When SPAM Gets Ugly

Have you ever gotten an email from someone you didn’t know?

It’s called SPAM and I get a lot of it. I probably get more than most people because I run a business – which means I get a million calls and emails trying to sell me services or asking about “business proposals”. This is an expected result of advertising my name, address, phone number and email and I can’t be too mad about that.

Crossing the Line

I recently received a “business proposal” from someone who works for a website offering reviews of web hosting companies. The message was submitted through my website’s “Contact Me” form, so it’s clear this person didn’t have my email address.

I have never heard of the company and certainly never contacted them – so I simply deleted the email and never thought anything more about it.

Until today.

At 3:43 AM last night, I received an email from a different person at that same company. Apparently they’re unhappy that I didn’t respond to their “proposal”. (A quick tangent – they never really explained what the “proposal” was… see the email below.)

My first reaction was to delete the second email… but the more I thought about it, the more irritated I became.

I’m not really annoyed they sent me a second email… but this guy had the audacity to look up my domain’s WhoIs records to find my email address. Granted, I probably should have used private domain registration to avoid situations like this – but in any case, it takes some serious balls to look me up and call me out via my personal email account.

Before I explain any further, here is the complete email communication between me and this (nameless) company:

Hello!

I am interested in content advertising opportunities on your site–you have a great pool of write-ups in there. By the way, this is (name removed) and I work for (domain removed). Our company is one of the most reliable guides for webmasters and website development in the market. We offer in-depth reviews of various hosting providers and other web-related tutorials. Are you interested?

(Message sent via my website’s “Contact Me” form on 8/20/2010)


Hello,

I have contacted you several times now regarding a business proposal. I
would really appreciate it if you could reply this time.

Thanks,

(name removed)

(Message sent via email at 3:43 AM on 9/9/2010)

My Response

I probably could have taken the high road at this point… but I am really irritated at this guy’s tone. My response:

(name removed),

  1. As far as I can tell, you have never contacted me before. The only email I have ever received from anyone at (domain removed) is someone named (name removed) – who submitted the “Contact Me” form on my website. (For the record, her email was written nicely.)
  2. I am not, and never was, interested in your “proposal”. I don’t know you or (name removed), and I’m a busy guy running a small business, so it should have been obvious that I am not interested because I didn’t respond.
  3. Because I don’t know you and have never once contacted anyone at (domain removed) I don’t owe you a response. Period. The only reason that you’re receiving this response is because I’m really annoyed you took the time (at 3:43 AM…) to write me a stinky email.
  4. It would appear that you got my email address from looking up my domain’s WhoIs records – unless you bought a list of emails containing my information – which bothers me in either case because this is a personal email account.

Just to be clear, I want you to take my name and email off whatever list you have. I want you to stop contacting me.

It would also be nice if you would stop sending stinky emails to people you “want to do business with”. I don’t know if your boss would appreciate the tone you used in your email to me, but as a business owner I would fire any employee who spoke to my clients like that.

I copied the person who first contacted me, as well as the email listed on their WhoIs records.

And in case anyone is wondering, I am not listing the names of the company or employees who contacted me. They don’t deserve any publicity… let alone an inbound link to their website.

What do you think?

Am I out of line? Am I crazy? Do I just need a cup of coffee? I want to hear your thoughts.

Please share this post!

About 

Arthur Kay is a long-time nerd and JavaScript enthusiast. He lives in the Chicago suburbs and is active in the local web development community.

Arthur currently works for Sencha, Inc. as Senior Software Engineer. The thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed on this website are Arthur's alone and do not represent his employer.

3 comments for “When SPAM Gets Ugly

  1. September 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I like your response, good stuff! :)

    Cheers

    Mats

  2. September 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    You should’ve turned on the Hate and went to town.

    -Ry

  3. January 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I get e-mails like that all the time from my contact form.
    I don’t think they are even human. Not even the follow-up response.
    One in particular just won’t give up. It just repeats the same
    thing over and over every month. {{{{I hope you had a moment to
    look at the visibility analysis of (name removed) that I emailed
    you a few days a go, as part of my research on Orlando businesses.
    If you’d like to speak with one of our web marketing experts for a
    free phone consultation to help improve your online presence please
    let me know, or for more immediate assistance you can fill out a
    form on our website () by entering your business phone
    number.}}}}

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