Category Archives: Uncategorized

When is it spam?

Recently I had an unpleasant experience with a quilting retailer. My personal email address ended up on a list that I did not join. I have never had any business dealings with this company and I suspect my address was harvested from a two-year-old trade show list of attendees.

When I asked politely for her to unsubscribe me because I hadn’t signed up for her list, she replied that I had to go to her website to unsubscribe myself, and then accused me first of lying about not signing up for her list and then of trying to use other peoples’ problems to increase my own web design business.

Obviously this person has some serious customer service issues, but let’s deal only with the email debacle.

Was it Spam?

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“Talk to the Hand” is not a customer service policy.


Not a friendly way to deal with your customers!

This morning I received a blog post notification email. If you have a WordPress blog or have ever followed someone who does, you know what I mean — you can subscribe to receive an email when an update is posted. It’s a great way to keep up with blogs that you might otherwise forget to check on a regular basis.

Only one problem… I had never even visited this blog, let alone signed up for email notifications.

Make that two problems: The blog owner didn’t provide an unsubscribe link in the email. While this isn’t required by the 2003 CAN-SPAM act that regulates all commercial emails in the US, it is modern standard practice, and people expect to be able to hit the “unsubscribe” button and delete the email.

So I replied to the email with a polite note: “Unsubscribe, please. I have never visited your blog and certainly never signed up for your email notifications.”

To which I received a fairly chilly reply that this person doesn’t subscribe individuals and I should go to the main website page to unsubscribe myself.

This is not my responsibility.

Even if were not required as a matter of law, as a matter of courtesy the site owner should apologize and immediately remove the name from the mailing list.

Oh, but then it got worse. I went to this website to find out that it was using an outdated version of WordPress, known for almost two months to be subject to a serious scripting vulnerability. I notified the site owner that the WordPress installation was unpatched and that the site was possibly being used to send out spam. I received a rather ill-tempered response saying the site was not compromised, and again telling me that I needed to go to it and unsubscribe.

Even if I were interested in this site’s products, they’ve lost me as a customer forever. In addition to which, I’ve now written about it (although without naming the company) and several thousand more people now know about this bad customer management practice.

Be courteous not only to your customers, but to those who might be customers as well. It’s only good business!

UPDATE: I have received one additional email from the company’s spokesperson. I signed my last email with my full name, website address, and “webhosting and web design services” to indicate that I knew what I was talking about. The final email accused me of going out to look for other peoples’ problems in order to build up my own business. Definitely some ill temper going on there. And definitely some customer service problems.

One sure-fire way to get people to open your newsletters!

I’m on quite a few newsletter lists. Like most people, I tend to sign up for them and then lose at least some interest in the company. If a newsletter comes in that happens to offer something I am looking for right now, I will probably click on it. Otherwise, I’ll skim the email and delete, which is most of the time.

So this one from American Science & Surplus really caught my eye this morning. (Highlighting added; click to enlarge photo.)

First 250 to click on this link are added to special customer list!

Did I click on that link? You bet I did! I mean, who doesn’t want 25,000 bonus frequent flyer miles if AS&S ever buys a surplus airline? 😀

If I were running this campaign, I would add anyone who clicked to the preferred customer list and just let them all believe that they were in the first 250. I’d have a special landing page that the link goes to, with my very best product deals on sale. Customers have to click on the email link to get the deal — anyone else pays regular price.

Now I have no immediate need for a boxed set of Cosmos DVDs or a robot hamster wheel, two of the items on the sale landing page. But clicking the link got me to their site, where I might find something else I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it on sale, and reminded me again that browsing AS&S is just plain fun. And who doesn’t need a chuckle now and then?

What a great marketing tool!

American Science and Surplus

How can you use information like this in your next customer newsletter?

Review: 30 Essential Tools for Web Designers

Tripwire Magazine posts a useful list of tools for web designers. Some, like the font makers, may not be everyday needs, but others, like templatr (template maker for blogs and web pages) and Browsercam (screenshot capture for numerous browsers and mobile devices — unfortunately, rather high-priced) could be very useful and deserve to be considered as part of your design toolbox.

Not mentioned in the article is the Web Developer Add-on for Firefox, a compact and extremely useful tool that replaces the last two sites mentioned: W3C Link Checker and Markup Validation Service.

All in all, this article is a good start. We’ll be adding to the research in the coming days.

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Introverts, Networking, and Social Media

Introverted man with paper bag over head
Yesterday the New York Times published a piece called Networking for the Shy Entrepreneur. It covered the basics: don’t try to sell, be yourself, think of it as “relationship-building” instead of “networking.” Nothing much new there, and nothing that really helps an introverted IT professional when he or she is dragged to the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Here’s another tip.

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