The Kings of Junk Mail

It has happened to all of us. You open your inbox to be deluged by junk. Instead of reading relevant email from business correspondents, good friends and family, your email has been sold to the highest bidder to see if you need a new mortgage or a new bounce in your sex life. Thanks to SPAM filters and the like, this intrusion to our email has been throttled back to a dull roar. At least it is manageable and not overly annoying.

However, there is a new type of junk mail that is far more insidious, and frankly a lot more annoying. There appears to be a wave of emails from the legitimate companies that won’t allow you to unsubscribe to their spam. Sometimes, they tell you that you have to wait 5-7 days, but even after their grace period, they still keep on delivering their emails with weekly if not daily too-good-to-be-true offers.

In all instances, I signed up for these mailings. I just made the assumption that I would always have the option to unsubscribe if I did not find the content relevant. It seems that the following companies are ignoring their unsubscribe requests all together, and we all should be aware.

Target. I can’t remember when or where, but I do remember that I once purchased something from their web site. And then one day, I started getting weekly emails from Target. I unsubscribed and the opposite happened. Rather than weekly, Target decided to start sending to me daily. So every day, I would hit unsubscribe and nothing happened. The frequency has dropped dramatically since the holiday season has passed, but I just got another one the other day. In fact, Target was the tipping point prompting me to write this post.

Microsoft. Can you believe it? The king of the software companies, and one of the most valuable companies in the world ignore their Unsubscribe requests. It is indeed frustrating. If they are going to ignore their unsubscribe requests, what good would an email do? Or a complaint to their help desk? So all I can do is to call them out.

Blue Hornet. Most people have not heard of this company but Blue Hornet is the largest email blast company in the world. In fact, at one point, PC Pitstop used Blue Hornet to distribute our newsletter. That’s the reason that I am on their mailing list. Since they are handling so many email blasts, they had to ensure that we and all of their other customers were not spamming and of course respecting our unsubscribe requests. I find it rich that Blue Hornet’s unsubscribe link is broken.

Conclusion. Target, Microsoft, and Blue Hornet are just the ones that I can easily recall, but there are lots more offenders and almost all of them are household names. I love email and the internet, but this is a bad trend that the large companies ignore the voice of their customers. So I thought I would post this and encourage everyone to share their experiences below.

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45 thoughts on “The Kings of Junk Mail

  1. I have tried to unsubscribe from a web site called Jobs.com because i don’t need them…It tells me i can unsubscribe at the bottom of the page but the mail is there every day…To me that is fraud…People tell me i have no recourse & that it won’t stop…I am an older person who enjoys using my computer but something like that makes me want to shut it down & not use it again…Can you help me? PS I get multiple emails every day from them! Thank you..

  2. I find that Hotmail (plus) has got better at filtering spam. Only a few per day.
    And Hushmail is even better: no spam at all, which may be due to the fact that I do not use Hushmail for ordering or subscribing to anything.
    Have not had a problem with Microsoft. I subscribe to some forums there, but only get messages on topics I request.
    Yes I’ve had problems unsubscribing. Kijiji took forever.

  3. Write by snail mail their corporate headquarters and tell them you’re boycotting their store and encouraging others to do the same until this problem is FIXED.

    Report it to your legislators too.

    Write a letter to your editor and post it any where and every where on the net.

  4. When I find out where the spam is generated from (store, website, etc.) I never do business with them again. I’m on SBCGlobal.net/Yahoo! cr*p which would sell the gold out of my teeth if they could, so I put the word out (like now) of how bad they are. I used to get upwards of 300 Spams a day, but now, 50 is a BIG day. I just hit “Delete all” and never even look at them. Anything that passes the spam filter gets deleted without opening too.

    • You can’t always go by the company shown inthe spam. I look at the complete header to see where it is coming from. Almost all of the spam that appears to come from a company isn’t from that company, it’s from someone else. The first thing I look at is what’s after the @ in the email address. This is a dead giveaway in most of the cases.

  5. Hi,
    I woould like to add anorher one! “Loans”
    Difficult to delete as the Archive bit has been set.

    they will respond to an “Unscribe”

    To get rid of 15 or 20 at a time tat appear in your documents folder you open them and mark as Junk. One aT A TIME

  6. CatalogChoice.org has been almost always successfully negotiating with businesses to stop mailing. They started with catalogs by postal mail, but have expanded to include e-mail. If unsubscribe does not work, check them out.

  7. Wait wait wait… I made a comment on this thread and was automatically subscribed to notices of additional posts or comments. However, now that I no longer wish to continue receiving these notices, I find I can’t unsubscribe from an article about companies that don’t let you unsubscribe from their emails! WTF! Am I missing something? I click the link to MANAGE [my] subscriptions and get a page with a checkbox to notify me of followup comments, but nothing to NOT notify me… Oh… this is RICH! How freaking hypocritical…

  8. Ah SPAM. I can remember the good old days when this meant me and friends would rush a occupied chat room on AOL and talk about nothing but the potted meat product SPAM and things related to how much we liked it. And see how long before we were ejected or the room cleared.
    But now days even my own email address is used by some company spoofing the mail header and sending it with my name and email address attached. At first it was a problem with some far off small print in my mail client that allowed anonymous cell phones to send email from my name/mail client.
    Even deleted all my contacts from the data base so they cannot be retrieved easily. Have since given up hope on even trying very hard to save that email adress and instead use it for every single time I “have” to make an account just be able to post a single comment or read something. It gets an incredible amount of SPAM legitimate and otherwise.

  9. I recommend that people keep at least 5 different personal e-mail addresses.
    1) Private messages
    2) Retail/Commercial transactions
    3) Financial transactions
    4) Junk mail/professional associations
    5) Blogs/Comments
    This is no guarantee that you won’t get spammed. My retail address got comprimised a year ago when a commercial e-mail company was hacked and their client database was stolen.

  10. JCrew was the worst for me. I kept clicking on their ‘unsubscribe’ button, got sent to their unsubscribe page, clicked on that, and got acknowledged. But the mail kept coming. It didn’t stop until I sent a message to customer service, asking that I be unsubscribed.

  11. Just to clarify. I have not been classifying them as spam because technically they are not spam. They are legitimate companies that are ignoring unsubscribe requests.

    • @rob cheng:
      Uh, Rob,
      Spam: unsolicited or unwanted email.
      If a company, legitimate or otherwise, continues to email you after you have requested to unsubscribe, tnen that is spam.

  12. I use Gmail and IF I unsubscribe and IF they keep coming, I set up a filter. Skip in-box, go straight to TOILET. Every few weeks, I flush.

    These are people I never do business with again.

  13. I had a prob with spam form a AOL addy. so i returned his emails by using an auto mouse and setting it on return and send and set the auto mouse on 3 seconds. i would send up to 5 to 6 thousand emails a day. after about 2 weeks his emails stopped.

  14. I own my own domain name. Whenever I’m asked for an email address, I create a new one with my domain name. If I don’t like what’s going on with spam, I delete the email address and no more spam to that address. I find out who does sell my email address, too.

  15. my inbox has a little drop & drag garbage can named spam.When I pull mail to it, that mail co. disappears. now I'm fighting with something called ad serve that has gotten around my pop up disalow and my blocked sites!

  16. If you are using a decent email client, make sure these emails are set as "Not spam" then write a rule to automatically delete permanently whenever they hit your inbox. You will never see them.

  17. I sent a note to one website, requesting that I be unsubscribed. A response from them directed me to the "unsubscribe" button. It doesn't exist. I sent a reply to the email pointing out that they clearly depend on people getting fed up with the difficulty in unsubscribing so as to maintain a high number. I also labeled their process as an act of deception. Haven't heard from them since.

  18. I have an account with AOL … I simple route SPAM to a SPAM folder…. Most of all I do not click on links of anything that is in my spam folder. It works for me.. I used to work in Tech support for AOL and it never ceised to amaze me how many computer users would click on links from unknown senders and inherited mal ware and more junkmail than Mexico has beans…

  19. I NEVER received ANY junk mail until I made the mistake of signing up with K-Mart for their “store card” that you didn’t have to scan at the checkout, but just give the clerk your email address to get the discounts. Just a mere 2 days after signing up, I was inundated with all sorts of SPAM, and it has only gotten worse since.

    • @James: I never shop at K-Mart and all of a sudden I started getting their emails – and it was daily. Finally the unsubscribe did work and they stopped.

  20. While not an option for some, those with access to email aliases (typically as part of a domain hosting package) can make up addresses based on who they’re dealing with. Example: microsoft@ or amazon@. Have these deliver to an email address that CANNOT send email ever (so you don’t accidentally respond via that address and get a valid address set up for spamming). When you get spam, find out where it was sent to, delete the offending alias, and optionally stop doing business with that company. Sounds complex, but if you have access to email aliases, this helps to reduce spam to almost nothing.

  21. I go to my webmail and add the email address of the sender to a black list. Two minutes of managing my email online is better than a score of spamming emails. When the spam bounces, my email is taken off the list. It works, I assure you.

    • @My name: No you should not make such an assurance. I completely lost an e-post address by doing what you say, using a program that “bounced” unwanted mail. But some malicious spammer did something back, and they came so fast that my computer crashed, and my ISP had to STOP the account. Some 7000 e-mails were coming every hour! You could see them flowing in the inbox every minute – it literally could not cope. That was back in 2004. Having to ditch the e-mail caused me no end of problems, due to subscriptions that I could not renew. It even cost me a domain that I was using. So the best thing to do with spam is delete it, but DO NOT UNSUBSCRIBE or send a “bounce” to it!

      • @Christopher Briggs: I think it is best to unsubscribe only from trusted Store emails and to hit the spam button or delete the rest. Also get a Yahoo or Gmail email as they filter so much of their spam before you ever see it.

  22. I use my Gmail edress for this type of email. When this happens to me, I designate the email as spam. Thereafter, the email is designated as spam and goes into the spam folder.

  23. I have used Mailwasher for a number of years. The spam is still sent to me but Mailwasher earmarks it for delete automatically and it never reaches my inbox.

  24. return the email with large bold abusive words in to remove your email address, do it everytime you get one of the emails, someone has to read them, and eventually they will have to stop sending them.
    It has worked for me on several occasions, but yes I do believe a lot of these companies unsubscribe links are not a link at all, hence why they never work.

    • @Paul: The problem here Paul is that many spammers use a false reply to address, sometimes mine. I don’t want to get a stack of email from someone about spam I never sent. Best to ignore it and delete it. Gmail does well at separating spam from good stuff.

  25. I get about 50 to 100 bad emails per day. you all know about what. I usually sweep them per Microsoft but they keep coming back. Good job Microsoft. What we need is a good solution.

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