon,

You haven't said where you are based. The legal position varies from country to country although within Europe there is a degree of similarity between jurisdictions.

Others have responded to your second point so I'll not restate their excellent advice. Now that you have already caused at least one person to report you, there is always the risk that a further Email could cause yet another complaint and that will, if the threshold is reached or you have any spam-trap addresses in your list cause you get re-listed.

I'd carefully word your Email so that it clearly isn't advertising or likely to be construed as advertising.

If you get listed again it should only for a brief period and the SpamCop BL should clear you off quite quickly.

One other thing, you should double check that your mail server IP address isn't currently listed. If it is then further complaints will just extend the period.

Andrew

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Many thanks for your response to my query.

I have taken onboard all of your replies and feel it right that I should:

<snip>

25243[/snapback]

...Please take this as the helpful advice it is intended to be: your reply here makes it appear that you have not read the section in the FAQ that deals with best practices for mailing lists. Please see FAQ Entry: Am I Running Mailing Lists Responsibly?.

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