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29 Jul 2006
Here are some excerpts from an all too typical exchange I recently had with an e-mail service bureau (usually called an ESP for Email Service Provider.) It started when I sent them a boilerplate spam complaint, one of about a thousand a day I send for spam that either hits my spamtraps or gets caught in the spam filters.
The referred message was sent via our e-CRM system and all the addressees which receive e-mail from us have accepted to receive such e-mails according to our policies.
Interesting theory, but sadly at variance with the facts. So I replied, a bit testily:
Do tell. Please document when and where I asked you to send junk to the address firstname.lastname@example.org, an address that only I read. Be sure to explain why I signed up for spam in Spanish, a language I do not speak.
Well, that's different. They said:
Let me explain: I've checked our records and, for this particular e-mail, it was one of our customers that sent it. The customer uploaded an address database to our system and sent the messages (we offer such service). It seems that your e-mail was included in such database, but we cannot find the origin of the address, as it is not one of our databases.
I can assure you that, for our databases, every user has accepted our e-mailing policies.
I wasn't impressed:
Ah, now you've changed from "we don't send spam" to "we only send spam for our customers." Any other little details you might have neglected to mention?
What do you know, it's lame ESP excuse #2. (#1 is you must have signed up and forgotten.)
This is the original sender of the message. As I said, they just use our system, we don't have control over their databases neither the content of their messages
And it went downhill from there.
Oh, please. The "we have no control over our customers" excuse stopped working in about 1999. If you sell access to your network, you're responsible for the traffic. I'll advise the usual blacklists.
I don't think this guy considers himself to be a spammer, but by any normal definition, he is, since he's sending bulk mail to people who haven't asked for it. (It's pretty safe to assume that if his list has our address scraped off a web site, it has lots of others, too.)
This particular ESP is in Brazil, but the attitude is just the same as ESPs in the US and all over the world. Wherever the buck stops, it's not with them. The reason this is a problem is that so long as allegedly legitimate mailers act like spammers, they and their customers will oppose meaningful sanctions against spammers because they know the sanctions would catch them, too.
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