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How To Convince My Boss Not To Spam?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the engendering-ill-will dept.

Spam 475

An anonymous reader writes "The small travel agent that I work for recently received an email from one of our competitors with several thousand of their potential customers in the 'To:' and 'Cc:' fields. My boss now wants to use these addresses to send unsolicited advertisements. I would like to convince him not to do this, as I believe that this practice is morally wrong and legally dubious. However, morals don't go very far in the business world, so I'm asking Slashdot: what business-oriented arguments can I use to dissuade my boss from spamming?"

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475 comments

my $0.02 (5, Informative)

tomalpha (746163) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819905)

I reckon you've got a few options:

  1. point him towards your country's relevant legislation: UK [opsi.gov.uk] (and in non-legalese [yourlistblueprint.com]) or US [ftc.gov]
  2. explain why spam is so annoying because it's intrusive and it makes it harder to read wanted messages [sciencedaily.com] in your inbox
  3. explain that spamming 1000 people may get him 1 extra sale, but it will piss off the other 999 to the extent that some of them will go out of their way to avoid trading with you

Ok, so you're dealing with a sales-focussed person here, the only one likely to carry any weight is going to be last one and even then, you may be onto a losing streak. Assuming this person controls your pay packet, you're either going to have to put up a token resistance and then keep your mouth shut; or perhaps if you have the option, consider whether you want to be working for someone like that...

Re:my $0.02 (5, Funny)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819931)

I think you left out the most obvious. Post his private mail address here and the Slashdot mob will tell him.

Re:my $0.02 (5, Funny)

shri (17709) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820059)

Given the number of dumbarse "reply all" mails I get, I doubt there is any legislation which prevents you from doing a reply all. "Dear Competitor, Not sure why you sent us an email. We happen to be a similar business as you and offer far better services and cheaper rates than your business. Please unsubscribe us from your mailing list, as the specials that you've offered had us rolling in the aisles. Signed, Pointy Haired Boss"

Re:my $0.02 (1, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820117)

PS here is something 'funny' that has been doing the rounds for 15 years, if you do not pass it on to 1000 more people in the next 2 hours then wild dogs will chew off your testicles.

You're modded "Funny"... (5, Insightful)

Doctor O (549663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820343)

...but actually I think it's insightful. We keep getting such stupid mail, too, and I've done exactly what you suggest, with good results. ;)

Re:my $0.02 (5, Interesting)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820097)

My option?

Email all the customers on the list, telling them that the competitor has exposed their email address by their actions, and proposing that you supply their travel needs while guaranteeing that every email communication will be sent individually.

Ethical (you're exposing bad practice on the part of your competitor) and good business.

Tell him tt's a trap (5, Interesting)

DCFC (933633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820123)

My company has a variety of contact lists, and if any of them were to "leak", by CC etc, I'd start getting emails on addresses that *look* like real people but are in fact aliases for me.

If you boss spams like this, there exists the possibility that the other firm have taken this elementary precaution, which may be anything from seriously embarrassing to legally expensive.

Re:Tell him tt's a trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820275)

I can't imagine that replying to an email would be legally expensive.

Re:my $0.02 (5, Insightful)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820125)

I think the bottom line really is what has to be addressed as well, but explain it in other terms.
  1. The legal risk is nothing to sneeze at. Explain patiently that there are liability issues involved in sending unsolicited mail, that it is rapidly becoming illegal and that he ought to run it past his legal advisor first. (As a small travel agency, this will cost money as the lawyer/solicitor is not in-house).
  2. Many spam filters also subscribe to blacklists, and sending unsolicited mail will get him on one of these lists. This will make it harder to perform normal correspondence, as regular customers and business contacts will have problems receiving mail. It will cost time and money to undo that.
  3. If he doesn't have a mailing list set up yet with options to unsubscribe or other functions, it will take time (and money) to set it up.

I would argue that for his business, the effort and risk involved makes sending unsolicited mail a losing proposition, that the hidden costs of setting up and maintaining the mailing list makes it non-profitable. Sending unwanted mails is not like distributing flyers, not even like unsolicited telephone calls, as there is less chance of getting past filters.

If you're the computer guy, I would tell him that it's an idea that the agency should only explore after Projects X, Y, and Z are done, as they have a better chance of generating new business at less cost. Then let it die from neglect.

Re:my $0.02 (1)

yada21 (1042762) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820217)

Send them even more spam but faking it so they look like there from his competitor.

Re:my $0.02 (5, Informative)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820315)

That might look like fun, but in reality it has two things going against it:
  1. It's work setting it up. Who wants to spend time making it so that it isn't an obvious spoof?
  2. Spoofing your competitor is a really bad idea, legally. We are talking opening yourself up to lawsuits here that could drive you bankrupt, never mind criminal law.

I realise you probably were trying to be humorous, but you never know who might get the wrong idea reading these threads. Best to state the obvious anyway...

Shop him (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820219)

and you'll get a reward.

If you really must, point out that there is the possibility.

Point him at Seth Godin's books (5, Informative)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820371)

point him at this:

http://www.sethgodin.com/permission/ [sethgodin.com]

Seth Godin is the marketing guru who advised google on how to succeed in business. he knows his stuff, and he is MASSIVELY anti spam.
Tell your boss he needs to read the guys book before he does something that could wreck his business.

You can't. Spamming them will make the company $$ (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23819907)

sad, but true.

Re:You can't. Spamming them will make the company (1)

Feef Lovecraft (1231264) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820055)

Perhaps a cost/benefit analysis with pie chart, here's the cost of sending out these e-mails, here's the number of folks that the e-mail will bounce from, here's the number of folks that will block us, here's the number of folks that will report us and this tiny little point here is the number of people that will continue to shop with us.

Re:You can't. Spamming them will make the company (5, Informative)

drmerope (771119) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820087)

And is the right choice, if done smoothly. Don't mass email. Investigate each contact send a personalized note targeted at them and their business.

Use the information, just don't abuse it. Spam is quick and dirty, but a poor substitute for the elbow grease of real salesmanship.

Re:You can't. Spamming them will make the company (5, Insightful)

mlush (620447) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820323)

And is the right choice, if done smoothly. Don't mass email. Investigate each contact send a personalized note targeted at them and their business. Use the information, just don't abuse it. Spam is quick and dirty, but a poor substitute for the elbow grease of real salesmanship.

The things you see when you don't have any mod points :-(

Anyway Absolutely spot on, a competitors mailing list is marketing golddust, you could probably get a lot of sales data without too much hassle, emails going to the same company would be a good target indicator. Google API searching with the email domain could winnow out the people with websites (

Spamhaus (5, Informative)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819933)

Explain that sending spam might put your email server on the Spamhaus blacklist, OR pissing of your provider, so you cannot send email again to existing clients.

Legally dubious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23819935)

... is the keyword here. Companies spend millions on lawyers, legal insurances and the like. Explain to him that what he is doing could be a legal risk.

Spam is filtered (5, Insightful)

apetrelli (1308945) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819941)

Simply tell him that, usually, spam is filtered and deleted automatically. Once he sent a sufficiently large amount of spam, the filter will filter away the legitimate e-mails too.

None really. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23819943)

Short of actual legal arguments (in which case ask a lawyer), there is no real argument against it.

Its probably safe to assume all of those potential customers are not looking for a new, erm, provider (?). If this is the case, then pissing them off by spamming them results in no real loss, and any of those stupid potential customers that actually listens to the spam and considers your company is a potential gain. So, at the end of the day, there is nothing to lose, and much to possibly gain.

Somehow, I don't think any argument you make is going to convince your boss.

Teach him (5, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819947)

Get his home email address

Enter it here (don't visit from work, do it from a web cafe and behind 7 proxies)

http://www.spamyourenemies.com/ [spamyourenemies.com]

After a while he'll go off the idea. You might want to recommend Thunderbird to him.

Re:Teach him (5, Funny)

erikina (1112587) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820161)

Hey, cool site. I added a few addresses. Then after some consideration, I added my email address (to see how much spam, and how good my filtering is), and got this message:

That email address has already been submitted!


I guess I'm not too popular.. (Luckily I use gmail for my domain, and out of ~2000 monthly spam, only 2 hit my inbox. And only 1 false positive to date)

Explain why spam is bad (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819949)

...then it's up to your boss. If he won't listen and you REALLY don't like it, start looking for another job. However make sure it's important enough to give your job up over. If morals are important to you I think you'll find that no matter what job you do there are going to be aspects of it you aren't comfortable with. At the end of the day you have to be sure you can live with yourself.

Subscribe him (4, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819951)

Subscribe him to some spamming sites. And shut down his spam filter. Spammers typically have small dicks, so maybe he could use some "medicine"

why convince? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23819959)

Whack the stupit git!

Point out the negative effects (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819963)

Here's some of the stuff that's likely to happen to your company if it sends those messages:

* Your mail server will be added to blacklists. Legitimate messages you send later may disappear with no indication that they have done so, causing endless frustration and possibly lost money.
* Complaints may reach your web site's hosting provider, who may take it offline. Seriously: this happened to one of my clients once. This does happen.
* Some recipients are likely to be annoyed and may decide to never do business with your company. The long-term costs of this could be significant.
* Depending on where you're based, this could be illegal under either protection of privacy laws (e.g. the UK's Data Protection Act) or anti-spam laws (e.g. several state laws in the U.S.). Your company may receive a hefty fine because of it.

Re:Point out the negative effects (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820111)

  • Some recipients are likely to be annoyed and computer-savy enough that they may decide to hang a big shiny moon onto your ASP-based web server

Re:Point out the negative effects (1, Funny)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820141)

Tell him the information in your company WHOIS means that he could end up the target of a mob hit because the mafia doesnt like people honing in on their territory (they're behind alot of the penis enlargement and drug spam stuff)

Re:Point out the negative effects (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820203)

The idiot employer was considering spamming for his small business, not starting up a botnet and using it to advertise illegally manufactured drugs - somebody might do a whois, but they're only gonna inform the hosting ISP, not the Russian mob that some idiot is encroaching on their territory...

Re:Point out the negative effects (4, Interesting)

hankwang (413283) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820173)

Your mail server will be added to blacklists.

I doubt it. If the competitor is able to send mailings without being blacklisted , then there are no honeypot addresses in there. It is not likely that enough recipients will take the effort to report the mail to spamcop.net (are there any other blacklists based on manual reporting? Is the spamcop blacklist widely used anyway?) to get the sender blacklisted. At most, some individual Bayesian filters may become more sensitive to the name of the company and travel-related spam, although I'm not sure how hotmail/gmail/yahoo exactly deal with user-reported spam.

Some recipients are likely to be annoyed and may decide to never do business with your company.

The submitter works for a travel agency. Plenty of competition; the chance that the potential customer comes to them is small anyway.

I'm afraid that, however unethical this spamming would be, the risk of getting in trouble is rather small.

Post his email address on Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23819971)

...and the community will provide millions of very convincing reasons.

When is spam not spam... (4, Insightful)

topham (32406) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819973)


Send a notice to all the email addresses with a notice informing them that your competitor has been disclosing their email address in all the emails they send out.

A small signature indicating who you are, and a link to your website would be enough to bring some of them to you.

This could be considered a public-service to those people.

It also could be a trap and some of those email address could be honey pots with the hope that you send email to them and get yourself put on the spam lists.

Re:When is spam not spam... (2, Insightful)

optilude (233718) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820063)

I think that's terrible form. I realise it's an election year in America and attack ads are the vogue, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and definitely wouldn't impress me.

Contacting the company who made the mistake would be a lot better.

Re:When is spam not spam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820245)

Totally offtopic...

I was about to say to the OP that's a great guerilla tactic for taking out your competitor, but then I saw your reply and recognized the name optilude.

Since we're on the same side on the Plone lists I have declined :)

And I post anonymously in order to preserve my precious /. karma.

Re:When is spam not spam... (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820193)

Your recommendation would constitute as unsolicited bulk email, and in many regions would his employer in legal hot water.

In California, that would constitute a $500 fine per email unless he could prove each and every one of those people requested communications from him or was an existing customer of his. Doing a "public service" is still illegal in this case.

And, there are people who make a small fortune just going around suing small-time spammers. If one of them happens to be on this list, there's $500 down the drain.

Business is war,weakling ! The business Gods RAGE (5, Interesting)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819975)

Stealing your competitor's customers is what capitalism is.

You need to separate your hate of spam from the realities of business:

Ethical, kind people go bankrupt.

I have my own company, and if this happened to me I would be working this gift from God HARD.

Re:Business is war,weakling ! The business Gods RA (1, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820011)

So, ehmm, would you tell us a little more about your business so we all know who to avoid?

Re:Business is war,weakling ! The business Gods RA (5, Funny)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820021)

So, ehmm, would you tell us a little more about your business so we all know who to avoid?
You'll figure it out when you get the email.

Re:Business is war,weakling ! The business Gods RA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820049)

if spamhaus is working, you won't need to know.

Re:Business is war,weakling ! The business Gods RA (0, Flamebait)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820045)

I have my own company, and if this happened to me I would be working this gift from God HARD.
<flamebait>Another example religious people are not better than atheists</flamebait>
Sorry, I couldn't resist, it's so funny.

Re:Business is war,weakling ! The business Gods RA (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820065)

I find your argument interesting, and I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter. Care to tell us your email address? :)

Re:Business is war,weakling ! The business Gods RA (2, Insightful)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820319)

And if I had any business with your company, that would be the end of it.

You would get reported for spamming; if it continued, you would get sued, and my business would go elsewhere.

Then again, I wouldn't do business with the original moron sending all the contacts in the CC: field either.

Ethical or at least semi-ethical behaviour can give you an advantage here.
Someone suggested, for instance, replying to everyone (for good measure, put them in the BCC: field) and making a relatively subtle ad out of it.
I would actually make it a little spam lecture, explaining why this should never be done, and directly letting the competitor know that I have a list of his potential customers which I am not going to spam further. With apologies to everyone reading this as an unsolicited message, but it's an important matter and they will not hear from me again anyway.

Make it all sound not only intelligent, but funny too, and you'll make people laugh, and thus likely to read it through. Some may then decide to click on the link in your signature or simply reply. If they do, it is them contacting you.
I've done it a few times, when an occasional moronic spammer sent me and a hundred other people a shady MLM business offer. I analyzed the hell out of it, cussed at him just because he was a moron, explained every single detail, including who he worked for though he conveniently failed to mention it (a sthey always do), and it got me a few laughs. People who were bothered by the mail were encouraged at the very beginning to delete it immediately, so I'm fairly sure I had not made a pest out of myself.
Of course, it was private mail, so no business contacts resulted from it. In business mail, kindly do refrain from cussing.

You can exploit your competitions's mistakes and weaknesses. It's part of doing business.
Employing the same strategy that youu found to be their weakness is simply moronic.

What if this had happened long ago, pre-email? (1)

bushelpeck (1090329) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820325)

It's not really a question of spam at all, it's a question of business ethics.

Imagine this happened in 1978, not 2008, and your competitor snail-mailed you (read: your employer) his client address list. Would it be ethical for you to contact these accidentally-obtained leads and try to persuade them to switch their business?

At the risk of being modded into oblivion, I think the answer is yes, up to a point. Your competitor made an unforced error. You did not go hunting or hacking for this information. As long as the solicitation is mindful of the way in which the addresses were obtained, and presents a genuine choice for the customer (and is not followed by repeated unending annoyance), go ahead and pitch your offer.

It's just an offer, after all. Customers can choose to accept or reject it. Some might even be glad to hear from the competition.

this will go completely against the grain here (5, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819977)

So, at the risk of blowing my karma for the next 200 years:

Either do the job or quit.

Seriously. You got hired to do his bidding, if he wants to spam let him reap the consequences, make careful note of your objections. Then also admit you're a tool.

And if you can't live with that then grow some backbone and quit. There has to be other employment for someone with your skills.

Re:this will go completely against the grain here (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820109)

I'd quit if I notice my boss doesn't want my input but only my work force. The latter will sooner or later be replaced by some kind of script.

I usually get hired to do exactly what the OP wants to do: Tell my boss why some of his ideas ain't so bright. A boss who wants his employees to "do his biddings", without objection or at least suggestion, hopefully has some large corporation around him to fend off his bloopers or he'll face bankrupcy soon (another reason to go look for a new job if he does). Managers rarely care or even know about the subtle social problems technical solutions create, and the smart ones are quite thankful when you keep them from putting their foot into it. Most do care about their "face" with their peers, or do you think he wants to hear "oh, so that was the tard that flooded our mailserver" next time his superior grants him the favor of inviting him to a golf game with his buddies?

Overreacting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820115)

That's a bit extremist, isn't it? You *can* try convincing people that you're right, instead of just being a tool.

But if you have to, quit. I mean, think of the consequences. Would YOU want a company like, say, SCO on your resume?

Re:Overreacting (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820149)

Anybody that claims that they are not aware of the legal situation (and the nuisance of) regarding spam is probably not worth working for anyway.

Nothing extremist about it, the fact that the OP is looking for 'arguments against his boss' that wants to spam is already sketching a situation that makes me wonder.

If I had my tinfoil hat on I'd twist it around to 'these people use ./ to see if there are things they should guard against before some massive spam campaign that they haven't thought of themselves'... but that's probably too farfetched. I hope...

Re:Overreacting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820335)

Consequences? It could make for some excellent sympathy during interviews.

Re:this will go completely against the grain here (2, Interesting)

jnnnnn (1079877) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820153)

This reminds me of the engineer in Going Postal, one Mr. Pony. With the company falling down around his ears, he hoped he would be safe because he had written lots of warnings to the management (which they had ignored) and kept copies.

Warn him, say you think it's immoral, and then let him decide. Accept his decision, and keep a copy of the warning (i.e. email it) in case things go bad.

Re:this will go completely against the grain here (1)

dodobh (65811) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820229)

Part of the job is to ask people to do the right thing.

Ethics? (2, Insightful)

srodden (949473) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820321)

Your advice is unethical, jacquesm.

As an employee, a person has a contractual obligation to perform all reasonable tasks as set out in the employment contract. In addition, every member of society has a moral/social obligation (and very possibly a legal obligation (duty of care)) to ensure that they take reasonable measures to ensure that their colleagues (which includes their supervisors) do not expose the company to unreasonable risk nor act in an illegal or unethical manner.

By advising the OP to shaddup and lump it, you're advising an unethical course of action.

I think the OP has done the right thing by consulting the peer group for advice. That advice seems to be "Present your boss with a list of all the reasons against spamming and suggest the plan is cancelled." By doing so the OP would A. be acting responsibly and ethically and B. covering their backside in case the boss foolishly goes ahead with the plan.

Re:this will go completely against the grain here (1)

daffmeister (602502) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820347)

Part of the job of any employee is to bring their experience to the benefit of their boss. In this case, this employee has knowledge of the negative consequences of spam, and he definitely should use this to advise his boss.

If, after presenting all the arguments the boss decides to continue, then probably go ahead. But the poster asked for good arguments, he wasn't refusing point-blank to do it.

Profit ! (1)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819981)

Simply explain to him the returns on investment on two scenarios:

1 / 0,5% return on a spam campaign, with all the legal problems he might encounter

2 / Possible large settlement when he sues his competitor for spamming him

Ok, I never said I had a moral solution....

Re:Profit ! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820145)

The first point might actually encourage him. 0.5% success at zero cost? I'll buy that!

The second will encourage him to sue his competitor and then spam away. Not without asking the legal guys first how to do it without getting sued.

Simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23819987)

Honestly, I would say that nobody in their right mind buys expensive travel services from unsolicited mailings.

Why? (1)

thegoldenear (323630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819991)

Why should we help your business do better? if you're destined to fail because of poor ethical and legal practices then why should we slow your demise?

Simple Idea (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23819993)

Cut of his balls and sned parts out to his family

Umm... it's illegal? (1)

fretlessjazz (975926) | more than 5 years ago | (#23819997)

If you tell your boss it's illegal to send unsolicited advertisements and he brushes you off, find a new employer:). That's probably not all he's capable of doing. Call me paranoid, but I do speak from experience.

Depends. (3, Insightful)

sporkme (983186) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820001)

Does your company sell v1agra or c1alis? Or the organic forms of these, or the "legit" ones from Canada? Then its green light. Otherwise, your company will be equated with these companies.

The dreaded I for one will not do business with Amazon, Buy.com and several minor companies specifically because I have received unsolicited (aka "partner") spam from them. I disapprove of the practice and will pay a couple of dollars to avoid companies who engage in it.

I would say the best argument against spamming is that it damages the brand. Sales reps can proudly claim that they are above their competitors in that "we do not spam."

It might be a better angle to subtly reveal that your competitor has leaked private information and that your company chose to take the high road by discarding it.

Also, don't die on this cross. Companies spam, as a rule.

Re:Depends. (4, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820289)

Technically "partner" spam IS solicited. You agreed with one of their partners that THEIR partners (i.e. Amazon etc.) could send you advertisements by email.

You agreed to it.

Simple.... (4, Insightful)

ArIck (203) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820005)

Tell them it would give your travel agency a bad rep. No one reads spam these days and would most likely piss them off. Which does not go good for business.

You could also say that this could be a setup on part of your competitor to see how you would act in such a morally damning area. Maybe they would base their own future actions based on this. Think about it: Who gives To and CC fields and email's a copy to their competitors. ITS A TRAP (you may not believe it but to convince your boss you may have to do that)

Re:Simple.... (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820051)

I think the simple fact that spam campaigns still exist are proof positive that (unfortunately) plenty of people still read spam.

Spam will only go away when people really stop responding, as long as the %age of users that falls for it is measurable I don't think spam will go away. In fact it will simply get worse and worse to make up for the degree to which it no longer functions.

After all the spammers have this sense of being 'entitled' to a certain amount of income. If they sent out a million emails last year in a campaign and made 10K and this year they'll make only 5 they will simply double the size of the list to make up for the perceived loss.

Re:Simple.... (1)

heikkile (111814) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820271)

I think the simple fact that spam campaigns still exist are proof positive that (unfortunately) plenty of people still read spam.

I am not too sure. It only proves that many enough loosers believe they can make money from spamming. I bet many of them give up after a while, and never recover the cost of the spamming software, address lists, internet connection, and initial stock of useless pills. Then they try some other clever plan to make quick money (day trading, multil-level marketing, gambling, what ever). Some might eventually learn, but by that time a new generation of fools has been born.

Re:Simple.... (3, Insightful)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820337)

Actually, spam exists due to the feeding chain of confidence men. The spammers themselves are being conned by the spam software and botnet sellers. That's why so much spam is so bad, because it's thieves robbing thieves.

consequences..... (3, Informative)

tloh (451585) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820009)

I've not participated in business operations involving high volume email. But even as a private individual, I've gotten in hot water before when I've sent out messages to large a number of recipients. Some of my intended (consenting) targets have reported my stuff ending up in their Spam folder. As such, you may convince your boss that it would hurt his business goals in the long run as he risk getting "black listed". Maybe even to the point that legitimate communication gets denied by filtering software that has been trained through exposure to the business's email address.

Re:consequences..... (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820355)

This is a very good piece of advice.

If the PHB is unaware of the BCC: field, "forget" to mention that possibility, and take this track.

If he is more tech-savvy, point him to this discussion and have him post his e-mail address here, so we could show him how annoying spam can be.

If you're really mean, post his e-mail on 4chan, saying "spam my boss with the sickest stuff you can find". If that doesn't teach him, nothing will.

Spam gives a sleazy image (2, Informative)

paai (162289) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820027)

I do not know what firm you are working for, but really well established companies do not spam. Tell your boss that he puts himself in the same league as Viagra sellers and email scammers.

Blackmail! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820031)

Explain to him that he could make more money by blackmailing the competitor which sent him the addresses.

wtf? (4, Insightful)

audiocure (1302029) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820037)

I'm not an expert when it comes to email marketing, but I have had some experience with it before... To my knowledge, any credible mass-mail service will send the emails so that it's addressed to a single person (per email). If they are dumb enough to expose all of their clients in the TO and CC fields, it seems like they're asking for trouble. Of course, this may not solve for the moral dilemma, but it's not like your boss is going out of his way and buying a list of email leads (which is ridiculous); they're all right there for the picking! They only argument I can think of is telling him to research the target prospects and send mail based upon that.. then it's not really unsolicited - more like cold calling. A lot of people don't take into consideration that some email *is* targeted, and it really is no different than picking up the phone and calling the customer directly, or sending them something by mail... While cold calling is becoming more and more obsolete in today's business environment, doing some research and choosing some leads isn't really all that bad - especially when your competitor is kind enough to do some of the leg work for you.

Re:wtf? (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820373)

But even then, send one and only one targeted e-mail to each potential customer.

If they do not reply, they are not interested, and will not appreciate your next e-mail.

small buisness worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820039)

the way you describe your boss currently is small in a business sense, most companies or individuals trying to work their way up do so by being personal and polite to their customers to make them happy. thus spreading by word of mouth "hey that guy did right by me he is a stand up person i recommend him" or (insert equally lame example here).

if he blanket emails people he may get new customers but he did not get them in a polite manner (and perhaps not the most ethical way either). if his current customers find out that he spams for business he may loose customers in the long run.

Obvious really (5, Insightful)

optilude (233718) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820041)

1. It's an abuse of personal data, since the owner of that data (the individual) did not opt in. In many countries (particularly the UK) this is illegal and can land you in a lot of trouble.

2. If you're a small company, your reputation is going to be worth a lot more than one or two customers who may answer your email. Doing something that's at worst illegal and and at best irritating is hardly going to help your reputation.

3. Business ethos and ethics matter. As a consumer, I often know that dealing with a small company could cost slightly more than buying from a large one with economies of scale. However, I may feel it is worth it if the service is better or if I identify positively with the company. I have broken off relations in the past with companies that marketed too aggressively. This is entirely rational behaviour and not something limited to techies who "get" spam and are over-protective of their inboxes.

Cheers,
Martin

You offer an alternative solution (4, Insightful)

jsse (254124) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820043)

Hire spamming agency to spam your potential customers on behalf of your competitors. Compare your sales figures with your competitors at the end of a quarter. There you've solid proof to convince your boss.

Show him how it will not make money, only cost him (3, Informative)

blanks (108019) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820079)

There is very little you can do other then point out how it's illegal (if it is in your country) and or how it is morally wrong; which as it sounds isn't a problem with your employer. Since he was all ready signed up for their mailing list specifically to undermine any sales/services etc they might have to offer this is just another way for them to try taking business away from them.

Contact your ISP and ask them what their policy about sending spam which will most likely be that they do not allow it, and tell the boss that the ISP will cut service if you try it. As long as he will lose money it might keep him from going though with it.

Ramada Resorts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820089)

They'll do anything, including "spoofing" your boss to think they accidently released all that info.

They'll wait a bit and then contact them while apologizing that some scum/lower tier agency was scamming their customers/potential customers and we've got a great deal to make.

Please educate your friends and family that if it involves TV/Internet/FREEPLAYSTATION/XBOX/52HIGHDEFINITIONTV13724ONYOURFM.FREE.PLAY.RADIO.ORG.NET.COM

It isn't.

Just desserts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820093)

Send it from his email account so he'll get all the bounces - or set up the sending account to forward all mail received to his account.

Better yet, "prune" the list to remove all the innocent people, and add nothing but bogus email addresses so every single one will bounce (write a script to check for domains based on 3-4 dictionary words but that return no valid authoritative NS records).

No one will get harmed, 'cept your ISP will be highly annoyed (perhaps tip them off, or have one of those spam emails come to your own little anonymous account, which you can forward to the ISP). The ISP will no doubt give your boss a nice call, and he'll get all the bounces.

Oh, and line up a job at a place with above board business practices.

Sign him up for this... (1)

Miladinoski (1280850) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820121)

SPAM [youtube.com]

Let him feel the consequences!

Some pointers on how to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820167)

It is initially an attractive option to mail all the customers on the list - the problem with that is, as has been mentioned before, that they can get upset, you may be blacklisted, etc.

For this reason the following advice seems clear and obvious:

1. Hire a third-party emailer to send the advertisements from a separate location. That way, your company will not be on the black list.

2. Put in the "Sent from" field, your competitor's email address. That way any complaints will only reach them. This is justified because they started spamming in the first place.

3. For the actual advertisement as well however, to avoid complaints, you should make a mail that imitates your competitor's website, but where the true supplier and owner of the bank account is actually yourself. In this way you will be supplying the customers, but they would direct any complaints to your competitor, which is justified per 2.

If you go down this route then overall success is guaranteed.

Hit reply all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820133)

Hey, if it was me, I would hit reply all and say something short and simple with my business in the footer.

Seth Godin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820171)

Give him "permission marketing" from Seth Godin to read. (See http://www.sethgodin.com/permission/) Explains how much he'll hurt himself spamming.

Tell him that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820187)

this would seriously impact his brand's value. Negatively. Very.

Use a sex / romance analogy (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820189)

Reformulate the problem into the sexual / romantic arena. Imagine a guy who asks every single woman he meets "hey baby, nice ass, want to go back to my place?" That sort of thing reeks of desperation as well as lack of confidence, and even if used on hundreds or thousands of women the result is usually 100% failure. In the rare event of success the result is more likely to be ... a less than satisfactory arrangement (e.g. ugly woman, one night stand, STDs, etc.) Additionally, it insults and turns off a huge number of potentially otherwise interested women.

Whereas being more selective in potential romantic partners, using a more measured and sophisticated approach to communication (flirting, chatting, slowly moving to the right level of familiarity at the right time, being willing to back off when necessary, etc.), and presenting a better and more confident image tends to result in higher success rates with more desirable partners, even though it takes more effort.

The same is the case for business. With spam, at best you get some tiny percentage of customers with 0 loyalty whatsoever while building up a huge mountain of ill-will with an enormous number of potential customers. Whereas more socially sophisticated methods of communicating and treating potential customers has a higher chance of success, has a higher chance of creating more profitable and worthwhile customers, has a higher chance of creating customers who have such a positive view of your company and your services that they will tell their friends (doing your advertising and sales work for you), and even in the event of a "missed sale" will still leave the customer with a positive image of your company and product and will leave open the opportunity for that person to become a future customer if they change their mind or develop new needs.

Ask him how he deals with other people in person and make him see that the same reasons he doesn't use lame mass-spam techniques in real life are applicable online, even with strangers.

You get things the wrong way around. (1)

gyepi (891047) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820223)

Your scheme is the following:
1. I think X is morally wrong.
2. I try to find the arguments which could justify me thinking that X is wrong.
3. Selectively use these arguments to convince others about my original position.

Instead, you should try:
1. I have the hunch that X is morally wrong.
2. I try to find arguments pro and contra, and decide on their basis whether I was initially right or wrong.
3. Take action on the basis of the result of my deliberation in step 2, instead of sticking to my hunch in step 1.

I got to agree with his boss (1)

olliM (1239308) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820257)

We are not talking about sending v1agr@ ads to random addresses, it's legitimate, well targeted advertisement to people that are likely to need the products that they are selling.

Just do it as you would start any selling, send them each an individual email telling them of your offerings and be sure to have a working email address as sender (sales@yourcompany.com). If you really are serious about making the sales, have an intern look up the phone number of the people you are writing to and call them afterwards.

If the competitor didn't want to lose his clients, he shouldn't be stupid enough to spread their contact information around.

Olli

Unsolicited commercial email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23820307)

The fact that he is contacting people that haven't supplied their details to your business is most likely the biggest "legal" barrier he will have. Most countries legislation or trading practices should outline this provision, or rather outline that unsolicited commercial email is SPAM and is a reportable/punishable offence. Unsolicited being the key in this scenario.

In Australia at least he'd be up for a fine in the tens of thousands of dollars range, possibly more if he chose not to make use of an unsubscribe link etc.

Problems with "advertising" (5, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820317)

The response rate to this sort of advertising is extremely low. He'll be lucky to get a single response, thus making it not worth the time to compose an email.

Most people react badly to unsolicited emailed advertisements. It is likely that some of these people are already customers or potential customers. This will dissuade them from choosing your company in the future.

If any customers are in the EU, you may have a data protection liability. Even if you don't, at least some people will respond requesting to be removed from the mailing list, which is something that will have to be dealt with.

It's very likely to be against the terms and conditions of your ISP.

It is possible that you will be blacklisted by the recipients ISPs (unlikely if he does this once)

There may be some legal ramifications for taking advantage of an obvious mistake by the other company. Even just a baseless legal threat would take time and money to deal with.

Try telephones first (1)

jbatista (1205630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23820379)

Has your boss/company tried piking the public phonebook list and calling random people? Why / why not?
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