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Hey, Guys, Chill Out

posted at 2:04 am
on Jun. 24, 2006

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Boris and Darren both took the time today to whack matchstick.ca (those phone givers I just blogged about) with the “unsavvy” stick. Boris went so far as to say he’d “reconsider doing ANY business with Nokia in the future” because of gross infractions that led to them slapping a “spammer” label on Matchstick’s business practices.  What horrid infraction Matchstick commit?  Offer them a free phone with no strings attached.  I say: Relax a bit, fellas!

Boris wrote: A company that does “buzz marketing”, Matchstick.ca, had three separate people contact me via email. All of those emails were sent en-masse—I consider it to be spam. And I happen to know at least two other people (David Crow, Roland Tanglao) that got the same email.

Darren wrote: [I received] four emails from Matchstick from four different staff members all asking the same thing. And two of those messages came after I clearly expressed my disinterest in their offer. Matchstick might want to invest in some CRM software, and learn how to use it. I think they’ve qualified themselves as spammers, don’t you?

Meanwhile, today I received about 400 actual spams, advertising vi-a-gra, d-a-ting services and m-o-rtgages with gibberish and ph-i-shing links.

Uh, guys, Matchstick isn’t spam.

Spam is unsolicited and irrelevant; you have blogs about Vancouver and about tech stuff and you ask people to get in touch with you with tips (Darren says, “If you want to get in touch with me, feel free.”)  Spam is bulk and automated and indiscriminate—emailing a few dozen appropriate people one by one, even if you double up by mistake, isn’t spam.  Spam uses tricks to get past junk filters—Matchstick didn’t put text in an image or use tricky CSS or stuff random words at the bottom.

Please save your “spammer” hatred for scum who really deserve it, not for those who are clearly making an effort to contact you as an individual.  And yes, I know that Matchstick.ca is hoping to get some blog love from this, but I have signed no contract, promised nothing, and there’ll be a box in the mail here shortly.  But still, spam isn’t a nice person in an office writing you a personalized email offering you something for free, unless your spam is orders of magnitude better than mine.

In addition, I don’t even understand some of Boris’ complaints.  Boris: Why is it shocking that Nokia doesn’t know what model phone you currently have? *I* don’t even know what model phone *I* currently have unless I’m looking at it.

And what “Word document” are you talking about? I did everything by phone.  Here’s how this happened for me.  One person from Matchstick wrote me.  I wrote back tersely, but immediately.  She called and asked a bunch of questions, some personal, some professional.  She said she’d talk to Nokia.  Weeks passed.  She got back in touch and said I qualified. 

Total number of emails from contact to phone: 4. Hardly excessive, is it? I often need more emails just to plan to see a movie with friends!

However, I do agree with Boris that Nokia would probably love to have a “citizen journalism” package, or cheaper rates overall, in the Canadian market.  Canada’s cell phone service is just too expensive.  It doesn’t benefit Nokia one whit to have Rogers (who we’ve already established is the devil) charge me through, up and around the wazoo for cell phone service. I can guarantee that I’d like my phone better and upgrade it more often if I could use more of its features frequently without fearing a cell phone bill that looks like a car payment.

The Matchstick girl (I should say woman but “girl” carries some lovely undertones) told me that they’re still seeking bloggers. If you’re a Roger’s customer and a blogger in Vancouver, and you’d like to have this new Nokia phone, let me know and I’ll pass your name along.  Darren and Boris, I promise not to email you about this. smile

Update: In comments on Darren’s post, Boris says that the third contact he received was from a photo blogger in Toronto, not a Matchstick employee. How is THAT spam—that’s not even commercial!  And how can you expect a third party to know what Matchstick has said to you?  Come on!

Update 2: Apparently, my use of a certain “V” word above was making this post the target of hordes and hordes of spammers.  Idiots.

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Comments

 

 

 

 

 

I'd argue about the definition of the word 'spam' (Tim Bray: "Any email that lands in my inbox that’s written in marketing-ese and I don’t know who sent it, that’s spam."), because I think the word's definition is more fluid than you suggest. For example, you characterize spam as 'irrelevent', while the Wikipedia entry doesn't. Popular usage even has 'spam' referring to non-email communications ('electronic billboards spamming messages out to the world').

I think my complaint was pretty clear--four different people contacted me a total of four times about the same thing, twice after I'd already declined their offer. That exceeds my tolerance. Clearly I have a tolerance of at least two, because I let the first two messages go without noting them publically. Obviously, being a marketer myself, I have an interest in observing the behaviour of other marketing companies.

How many parallel messages would be acceptable before you'd define them as a spammer?

 

Posted by Darren
  at 9:04 am on Jun. 24, 2006

 

 

 

So, your process was obviously better.

My contacts had NO info about me -- they were looking for "Toronto and Montreal bloggers"...which it would have taken 2 secs to figure out I am neither.

My point about the phone model is that it is already an outdated model, and of course I don't expect them to know what it is...it was just the icing on the cake.

I did not get emailed "one by one" or "personalized" -- I received mass emails, as far as I can tell. I made it clear to each person that I was not interested, and received further contact.

I also would have just let things be, but your experience was so obviously different than mine that I decided to post about it.

 

Posted by Boris Mann
  at 9:43 am on Jun. 24, 2006

 

 

 

Darren, I don't treat Wikipedia's definition as canon, but I also think that Tim Bray's definition is just plain wrong. Here's where I got "irrelevant" from, but we can go by Merriam-Webster if you'd prefer.

My point isn't that four parallel messages are acceptable -- they're not. Matchstick was rude (or at the least disorganized, horrors!), but that doesn't make them spammers.

Boris, Matchstick is looking for Vancouver bloggers now, but wasn't when they contacted you. And you really think the "phone model" where you, you know, talk to someone by phone is "outdated?" I can't even respond to that. But I can respond to your line, "[this] has made me reconsider doing ANY business with Nokia in the future" -- are you really standing by that?

 

Posted by Travis Smith
  at 10:36 am on Jun. 24, 2006

 

 

 

Er...I think Boris means that that particular model of phone--as in the Nokia B42ZX or whatever--is outdated. Or he could be talking about distant interpersonal communication via audio--he's an out-of-the-box thinker, you know.



I think our argument is largely lexigraphical, in that I'm using the term 'spam' and 'spammer' where you wouldn't.

 

Posted by Darren
  at 11:07 am on Jun. 24, 2006

 

 

 

Upon further review, I agree that calling them 'spammers' suggests what they're not. I've made the phrase more accurate, changing it from "I think they've qualified themselves as spammers, don't you?" to "I think their messages qualify as spam, don't you?"

 

Posted by Darren
  at 11:09 am on Jun. 24, 2006

 

 

 

Where did the photoblogger from Toronto get my email address?

The very first line was "sorry for the mass email" -- and it was sent to tons of people.

Yes, it's an extreme view. I don't want random people putting me on email lists, simple as that.

 

Posted by Boris Mann
  at 4:48 pm on Jun. 24, 2006

 

 

 

They got to you, didn't they? You're working for THEM now! THE SPAMMERS! How much did they pay you to sell out?! HOW MUCH?

wink

 

Posted by Zaphod
  at 8:32 am on Jun. 25, 2006

 

 

 

The 6682 is obsolete (introduced November 2005). It seems so typical of a big corporation that on the one hand they give out current model phones (like the N70 and N91) to the bloggers on the Nokia Blogger Relations Program yet on the other hand via Matchstick they give out obsolete phones like the 6682.

 

Posted by Roland Tanglao
  at 1:23 am on Jun. 29, 2006

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