American Foundation for the Blind (AFB): Lying, unrepentant spammers

By | November 13, 2009

My wife and I have supported literally hundreds of charitable organizations over the years.  I donate on-line whenever possible, which means that many of these organizations have my email address.  The vast majority of them are smart and reputable enough not to send me bulk email I didn’t agree to receive, or at worst to unsubscribe me from their bulk mailings when I ask them to do so.

Alas, there are a few organizations whose bulk email practices are so disreputable, so shameful, so entirely unacceptable, that when all else fails, my only remaining recourse is to attempt to shame them into cleaning up their act, and to urge others not to support them financially until they’ve done so.

Today, I am forced to condemn the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to the charity spammers’ hall of shame.

AFB spammed me in December 2007 after I gave them my email address when donating on-line.  I sent them email, asked them to stop sending me bulk email, and informed them that if they did not do so, I would have no choice but to remove them from the list of organizations I support.  They did not respond.

They spammed me again in August 2008.  I complained again.  They did not respond.

They spammed me again later that month.  I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  They did not respond.

They spammed me again in January 2009.  I filed a complaint through SpamCop.  They did not respond.

They spammed me again in June 2009.  I followed the instructions in the spam for unsubscribing and again complained through SpamCop.  They did not respond.

They spammed me again today, with the same unsubscribe instructions (i.e., the instructions that I followed last time but obviously did not work) in their message.

After I publish this blog posting, I will be once again asking them to unsubscribe, this time in an email message sent to every single email address on their Web site’s “contact us” page which will include a link to my blog.  I will also once again be filing a complaint through SpamCop.  I’m not holding out much hope that any of this will actually work.

Either the people who run this organization are monumentally incompetent, or they think it’s completely OK to spam their donors, ignore unsubscribe requests, and publish unsubscribe instructions that don’t actually do anything.  Reputable organizations do not act this way.  Organizations which act this way cannot be relied upon to use wisely the funds entrusted to them by donors.  I therefore strongly urge people to find somewhere else to send their charity dollars.

UPDATE: I received the following response from AFB 41 minutes after I sent my email to everyone on their “contact us” page and told them I had outed them on my blog:

Be assured you will be removed today and will no longer receive emails from AFB. We recently discovered a glitch in our email list updating function that re-added unsubscribe and wrong addresses. I am pleased to report that we have fixed that error and now once a donor asks to be removed they will be removed forever.

My apologies that it took us a while to figure out the problem.

I leave it to my readers to decide for themselves whether this is an adequate response or “too little too late.”  Personally, I’m going to go with the latter.

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One thought on “American Foundation for the Blind (AFB): Lying, unrepentant spammers

  1. Anonymous

    FYI: Charity Navigator rates AFB as “Needs Improvement: Meets or nearly meets industry standards but underperforms most charities in its Cause.”

    National Federation of the Blind and The Chicago Lighthouse are listed on the above page as charities performing “the same or similar work” and rated as “Exceptional: Exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause.”


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