Cabelas: Asking a Dead Email Address to Rate Purchases

Cabelas, a U.S.-based outdoor supplies retailer, is sending bulk email to an email address that was just re-enabled after passing its twelve-month timeout period. Assuming that the previous owner of this email address had signed up to receive Cabelas email, Cabelas ignored twelve months of 500-level SMTP rejections and continued to email this email address. That’s right — Cabelas is asking a customer whose email bounced for at least a year to rate his (or her) satisfaction with his purchases. As people say on Twitter, #LAME.

Unlike most companies that send bulk email, Cabelas does not appear to use an ESP; this email was sent from their own IPs.

Looking back over the past almost three months of blogs since the MainSleaze blog opened, I see a pattern with spam sent by companies that use their own IPs instead of an ESP. They seem to hit larger numbers of spamtraps, make elementary mistakes, and take longer to clean up their mess than when an ESP is involved. I don’t believe that this is representative of companies that manage their own bulk email. It isn’t impossible, or particularly difficult, for a company to manage its own bulk email and avoid spam IF the company first hires somebody who knows how and then lets them do their job. But companies wise enough to do this aren’t for the most part hitting my spamtraps.

Sending IP:

Spam Sample:

Actual Headers:

Received: from ( [])
        by <xxx> (Postfix) with ESMTP id <xxx>
        for <xxx>; Wed, 11 Jan 2012 10:xx:xx -0600 (CST)
Received: from (10.20.xx.xx) by id <xxx> 
        for <xxx>; Wed, 11 Jan 2012 08:xx:xx -0700 
        (envelope-from <>)
Message-ID: <<xxx>>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 08:xx:xx -0700 (MST)
From: Cabelas <>
To: <xxx>
Subject: Enter To Win a Cabela's Gift Card by Reviewing your Gear!
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

Readable Email:

From: Cabelas <>
To: <spamtrap>
Subject: Enter To Win a Cabela’s Gift Card by Reviewing your Gear!

Review Your Cabela’s Gear

Enter Cabela's Sweepstakes!


Thanks again for making Cabela’s your outfitter!

As you’ve been able to use the merchandise you purchased, we hope you are satisfied. In fact, we’d like to know about your experiences with our products, so we’ve made it easy for you to tell us – and the rest of the world!

Rate and review your purchase by clicking on the link below and be entered to win one of six gift cards. When you post a qualified review, you’ll be entered to win a $250 gift card or one of five $100 gift cards.


To ensure delivery to your inbox (not bulk or junk folders), please add to your address book.

This e-mail was sent to you by:
One Cabela Dr.
Sidney, NE 69160

Read Cabela’s Privacy/Security Policy.

We hope you found this message useful. However, if you’d rather not receive future customer ratings and reviews e-mails, please use this link to unsubscribe:

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