E-mail address alone is not enough to be removed from a mailing list



  • A while ago, I kept receiving spam from an insurance company that I, to the best of my knowledge, had never actually been a customer of. So, I mailed them back and asked to be taken off their mailing list. In response, I got a message back stating that they couldn't remove me from their mailing list based on the data I had supplied (which consisted of my name and e-mail address). I told them the e-mail address should suffice, given that I didn't want to receive e-mails from them anymore, after which they replied with the following:

    Geachte heer,

    Op basis van alleen uw emailadres kunnen wij uw gegevens niet traceren en u daarmee ook niet verwijderen uit de mailinglijst.

    Met vriendelijke groet,
    KNMV Verzekeringen

    Or, translated for the benefit of the non-Dutch-speakers here:

    Dear sir,

    Using only your email address we cannot locate your data and so cannot remove you from the mailing list.

    Yours sincerely,
    KNMV Insurance



  • Amazing how one idiot helpdesk operator can make the entire organization look bad.

     

    Shouldn't there be an unsubscribe link?



  • You could ask them whether they think the government body responsible for enforcing the Data Protection Directive will find that acceptable.



  • Is the guy an idiot or just a bad liar?



  • @dhromed said:

    Amazing how one idiot helpdesk operator can make the entire organization look bad.

     

    Shouldn't there be an unsubscribe link?

    The absense of a link shows it isn't just the help desk operator, the entire organization IS bad.



  • @ASheridan said:

    Is the guy an idiot or just a bad liar?

    Probably a poor (and stupid) sap who has been told not to escalate each and every ticket. I used to work for the help desk of a large company here in the Netherlands (not that one); being right, making sense, and having the law on your side, is unfortunately not always enough to get trouble tickets picked up. You see, what did I know? I was just a little call center prick. I wasn't an expert so I didn't know how to think. I should learn to follow the processes: they aren't there for no reason, you know, and therefore are always correct and binding.



  • @KattMan said:

    The absense of a link
     

    How do you know this? Have you seen the original spam newsletter chock-full of updates?



  • Ask them to either escalate it to someone more knowledgeable or you'll be forced to report them to Spamklacht :)



  • @pnieuwkamp said:

    Ask them to either escalate it to someone more knowledgeable or you'll be forced to report them to Spamklacht :)

    I've reported companies to our equivalent (i assume) which has been successful!



  • @dhromed said:

    @KattMan said:

    The absense of a link
     

    How do you know this? Have you seen the original spam newsletter chock-full of updates?

    By assuming that Gurth is not the real WTF.  Otherwise that is what he would have clicked instead of talkin gto the rep.



  • A couple of years ago I called my ISP, who also provided my land-line, and told them I was changing to a new ISP and was dropping all of their services. To do this they wanted me to tell them the password to their web site for authentication. The thing is they wanted the original password that they assigned and I had long since forgotten. I tried to explain that I was calling from the same phone I wanted dropped and their was no way I could fake that, plus they could call me back and see that it was the same phone. But no, I had to log into their web site and send them an email from the ISP account, (which I just had forwarded to gmail anyway), requesting the services be dropped. To be fair I didn't have many problems with the company other than that.



  • @dhromed said:

    Shouldn't there be an unsubscribe link?

    Oh, there was in the different actual spam messages I got. I used it more than once, but the advertisements/newsletters/etc. kept coming — that's why I resorted to e-mailing them directly, with the message at the top of this thread as one of the results.

    What did work was when I got another advert from them a few weeks later, I mailed them to say I would file a complaint (at the above-mentioned spamklacht.nl), and I have not gotten any more spam from them since. TBH I'm kind of surprised that did work, given the way Dutch companies tend to be insensitive to those kinds of threats.



  • Maybe I'm thinking too hard, but isn't it possible that the email address you were receiving at actually wasn't on their mailing list and that you were only getting after it was forwarded from somewhere else, like "abuse@example.com" or "imgoingtospamgurthbyputtinghimoneverymailinglisticaneventhoughthisaddressissolongitviolates3696@freeemailhost.com"?

    If that was the case, and the only information you provided was your name and email address, then there would be no way that anyone could remove you from a mailing list that you weren't on.  At the risk of being helpful, a trip through the email headers may help resolve the mystery.

    But on the other hand, if the fine, helpful folks at KNMV just couldn't be bothered to look you up in their mailing list without your full name, long form birth certificate, two credit card numbers, phone number and home address, then yeah, they're the problem.

     



  • Reminds me of when Sallie Mae started calling me multiple times each day to try to get me to sign up for a student loan. For a while I just ignored the calls but after they didn't stop for a week I picked up and told them to stop calling this number. The lady informed me that just telling them to stop calling xxx-xxx-xxxx wasn't enough and I needed to provide my social security number to get them to stop calling. (This was definitely a sales call too-- I've never had a loan with these guys so it wasn't like it was a debt collection call or anything).



  • @bullrider718 said:

    Reminds me of when Sallie Mae started calling me multiple times each day to try to get me to sign up for a student loan. For a while I just ignored the calls but after they didn't stop for a week I picked up and told them to stop calling this number. The lady informed me that just telling them to stop calling xxx-xxx-xxxx wasn't enough and I needed to provide my social security number to get them to stop calling. (This was definitely a sales call too-- I've never had a loan with these guys so it wasn't like it was a debt collection call or anything).

    That'd probably be illegal if it weren't the government. If it was a cell phone, you might be able to file a complaint with the FCC.



  • Sallie Mae isn't the government, at least not anymore. (They started out as a government-sponsored enterprise, but privatized in the late 90s and now trade on the NASDAQ.)



  • @DCRoss said:

    Maybe I'm thinking too hard, but isn't it possible that the email address you were receiving at actually wasn't on their mailing list


    Good point, but I just checked, and the first (that is: lowest in the headers) RECEIVED header reads:
    [code]from m3.mailplus.nl (46.31.50.12) by q12.mailplus.nl (PowerMTA(TM) v3.5r15) id h0mc9a0vbic2 for <my address>; Thu, 5 Jan 2012 13:33:24 +0100 (envelope-from mailbot-bh-act=109867_si=60465_sub=62103@m3.mailplus.nl)[/code]
    so my conclusion is they did send it directly to me, and thus, I am (was) on their mailing list.



  • @Gurth said:

    mailplus
     

    Mailplus tends to take unsolicited email very seriously.

    If they find out KNMV acquired your email address without your consent, they enjoy roasting the asses of their clients.

    Just saying.

     



  • Whether or not they got my address without my permission, I can't be sure of — I suspect they got it because I bought a bicycle with insurance a few years ago, and I don't pay particularly much attention to company names on such things until I actually need to claim something :) Though the WTF here is not really related to that; it could well be the messages I got from them were not technically spam, the fact remains they claimed they couldn't remove me with only my e-mail address …



  • @bullrider718 said:

    Reminds me of when Sallie Mae started calling me multiple times each day to try to get me to sign up for a student loan. For a while I just ignored the calls but after they didn't stop for a week I picked up and told them to stop calling this number. The lady informed me that just telling them to stop calling xxx-xxx-xxxx wasn't enough and I needed to provide my social security number to get them to stop calling. (This was definitely a sales call too-- I've never had a loan with these guys so it wasn't like it was a debt collection call or anything).

    In Canada you can dial *57 after you hangup to have the telco trace the call. After 3-4 calls you can file a harassment complaint with the police and the trace has legal value. Unfortunately most telcos charge a fee each time and you cannot obtain the trace information unless you file a police report.



  • @Speakerphone Dude said:

    In Canada you can dial *57 after you hangup to have the telco trace the call. After 3-4 calls you can file a harassment complaint with the police and the trace has legal value. Unfortunately most telcos charge a fee each time and you cannot obtain the trace information unless you file a police report.

    I happen to know a lot about ISDN and POTS telephony and how that works here in the Netherlands. Over here, you can get a block on caller ID so other folks don't see your number when you call them. As a matter of fact, you can also get a block so that you can't see other people's numbers when they call you. Anyway, what comes next also applies to mobile and VoIP technologies AFAIK. When you call someone and you have a block so the other people don't see your number, your number information gets suppressed. You read that right: the information gets transmitted with or without the block, but it just gets hidden. One reason to do this would be so the folks behind 112 (the E.U. equivalent of 911 and 999) get to see your phone number, which is useful to them if you are calling them, and for whatever reason unable to speak.

    Now sometimes, it happens that devices or networks don't honor the block. This is very rare, except when sending a text, which if your telco and phone appliance support it, you can do from a land line. It usually occurs when folks are calling abroad; I'm no telephony nerd on a protocol level but I do know that there are a few different protocols for transmitting telephone call metadata. Anyway, it seems that if you have the right equipment you can see the telephone numbers of people without caller ID. I should be cautious here and note that although I do know for certain about networks, I don't know for certain about devices. It might be the switch's responsibility not to transmit the caller ID, and not the device's. After all, the switch needs to know both numbers to be able to connect the call.



  • @toon said:

    As a matter of fact, you can also get a block so that you can't see other people's numbers when they call you.

    Wait, what? The phone company offers a "service" which disables YOUR caller ID? That sounds rather useless...



  • @biblioteqa said:

    Sallie Mae isn't the government, at least not anymore. (They started out as a government-sponsored enterprise, but privatized in the late 90s and now trade on the NASDAQ.)

    You're right, an institution which was founded by the government and which provides primarily government-backed loans which benefit the government is absolutely not a part of the government, no way.



  • I don't know how we got from bad-newsletter-management to telephone-abuse, but my contribution to the latter is this: I recently began to receive numerous unsolicited advertisement calls on my unlisted fax number, that I currently don't use for faxing but rather only for international VoIP calls. But anyway, nobody "officially" knows that number, and therefore, any advertisement call on that number must be illegal. I installed an answering machine message that goes something like this: "Hello. The fact that you are calling this unlisted number probably indicates an illegal advertisement call. Please provide your name and the name and address of your employer after the beep, so I can sue you". I very rarely get calls on that number now...



  • @TheRider said:

    I don't know how we got from bad-newsletter-management to telephone-abuse, but my contribution to the latter is this: I recently began to receive numerous unsolicited advertisement calls on my unlisted fax number, that I currently don't use for faxing but rather only for international VoIP calls. But anyway, nobody "officially" knows that number, and therefore, any advertisement call on that number must be illegal. I installed an answering machine message that goes something like this: "Hello. The fact that you are calling this unlisted number probably indicates an illegal advertisement call. Please provide your name and the name and address of your employer after the beep, so I can sue you". I very rarely get calls on that number now...

    Wait.. you're doing VoIP over dialup on a fax line? That.. seems WTFy.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Wait.. you're doing VoIP over dialup on a fax line? That.. seems WTFy.
    Ahem, things are a bit more complicated than that. And I'm not sure if you really care. But just in case: A friend of mine, living in germany, has a phone company who provides internet and two landline numbers for him, one intended as a regular land line and listed in the phone directory, the other intended to be used for telefax, but that number is not currently listed. Both are implemented not as actual landlines, but as VoIP instead. My friend doesn't use his second number for anything so he gave it to me to use it where I live, in Switzerland. I have it therefore configured on my VoIP box. Now our "international" calls are completely free.

    But he is the only person to know about and call that number. That is why all other calls to that number must be illegal advertisement calls.

    I was puzzled, though, how any call center could know about and call that number. So, I asked one of those unsolicited callers. And the reply was that they didn't dial numbers from the phone directory, but that instead they had a dialling computer who dialled random numbers until someone would pick up the calls. That is how they get to call unlisted numbers. Wow! Now, if that isn't illegal, I don't know what is!

     



  • @TheRider said:

    Ahem, things are a bit more complicated than that.

    Ah, well the way you phrased it originally made it sound like you were doing VoIP over a POTS fax line (implicitly over dialup).



  • @AlanWms said:

    The thing is they wanted the original password that they assigned and I had long since forgotten.

    If you didn't record this information somewhere safe for a time when it was needed, that's your fault, not theirs.

    @Gurth said:

    the fact remains they claimed they couldn't remove me with only my e-mail address …

    Similar situation: we got letters through the door claiming we didn't have a TV licence. I rang the authorities and complained about the letter; the telephone droid confirmed they had no record of a licence at our address.

    I read out the licence's serial number and asked him for the address it was registered to, and he quoted back my address- the one they had no record of.

    When I pointed out this fact, he told me that they couldn't search against addresses. "Unfortunately computers don't work that way, Sir" was his explanation.

    I really wish I had set up telephone recording prior to that call.



  • @Gurth said:

    Whether or not they got my address without my permission, I can't be sure of — I suspect they got it because I bought a bicycle with insurance a few years ago, and I don't pay particularly much attention to company names on such things until I actually need to claim something :) Though the WTF here is not really related to that; it could well be the messages I got from them were not technically spam, the fact remains they claimed they couldn't remove me with only my e-mail address …

    Nonetheless, a good ESP takes failure to respect unsub requests pretty seriously - after all, it's their good reputation on the line. At the very least their contact within the organisation is going to be someone who can do something about it. At this point I'd be directing my complaint at Mailplus, telling them that their client is refusing to remove your address from their lists. I suspect you'll find the problem stops pretty quickly around then.



  • @TheRider said:

    And the reply was that they didn't dial numbers from the phone directory, but that instead they had a dialling computer who dialled random numbers until someone would pick up the calls. That is how they get to call unlisted numbers. Wow! Now, if that isn't illegal, I don't know what is!

    It isn't illegal - there are systems out there that just keep wardialing and once a voice connects the recipient is then offloaded to a sales droid to continue the sale.

    The practise is frowned upon in UK because often pickups exceed handovers, meaning many recipients hear silence then a disconnect click, unnerving older people that are mindful of sinister calls. Also the kit is supposed to feature blacklists so it's possible to filter "Do Not Call" numbers out of the sequence but in practise many spamming cunts marketing institutions forget and often hit TPS[1] numbers.

    News items concerning the effects upon recipients of this wardialing practise - sinister dead calls and TPS investigations - have discouraged other companies from attempting the same practise, but spoofing your caller ID or anonymising it makes it more appealing.

    [1] Telephone Preference Service. Register your number and you're [supposed to be] exempt from marketing calls.



  • @Cassidy said:

    News items concerning the effects upon recipients of this wardialing practise - sinister dead calls and TPS investigations - have discouraged other companies from attempting the same practise


    Wasn't some company hit with a fine of several hundred thousand pounds for repeated exceeded handovers a couple of weeks ago? That might help discourage it too.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @TheRider said:

    And the reply was that they didn't dial numbers from the phone directory, but that instead they had a dialling computer who dialled random numbers until someone would pick up the calls. That is how they get to call unlisted numbers. Wow! Now, if that isn't illegal, I don't know what is!

    It isn't illegal - there are systems out there that just keep wardialing and once a voice connects the recipient is then offloaded to a sales droid to continue the sale.

    The practise is frowned upon in UK because often pickups exceed handovers, meaning many recipients hear silence then a disconnect click, unnerving older people that are mindful of sinister calls. Also the kit is supposed to feature blacklists so it's possible to filter "Do Not Call" numbers out of the sequence but in practise many spamming cunts marketing institutions forget and often hit TPS[1] numbers.

    News items concerning the effects upon recipients of this wardialing practise - sinister dead calls and TPS investigations - have discouraged other companies from attempting the same practise, but spoofing your caller ID or anonymising it makes it more appealing.

    [1] Telephone Preference Service. Register your number and you're [supposed to be] exempt from marketing calls.

    In many countries there are strict laws about automated dialers. This is why in dialers products there is usually a feature to limit the number of dropped calls (when someone picks up the phone but no sales rep is available) as well as the number of time a same number can be called in a given period. Enterprise-grade automated dialers are extremely sophisticated, taking into consideration those parameters but also the average call duration for the sales reps on duty in that specific time period with the specific area codes in the numbers pool before deciding how fast to dial numbers. In some products you can even tune the time between calls for sales reps and this is surprisingly accurate.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    You're right, an institution which was founded by the government and which provides primarily government-backed loans which benefit the government is absolutely not a part of the government, no way.

    Um, Sallie Mae doesn't offer government-backed loans anymore, and the private loans they do offer benefit their private shareholders. You are behind the times.

     



  • @biblioteqa said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    You're right, an institution which was founded by the government and which provides primarily government-backed loans which benefit the government is absolutely not a part of the government, no way.

    Um, Sallie Mae doesn't offer government-backed loans anymore, and the private loans they do offer benefit their private shareholders. You are behind the times.

    I took his post to mean this was happening a couple of years ago; maybe it was more recent. I really don't care either way, though.



  • @pjt33 said:

    Wasn't some company hit with a fine of several hundred thousand pounds for repeated exceeded handovers a couple of weeks ago? That might help discourage it too.

    I think WatchDog did a programme on "nuisance callers", a few companies have been fined under harassment laws and some councillor has lobbied for something more to be done about it.

    I also recall that BT appeared to be utterly clueless when it came to tracking calls of this type and hopeless when pressed to do something about it.

    @Speakerphone Dude said:

    @Cassidy said:

    It isn't illegal...

    In many countries there are strict laws about automated dialers.

    Sorry, should have clarified - I got the impression that it wasn't illegal in UK, but laws may have changed since. IANAL.



  • @Cassidy said:

    I also recall that BT appeared to be utterly clueless when it came to tracking calls of this type and hopeless when pressed to do something about it.

    When you control your call routing you basically can put whatever you want in the "call display", and as soon as your call travels across a different telco there is basically no practical way to track down the actual source after people hang up. It's like remailers or bank transfers, you need to walk up the chain and in all likeliness one of the links won't (or can't) play ball. It's a different story if the call is between subscribers of the same telco - then it depends on the telco itself.

    There is something similar going on with SMS, only it's worse because there are so many parties involved other than the sender and the receiver, like the aggregators.


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