Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Experian: The Spammer's Friend

Many of you will know Experian as one of the three credit scoring bureaus. This mega-corporation compiles vast amounts of data on every human being it can, all without their permission, and sells this info along with a "score" to show that human's financial worthiness.

But Experian also runs one of the largest email marketing firms, Cheetahmail, which they bought more than 10 years ago!

Here's a quote from their press release:
The acquisition is designed to help Experian, Costa Mesa, CA, bolster its direct marketing services, particularly in aiding clients in sending more highly targeted e-mails to their opt-in subscriber lists. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sweet! Who doesn't love highly targeted emails? Notice above that they said "opt-in" as part of the press release wording.

They have a Corporate Privacy Policy which states that clients are not to send unsolicited spam:
Corporate email client anti-spam policy: Clients of Experian CheetahMail have agreed to not send unsolicited commercial email through our systems. Any client who violates this agreement is subject to privacy review, services termination and potential legal action.
So far, so good, except that I have been receiving spam from one of their clients as detailed in this blog post. I recently sent them an email asking them to look into their spamming client, but it was returned 3 days later as "Undelivered Mail Returned To Sender".

Their email provider, Cheetahmail, does provide a way to report abuse, and I sent them this email.

But now the abuse email abuse@cheetahmail.com bounces back as undeliverable! It's not hard to find others leveling criticism at their operation.

Notice their bounce mail indicates that I should contact the postmaster, but also notice there's no contact info provided. That is my next project: to find someone to report the problem with the abuse mechanism so I can stop being spammed by one of their clients. The "details.txt" attachment from the bounced mail also looked a little wonky. "delivery temporarily suspended" sounds fishy to me. I wonder if I tried again...

I will update this article if/when I get their attention.So far running a Google query on "Cheetahmail Postmaster Address" and I found a couple people saying that Cheetahmail ignores reports to the abuse or postmaster addresses. I'm surprised anyone even knows their postmaster address.

UPDATE 7/20/2015: They contacted me a few days ago and told me that they had me taken of their spammy client's mailing list. Nice. It only took thousands of keystrokes to make that happen. One of my readers commented in the other post that they had the same problem with emails to their abuse department bouncing. Oops.

It just seems really fishy that one of the world's largest email service providers can't properly configure their account that receives notices of abuse about their clients, while their their spammy clients seem to work fine. It's one thing if a hair salon doesn't seem very savvy with email, but this is an email service provider.

It's almost like some of these companies are saying "Oops, we did what was financially in our best interest, even though it was ethically questionable. Oops, we did it again. Oops, we did it again. Oops, our stock price went up." It just seems fishy.

UPDATE 2/16/2016: I sent a test email to the Cheetahmail abuse address as a followup to this article, and got a quick response back. It looks like they are being responsive, which is a good thing for everyone. Most of the time it doesn't seem like I gain any ground in the fight against spam, so this is a happy moment.

3 comments:

  1. Just saw this post... pretty frustrating, I don't get how this can be possible by such a big company.

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    Replies
    1. A public corporation has to keep growing, just like a cancer cell. That means they have to push the envelope, and this is probably a good example.

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  2. Need to do a lot of work to get-off their mailing list. Really frustrating. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story.

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