• United States

When you’re falsely accused of spamming

Jan 19, 20063 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalwareMessaging Apps

* What to do when you're in the business of sending legitimate mass e-mails?

The following came from someone on our mailing list with only light edits from me. While the type of spam problem she relates is well known, it’s worth discussing in this newsletter because the problem is so prevalent and damaging to organizations large and small. The user writes:

“We are a newsletter. Every month we send our subscribers their new passwords to access their copy of the issue on our Web site. The aim is for everyone to get their issues at the same time so that they can all act on the advice simultaneously.

“Our subscriber base topped 500 in mid-2005, which means business is good. But we ran into a major problem: I was sending the e-mails with the passwords in bulk from our ISP account and we were labeled as spammers. The fact that these were paid subscribers who wanted what we were sending them made no difference to the ISP staff members with whom we discussed this problem. When we protested, we were cut to only 100 e-mails per day.

“We then switched to another ISP. In a month, we hit their spam ceiling, too. They also use a mechanistic approach with no appeal: sending more than 500 messages per day means a customer is a spammer.

“Now we have turned e-mailing over to an outside company we use for customer service. They have been able – so far – to fulfill our subscriptions. But the people running the firm are worried that they will hit some sort of spam ceiling, as well. We are approaching 1,000 subscribers, which can put us in a new category of supposed evil-doers. We are looking into getting a dedicated server at this service provider which may enable us to go on in our business a while longer. I haven’t the room or the noise-tolerance to do that in my editorial office in New York City. However, working from two subscriber lists is time consuming for us and for our service provider. It costs us.

“We looked into using our Web site as an e-mail source for sending out subscribers’ passwords, but that required that I put up with all the spam that the public site draws. We also looked into using a well-known Web services company to send out the passwords, but they were unable to entice more than 40% of the subscriber base to accept e-mails from them.

“This is not a minor problem for a business like mine.”

I’d like to get your thoughts on the issues raised here and what you’ve done to circumvent them – please drop me a line at