What SPAM is and isn’t

On the menu bar across the top of every page is a link to the ‘Scumbags’ page, which is updated many times a year.

Part of the reason for this page is to highlight how the rules for Direct Marketing are a total waste of time. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) have a ‘code of conduct’ which they claim makes what they do different to SPAM. Their code states that they will not just send emails to any address they can get hold of, but will instead only send marketing materials to those who have ‘expressed an interest.’

Now, they will argue that visiting their website is expressing an interest, or that clicking on an advert is, or having your eyes open when they walk across in front of you – all of those, I admit, can be argued for.

The code also requires any email sent to include an ‘unsubscribe’ link – giving the illusion that we, the recipients, have some say in whether we are on their lists.

Today, I got an email which appears to be everything the DMA approves of.  Only it isn’t.

It’s from a company that provides fuel cards to companies.  You give the card to each of your drivers, and they use it to fill their vehicle with fuel, or pay toll charges – and you get a bill at the end of the month.
I know about these systems, and they’re a great idea for the right business: when I kept the accounts for a haulage firm, the card was a real boon.

They want to give me a quote for providing fuel cards.  For a business I have nothing to do with.  A business that is one man strong.

What I’d like them to explain to me is quite simple.  How can they honestly believe that I have ‘expressed an interest’ in their product by burying my email address in the code of the website alongside a tag identifying me as a web designer?

I helped create the site, about fifteen years ago, and put my email address in the meta-tags.  And since that day, I’ve constantly received emails offering me services for the business.  Not my business, but the one the site belongs to.  The business that has contact details on it.
Almost every SPAM I get that mentions that site, tells me that they have sent the email after looking at the site and they felt that I would be interested in their product.  I always laugh, because if they visited the site, they wouldn’t sent ME the email.

I understand that businesses need to advertise.  I have no issue with it.  I often buy magazines for the adverts.  And I know that nothing I say will ever stop SPAM.

My problem is with the massive lie the DMA expects us to swallow.  Nobody, ever, in the history of advertising, has ever said ‘yes please, bombard me with advertising.’  (Unless, that is, they are in the business, and want to check out the competition.)
Nobody will ever opt-in to be sent endless adverts – which is why they ususally disguise them as ‘offers’ or ‘loyalty schemes’.

So stop lying about what you are doing.  It is SPAM.  It is not sent only to those who ‘expressed an interest’.  It is not possible to opt-out, or unsubscribe.

Nobody wants SPAM, the DMA send SPAM, so the DMA have re-defined what SPAM is.  But the DMA has millions of pounds to spend on getting their definition made legal, and I don’t.

Ah well.

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