Customer Club sends more spam to former Borders customers

Back in December, we stumbled upon a company called Customer Club - we'd begun receiving newsletters from them on behalf of Borders, shortly before the bookstore went into administration. Customer Club then requested those on the mailing list join them directly - it seemed that the parent company, The Marketing Innovation Group, had acquired Borders' mailing list and were using it for their own purposes.

Their activity was previously ambiguous enough to warrant only suspicion - they were emailing addresses on the mailing lists about activities and subscriptions connected to Borders - albeit very loosely. Now it seems fair to say the Marketing Innovation Group are flat-out abusing the mailing lists with spam. Avid Bitterwallet reader Richard received a newsletter from The Customer Club yesterday, sent on behalf of Habitat - a newsletter he never requested (it can't even be explained away as a relevant third party interest), and one sent to the email address he'd specified for his Borders newsletter:

Bitterwallet - Customer Club Habitat email

We called The Marketing Innovation Group, and the phone went dead. We went to their website, and that wasn't working either. Nor was the consumer-facing website for The Customer Club. We'll keep trying to get in touch with them - they're probably aware that buying up personal data for a use not relevant to its initial collection, is the sort of thing the ICO isn't too thrilled to see.


  • Building S.
    [...] Customer Club sends more spam to former Borders customers … [...]
  • Randomhero
    Both websites are working fine
  • andyofyarm
  • Shopdis F.
    Beat the bastards to a pulp
  • JWutang "If I unsubscribe from Customer Club, will anyone else have my details? Its possible that your details may have been passed to companies offering genuine deals in the areas you have shown an interest in. To remove yourself, please click on unsubscribe within any emails you no longer wish to receive." Brilliant!
  • The B.
    "the ICO isn’t too thrilled to see." Yeah, everyone's terrifed of the ICO, one of the most ineffective government departments seemingly populated by cast offs from others that know bugger all about anything. Remember Tery Fuckwit in Viz, that's the population of the ICO. 1 successful prosecution in what 7 years? WOW.
  • David W.
    Hi I am an employee of Customer Club and I want to try to respond to some of what is written here in an effort to shift perceptions. First of all, our telephone number is 01565 653000 and it is always working. As is our website which is and anyone who wants to make contact with us for any reason can do. Currently the Customer Club database has over 2 million opted in email addresses. As Paul’s post says, we secure our data most often from companies in administration and we permission pass the data and those people who are happy to join Customer Club do so. The whole point of Customer Club is to build a database of UK consumers who are happy to receive emails from retailers offering them price reductions and offers etc. This year to date Nov 2010, Marketing Innovation Group has sent over 4 Million emails to this database on behalf of a number of retailers and we have a 96% acceptance rate. Customer Club is simply a vehicle for people to receive offers and for retailers to send offers as a Customer Club partner. It isn’t by any stretch of the imagination an ogre of a business. Spam is unwanted communication. Customer Club is permission passed and opted in to receive emails. Bloggers and commentators provide a great service. Not everyone can be wrong and if a million say a company is doing something wrong then who could argue. But here in this case Customer Club has a 96% acceptance rate with 4 million emails and one or two very stinging comments here on Bitter Wallet? Please reconsider what you have written because it is very strong. Kind regards David Williams
  • Michaela R.
    David's reply above seems pretty genuine, although there's no comment about whether clicking "unsubscribe" from a Customer Club email actually unsubscribes you. How about acomment fromthe original poster, Paul Smith, about whether he agrees? (And no, I don't work for Customer Club or no anyone who does - I just like to see the blogosphere full of balanced, rational debate, rather than unjustified rants)
  • MarkG
    Opted in? That's bollocks, I opted in to Waterstones, but ConsumerClub send me offers about hotels and road-chef discounts.. Wankers.
  • David W.
    In response to MarkG (11th Jan) and Michaela (Nov 17th). Customer Club has never sent an email on behalf of Waterstones or promoting hotels or Road Chef discounts. Michaela, any opt out/unsubscribe response is globally opted out of the database and will not be used again immaterial of the retail partner moving forward. Kind regards David Williams
  • Jen
    Re: MarkG. You're talking about Consumer Club - an online rebate shopping portal set up by the people behind This article is about Customer Club. It's not clear what Customer Club actually do from their website, someone there needs to decide what the company actually does then put it on the Customer Club website, at the moment it sounds like a quarter baked idea that's failing. David talks about the email addresses being opted in but there's two ways of doing that. The first is to email people who request specific offers and the second is to email everyone who hasn't said no to them. The first is an ethical customer friendly method, while the second is just about legal and only suceeds in annoying people. I suspect the latter approach was used here, hence the inclusion of Customer Club on Bitter Wallet.
  • David W.
    Jen, thank you for clarifying the Consumer Club, Customer Club confusion. Re your point about emailing people that "haven't said no to them." Everyone in Customer Club has been permission passed in to receive emails from us. Hence the 96% delivery rate. And as stated, opt out is global so the individual will not receive emails from us or any business we trade with. Kind regards David Williams
  • Phil
    David, they haven't. I've just received an email from Customer Club asking me to tell them more about myself. Considering I haven't even heard of them before, and certainly don't engage with this type of pathetic marketing, I'd say that counts as unsolicited contact...even more so since I haven't given out that address for several years. I notice your statement doesn't mention WHO permission passed (whatever that means) these emails. I can only conclude you mean permission passed by YOU. I once had the misfortune to spend a few hours working in telemarketing. Your statement reminds me of the script we had to read out to anyone angry about being selected from photocopied pages of the phonebook. I left in disgust, why don't you?
  • Gareth
    To echo what Phil said, I've received two emails now from Customer Club, one asking me for more info about myself, the latter offering me discount wine. I had no idea who they were until I looked up this thread to see if anyone else had been spammed by them. Also, I have never ordered wine over the internet, so even if they've got my details from elsewhere else and are targeting me for specific items, they're not doing a very good job of it. Anything I order online or sign up to I make very certain to check the box saying 'I do not want to be contacted by or carefully selected partners'. Don't try and dress this up as anything other than unsolicited contact.
  • Lucy
    As Gareth says "they’re not doing a very good job of it." Do they think they have a complied a mailing list of upper class snobs? If not why send out emails for Habitat, Denby and Virgin Wines who are all outside of the average working person's price range? Someone needs to hit the manager of Customer Club over the head with a cricket bat and then he or she may wake up and realise that most people don't live the millionaire's life that they enjoy. For their information the average person buys from places like Tescos, Argos, Amazon, Ryman and Quality Save. Sending out discounts for those stores would be very popular, sending out emails with offers for Habitat, Denby and Virgin Wines pisses off the average person. If they just want to target rich snobs why even send out an email? As all iPhone owners are rich snobs who like to show off and their target market seems to be rich snobs, they just need an iPhone app and their target market is covered without all the emailing. I think Jen hit the nail on the head in her earlier post. At some point there must be have been some small print on an email or website saying we will opt you in to Customer Club unless you tell us otherwise and then jump through a hoop of fire and if you missed it then you got opted in. Oh and if you work for Customer Club and are reading this then please do hit your boss over the head with a cricket bat. He/she is obviously in La La land and you'll be doing them a huge favour.
  • Susan
    I received an email out of the blue from Customer Club yesterday. The email claimed to have been sent on the instructions of the Administrators for Phoenix Holidays who have recently gone into administration. Customer Club had no permission from me to email me - I did not know of their existence until I received their email. I have unsubscribed from their mailing list but I have no idea if this will be effective. I also object to being sent unsolicited emails from a company I do not deal with, have no wish to deal with and know nothing about.
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