Please don't untick this box if you don't not want marketing spam

26 January 2011

Remember receiving all that marketing crapola by email, despite swearing on the life of your first born that you never requested it in the first place? It was all in your mind, obviously. You must have dreamt your refusal of a weekly dose of irrelevant shit that you instantly mark as spam.

Except there's a good chance you didn't, because marketeers are very capable of sending emails to consumers who didn't request them. That's what seems to have happened in the case of Moonpig yesterday, when customers received this apologetic email:

Bitterwallet - Moonpig email

At least Moonpig were savvy enough to own up, assuming it was an accident. The moral of the story is that even if you explicitly request that no newsletters or occasional offers are sent, your email address can be added to a mailing list regardless.

Thanks to avid Bitterwallet reader Emma

TOPICS:   Scams

15 comments

  • Psytronic
    Lots of systems use a boolean field in a database to determine whether a signed up customer has opted for marketing emails or not, rather than having a seperate table for mailing lists. So it's feasible that something did go wrong, and that they weren't added to a "Mailing List" when they signed up.
  • Stephen
    Yup. As the above... The difference between and unsubscribe and a subscribe is merely the difference between a 1 and a 0. So someone at Moonpig has made a balls-up and basically not selected 'Just the subscribers' in their recent filter on their mailing list. Funny thing is - if you got the email and complain about it, you're likely to get some form of 'apology' offer because if enough people complain (even after their apology) they can get fined a very large amount.
  • br04dyz
    I got one of those and surmised that..... There was no accidental newsletter email/ promotional stuff from Moonpig and that this apology WAS the promotional stuff Moonpig were apologizing for.
  • SB
    I got the promo material first then the apology. The promo mailshot was something to do with valentines..
  • The B.
    Although having designed 4 direct mail marketing systems myself, the unsubs/dnm records should always be placed at the top of the list hierarchy as suppressions, which means moonpig's design is ultimately flawed (or someone did a fudge around and made a balls up).
  • lumoruk
    Got it too, oh well I moved on.
  • Wongiranger
    Got the spam, then the apology, and then ordered 10 quids worth from the site. Clearly the tactics works with some mugs!!
  • MS E.
    I very much doubt it was the email systems fault.
  • PokeHerPete
    Fuck off you fucking fuckers. Like others have mentioned, it could have been a easy mistake. The boolean flag for the email field can also be unclear. On some systems it can be 'true' that the user wants to receive emails, or 'true' that they have opted out of the emails. So a simple number in the the query someone wrote to get the emails to send the newsletter can results in the completely wrong dataset. How do magnets work?
  • klingelton
    i gotta agree with bob. Having designed several mailing systems also, i tend to use a separate table which contains my suppressions. then use a join everywhere where i reference the list thus negating the chance of average joe choosing a mailing of ever choosing anyone who's on a suppression list. Prevents those who don't want to be mailed from ever being mailed.
  • Alexis
    I notice he doesn't have the manners to apologise for his godawful adverts and the damage they have caused my eyes and ears.
  • Bill B.
    MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON PIIIG DOT COOOOOM!!!
  • Mike O.
    Very admirable that they owned up though. Never had any issues with this company :)
  • Andrew R.
    With RealBob on this - email marketing is my game and most worth-their-salt CRM systems will prevent you from mailing to people who are opted out or unsubscribed, even if you wanted to! You can of course re-opt-in subscribers but this is a conscious and illegal decision and would no doubt get your contract terminated to protect their backs. And Stephen, the ICO wouldn't take any action against them, perhaps a slap on the wrist if that for a one-off mailing + a retraction but it's hardly malicious or serial. Hats off to them for apologising, most would just bury their heads in the slurry.
  • Pip
    Moonpig is not an email marketing company, it's a personalised greeting cards company with a user login area for handling the e-commerce elements, etc. There's no point applying mailing-list logic to their CMS or database schema as they won't have been developed that way. As the first two comments have mentioned, each user record likely has a 'Receive Newsletter Y/N' field. Perhaps they recently worked on their mailer script and forgot to check that? Anyway, anyone anal enough to bitch about a single accidental marketing email deserves to get uselessly flustered and bent out of shape about it.

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