Long-time readers of my blog may remember my multiple postings about Honda Village in Newton, Massachusetts. You can read the whole series of Honda Village postings here.
Archive for the ‘Junk mail’ Category
I recently posted about MADD’s failure, for over a year, to stop sending me junk mail.
I remain somewhat appalled by what happened, but I think it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Since I sent them the complaint which I posted, they have been quite responsive, culminating with this email which I received yesterday from a senior employee of the organization:
We have gotten to the bottom of what happened, so I wanted to update you.
We have two different databases – one ([elided]) that handles our online constituents and another ([elided]) that handles our direct mail and telemarketing supporters. We’ve only recently started to send mail to those who have signed up online and thus we’ve been pulling those names by hand.
What we discovered is that when our vendor ran the [elided] names against our do-not-mail file, they were only eliminating exact matches. Thus, if [elided]’s address had “Street” and [elided]’s address had “St.”, the two addresses wouldn’t be considered the same.
To prevent what happened to you from happening to others, we’ve taken a few steps:
- We are running all addresses through address standardization before checking the do-not-mail file; this should allow addresses to match regardless of how they are stored in the database.
- We are counting matches by household, not by name. Thus, if a husband asked not to receive any mailings, we would not send to the wife (or vice versa). This also prevents us from having problems when a person’s name is (for example) Bob in one database or Robert in the other
- We are working to sync our databases together automatically, so there isn’t room for human error (or, rather, there isn’t as much room for it).
Again, I’m sorry you had to receive so many extra mailings so that we could get our act together, but I do appreciate you helping us prevent it from happening to others.
While it’s unacceptable that it took them so long to solve this problem, it’s important to recognize that they’ve clearly now got their act together. This is definitely a case of “better late than never.” Thank you, MADD, for doing the right thing.
April 20, 2011
Kimberly Earle, CEO
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Fax: (972) 869-2206
To whom it may concern:
My efforts to get MADD to stop sending me junk mail commenced almost exactly a year ago, on April 21, 2010, with a message sent to you through your web site. I received a response the same day, claiming that it would take “two to three months” for the mailings to stop.
I periodically post about organizations which can’t handle one of these two simple requests: (1) don’t spam me; (2) don’t send me junk mail. If an organization is incapable of implementing effective policies and procedures to accommodate these two straightforward requests from donors, they are probably also incapable of implementing effective, efficient policies and procedures for doing the work for which donors are sending them money.
I’ve had run-ins of varying magnitude about this with numerous organizations over the years. The ones that I post about here are the worst of the worst. They have either overtly refused to accommodate my requests, or claimed repeatedly, but falsely, that they had done so.
Today, I am forced to add Yad Sarah to this disreputable bunch. I am sorry to do this, because the work Yad Sarah claims to do is important, and because they appear to be respected by other organizations which I respect and tend to trust. However, after my experience with them, I must wonder how efficiently and effectively they use the money entrusted to them by donors to perform their mission.
This came from Herb Chambers Honda a couple of days ago:
This one is a tiny, tiny bit less deceptive than the Honda Village mailings: notice how it has the word “Auto” hidden in the return address!
The mailing inside was also deceptive. No, actually, it was an outright lie. It’s one of those “trade in your vehicle now!” hard sells, which informs me, “Our Records Indicate Your 2007 Honda Odyssey Has A Trade Value Between: $16,500 and $18,450″. Funny how the Kelly Blue Book says its value is between $13,200 and $15,550. Big difference!
We were occasionally using Herb Chambers Honda’s service department, but now I guess we’ll have to find yet another dealership when we need genuine Honda service for whatever reason.
Are there any car dealerships that don’t engage in slimy sales practices? Discuss amongst yourselves.
Dear Mr. [elided],
I enjoyed your recent letter about the direct and indirect ways in which CJP has positively affected your life. Many in the Jewish community don’t realize how pervasive and beneficial CJP’s influence is, and I think it is extremely valuable to occasionally remind people. Your letter was an especially persuasive and effective reminder.
Having said that, I have a minor complaint I would like to share with you. I expect the merchants and organizations which I support to respect people’s privacy. There is one particular marketing / PR strategy which demonstrates an overt lack of respect privacy, and I was very sorry to see that your letter employed it.
I am speaking of the tactic of sending promotional materials in unmarked envelopes, sometimes even with handwritten rather than printed addresses, in an effort to fool their recipients into thinking that they contain personal rather than promotional correspondence.
There is only one reason for an official letter from the CJP, on CJP letterhead, to be sent in an envelope without any CJP markings on it, and that is to circumvent the fact that some recipients will discard a marked envelope unopened. That is their right, and intentionally circumventing it is akin to a traveling salesman’s foot in the door. Frankly, it’s just plain rude.
I hope that the CJP will reconsider the use of this technique in the future.
[You can read the whole series of Honda Village postings here.]
I received in the mail today a letter from E. Peter Mullane, the lawyer whom Village Automotive Group has apparently retained to respond to my Chapter 93a letter about their deceptive advertising practices.
It is worth noting that E. Peter Mullane’s chief claim to fame is that he is one of the lawyers who defended John J. Connolly Jr., the former FBI agent who was convicted in federal court of racketeering, obstruction of justice, murder and conspiracy to commit murder and will be spending the rest of his life in prison. Nice!
I am not going to publish Mullane’s letter here, because there are all kinds of legal issues with that, and… well… Mullane is a lawyer, y’know? I will, however, publish the response I just sent him, from which you can get a pretty good idea of the claims he made in his letter. Enjoy!
Honda Village is still at it; let’s see if the threat of a class-action lawsuit will put a stop to it!Thursday, January 21st, 2010
[You can read the whole series of Honda Village postings here.]
January 22, 2010
Village Automotive Group
75 North Beacon Street
Allston, MA 02134-1912
Dear Mr. Ciccolo,
Once again, I find myself sending you a M.G.L. Chapter 93a letter because of Honda Village’s deceptive trade practices.
In June 2009, Honda Village started sending me promotional materials in envelopes that look like this:
[image elided; see my previous blog posting]
I am not going to waste my time explaining why this is clearly intended to deceive the recipient about the source, importance, and content of these mailings. I know this is so; you know this is so; the methods of deception and intent to deceive are obvious. I’m quite certain that a judge will agree.
I received a number of these mailings before I finally decided to ask you to stop sending them. On October 15, I sent a message through the contact form on your Web site which read as follows:
(Do not add my email address to any bulk email lists as a result of this submission. I am providing you with my email address only so that you can respond to this request. NO OTHER USE OF MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS AUTHORIZED.)
(Do not add my postal mailing address to any direct-marketing lists as a result of this submission. I am providing you with my postal address only so that you can remove me from your direct-marketing list as described below. NO OTHER USE OF MY POSTAL ADDRESS IS AUTHORIZED.)
For months now, you have been sending me junk mail in envelopes that you have intentionally designed to deceive recipients. You’ve made them look like some sort of official certified or registered mail, and you’ve intentionally left your company name and return address off of the envelopes. These envelopes are clearly designed to get people to open them, when they would just throw them in the trash if it was obvious they were from you.
This kind of deceptive direct-mail advertising is exceedingly slimy. It is distressing to me that I purchased a vehicle from a company that employs such slimy tactics. You have proven to me, unfortunately not for the first time, that my initial impression, that you were different from all the other slimy car dealers out there, was wrong.
Whatever mailing list I am on to be sent these slimy mailings — please get me off of it. Right now. And leave me off of it. Permanently.
Honda Village did not have the courtesy to reply. Furthermore, since I sent the message quoted above, I have received at least two more of these offensive mailings, the most recent one today.
If you had stopped sending these when I asked you to stop, I would have left it at that. But since you didn’t, I have decided to teach you a lesson not only about not sending junk mail to people who have asked you to stop, but also about engaging in deceptive trade practices.
I first asked Frank Shaw at Vanguard Realty in Brighton, MA to stop sending me junk mail in January 2008, through a contact form on his Web site. He ignored me.
More junk mail arrived in late March, so I asked him again, this time using both the form and a phone call.
He sent me back a snarky response. I, in term, sent him an equally snarky response. He responded a second time, and this time he was somewhat less snarky and more conciliatory.
Conciliatory though he may have been, he didn’t actually do what I asked. Since then, I have received at least five pieces of junk mail from him, and one from another Realtor in his office.
It seems that refrigerator magnets are Frank’s gimmick, since several of the junk mailings have contained them — the Patriots schedule, the Red Sox schedule, a 2010 calendar, etc. I have no use for any of these, and they are far worse for the environment than simple paper junk mail.
Vanguard Realty is right in my neighborhood. When my wife and I decide to sell our house, using a Realtor near us would be quite convenient both to us and to potential buyers. But we’re not going to use one who ignores the most basic of requests (“stop sending us junk mail!”) from potential customers, and in the process damages the environment.
One cannot help but wonder why Frank doesn’t seem to understand that alienating potential customers is bad for business.
I just sent the following email message to Mark G. Ackermann, the President and CEO of Lighthouse International:
I am taking the unusual step of writing to you because my efforts to get this issue resolved “through channels” for over two years have failed.
In a nutshell, I have asked Lighthouse International to remove me from your postal mailing list six times since October 2007. Since my first request, you have sent me eight mailings, the most recent received yesterday, November 25.