“Best Practices…” really works. Sorta.

A few months ago, I wrote an article called Best Practices to Keep your Inbox, Voicemail and Mailbox Free of Solicitation to help [don]line readers rid their mailboxes and email boxes of spam. This week, I received another confirmation that those practices work well and wanted to share it with you.

My company, era//404, recently was featured in HOW Magazine‘s “Behind the Design” column and, as a result, I signed up to receive a subscription of the magazine to get an extra copy. They had a “free issue” promotion running, so, I thought, what was the harm? I checked their subscription for for any notice of “selling” addresses to sponsors. None were on the forms.

I noticed in their privacy policy (still current as of 06/02/08) that there were a number of procedures to follow in order to have your email, address and phone information safe from their “trusted vendors” and submitted the email to have my information removed from their database of contacts they could sell BEFORE subscribing to their magzine.

Low and behold, a few weeks later, I receive the above post card from Shutterstock.com and booklet from Veer.com, with a very interesting recipient mailing address. It looks as though subscribing to FW Publications guarantees you to receive unsolicited email, regardless of a request to opt-out:

OPT OUT PROCEDURES
If you do not wish to receive promotional emails from us, please let us know by using the opt-out response device that can be found at the bottom of every email we deliver or by emailing us at privacy@fwpubs.com. To help us process your request, please include sufficient information for us to identify you in our records (your email address will suffice) and identify the F+W products or services (web site, magazine, book club, etc.) you have used and from whose mailing lists you wish to be removed. If you wish to be removed from all F+W emailing lists, please indicate so in your request. Please allow a reasonable time for us to process your request.
Note that, although you can opt not to receive promotional emails, F+W retains the right to send registered users of its web sites informational email messages about the user’s account oradministrative notices regarding the site, as permitted under the CAN-SPAM Act (15 U.S.C. §7701 et seq.). If you do not wish to receive mail or telephone calls from us, please let us know by sending your request to: F+W Publications, Inc., Attention: List Manager, 4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236 or by email to listdept@fwpubs.com. To help us process your request, please include sufficient information to allow us to identify you in our records (at a minimum, we will need your postal address to remove you from our mailing list, or your telephone number to remove you from our call list) and identify the F+W products or services (web site, magazine, book club, etc.) you have used and from whose mailing or call lists you wish to be removed. If you wish to be removed from all F+W contact lists, please indicate so in your request. Please allow a reasonable time for us to process your request. If you do not wish for us to share your information with our trusted partners, please let us know by sending your request to: F+W Publications, Inc., Attention: List Manager, 4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236 or by email to listdept@fwpubs.com. To help us process your request, please include sufficient information to allow us to identify you in our records (at a minimum, we will need your postal address to remove you from a mailing list, or your email to remove you from an email list) and identify the F+W products or services (web site, magazine, book club, etc.) you have used. Please allow a reasonable time for us to process your request.

As of today, I’ve reissued my request to stop receiving unsolicited mail and have them remove me from their sellable list of contacts by using their proper procedures for opting out of solicitations, however I feel quite certain that their “trusted partners” will act pretty similar to FW in ignoring it all together.

While the procedures I’d mentioned can do much for assisting in cutting down junk mail, some practices also help you to track down the original offender, such as the above instance of FW Publications selling my information regardless of my opt-out inquiry/request. The address block displays in OCR-visible Black-and-White that they’re guilty of this privacy infraction and, should legal action be necessary to have them arrest their poor practices, I’m sure it provides pretty rock-solid evidence of their wrong-doings. Sure, attorneys could argue that I use “HOW Magazine” as Address II for all my subscriptions, but I doubt a judge or magistrate would buy such a desperate excuse.

The outcome? As of right now, I’m still subscribed to their “trusted parties” mailing list and have yet to receive confirmation that I’ve been removed. I’m glad to see that they didn’t strip the Address II from my subscription form, however I’m leary that posts such as these will provoke such an underhanded action. And, finally, I feel pretty confident that this destroys any chances I have to be in another column in their publications, especially if the guilty party reads this. However, again, I ask myself: what harm can come from not allying myself with a company that doesn’t, as I and my own companies do, take customer privacy seriously?

06/17/2008
Today I received the below email. Looks like I finally got through to them but they curiously neglected to mention snail-mailed solicitations…

One Reply to ““Best Practices…” really works. Sorta.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *