Perkins School for the Blind: inveterate spammers

By | January 31, 2008

The Perkins School for the Blind used to be on the list of charitable organizations which my wife and I support. At some point I donated to them on-line through their Web site, providing my email address at that time so that they could send a receipt via email.

They subsequently used that address to spam me on May 30, 2007. I sent them a complaint in response about the spam on May 31, telling them that I gave them my email address so they could send me a receipt, not so that they could add me to bulk email lists, and that if they ever spammed me again I’d report them to the appropriate service providers and permanently remove them from the list of organizations which we support.

They did not respond to my complaint, and they spammed me again on June 14, so I sent them another complaint, informing them that I had, as promised, complained to their service providers and permanently removed them from our charitable giving list.

That message finally got a response on the same day which read in part as follows:

Please accept our sincerest apologies. While we are new to email messaging, we take spamming very seriously and in no way is it our intention to send unwanted emails to any of our constituents. Unfortunately, there was a communication breakdown and your request to be removed from our email list did not make it to the appropriate people. I assure you that you have been removed from our email list permanently. We are also working on a policy for the school to ensure that this does not happen again.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but unfortunately, they spammed me again today, January 31, 2008. Not only that, but they included the recipient list of the spam in the “To:” header of the email, thereby violating the privacy of the 986 Perkins supporters on the recipient list of that spam, and perhaps of even more people than that if they sent out multiple such messages.

Needless to say, I sent them a rather strongly worded complaint, indicating that I had reported the spam to their service providers and ending with this:

Please give me one good reason why I shouldn’t send email to the 985 other people whose addresses you exposed suggesting to them that they complain to you and to your service providers if they are as upset as I am about your spamming and your violation of their privacy (well, actually, there are only 979 other people for me to write to, since I’ve CC’d this message to your coworkers at Perkins who appeared on the distribution list).

Shame on you.

I got back an apology a few hours later from the individual at Perkins who had sent out the email, which read in part, “I realized that I made a huge error when I put everyone’s name in the `to’ field… there is noone to blame but myself and it shouldn’t reflect on the school.” Later in the day, another individual at Perkins actually called my house to apologize, but I wasn’t home to take the call and I frankly have no interest in speaking with them about this and have no intention of calling them back.

I don’t think they’re bad people. I don’t think they’re intentionally trying to send spam to people who don’t want to receive it. However, none of that changes the fact that people who can’t handle the mechanics of only sending bulk email to people who have asked to receive it, shouldn’t be sending bulk email, period.

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