Eat24: How NOT To Win a Customer Back :(

Eat24, a U.S. company that allows people to order meals from participating restaurants and delivers those meals to their homes, just sent YET ANOTHER bulk advertising email to the tagged email address that I gave them when I tried their service a few months ago. At that time, although they did not ask permission to do so, they put that email address on a mailing list. I unsubscribed after I received the welcome message by clicking the Unsubscribe URL, and also sent email to abuse@eat24hours.com telling them, in no uncertain terms, that an email address given to complete a transaction did not grant permission to send bulk email. I didn’t hear from them again til today, when the attached spam arrived. The ESP is Vertical Response.

There are two points of failure in this email. First, you DO NOT CONTACT an email address via bulk email that has unsubscribed. That’s spamming, plain and simple. Second, you DON’T title your spam, “Eat24 Is Not Stalking You. Bribing you? Maybe.”! It’s entirely too reminiscent of earlier spammers who said THIS IS NOT SPAM in the Subject lines of their spam, except that it’s creepier.

I unsubscribed a second time via the URL in this second unsolicited bulk email. I normally would not unsubscribe a second time, but as I far as I can remember Vertical Response was not managing Eat24’s bulk email back when I tried them out and they first put me on their list. Vertical Response is a reputable ESP, so I was willing to give them the feedback that they needed to get this email address off of their customer’s list AND educate the customer about how not to do bulk email. To help with that process, I also sent email to abuse@verticalresponse.com, cc’d to abuse@eat24hours.com, telling them what had happened. In that email, I stated that I would consider *any* future bulk email to the tagged email address or any other email address of mine from Eat24 to be spam.

Part of the value of ESPs is that they understand the “rules of the road” while companies (especially new/small companies) often do not. We’ll see if Vertical Response can educate their customer about how not to use bulk email.

The following spam sample is completely unredacted, on purpose.

Sending IP: 63.251.246.20

Spam Sample:

Actual Headers:

Received: from mkt9-in.verticalresponse.com (mkt9-in.verticalresponse.com [63.251.246.20])
	by pinochet.ergosphere.net (Postfix) with ESMTP id BC44C648086
	for <e24h@ergosphere.net>; Thu,  9 Feb 2012 12:38:56 -0600 (CST)
DomainKey-Signature: q=dns; a=rsa-sha1; c=nofws;
	s=mkt; d=vresp.com;
	h=DKIM-Signature:Received:From:Reply-To:To:Subject:Date:Message-ID:List-Unsubscribe:MIME-Version:X-Company_ID:X-vrfbldomain:X-vrpod:X-CTS-Enabled:X-Campaign:X-vrrpmm:Content-Type;
	b=hrklfG7qmZxHf1yfUjoYhhDxlD/dQGux8XnKGd5QR4cw4AXHoMWNSSUI8QT7Y6QP
	ZUz3MLLW/TRRiVvolyoLBBf5fGu7VoTt9CGE11AvXkSON5BwhyZpTpoqEXMDcByf
	13AWEGIPbCl9+rAl4UZh0vu0rrzaUK0L+acs/iXTDww=
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha1; d=vresp.com; s=dkim; c=simple/simple;
	q=dns/txt; i=@vresp.com; t=1328812736;
	h=From:Subject:Date:To:MIME-Version:Content-Type;
	bh=Zc7mB/wyTnBRirHoqZbwnkFU90Q=;
	b=cz8wrz0pJSIPfIpSv4uUqq/6eH35CGgggocc2/sPXbSI786DTXfPKeVGxc/rPmlW
	d9zolo7m7DJzB1MVD+H/sejhluy4cq0bYkMc+/0g/XuuzKEKwWfu+M2L3LLBrHmF
	2jg/gg4OEYfeq6Ir9HfdmGnZfHAc7ag0Bu8+g6PravI=;
Received: from [10.4.33.153] ([10.4.33.153:56476] helo=vm-mailer15.sf.verticalresponse.com)
	by mendocino (envelope-from <bounces-b170086d54-d2257b075e@b.cts.vresp.com>)
	(ecelerity 3.1.6.41536 r(41536)) with ESMTP
	id 3F/18-27914-0C2143F4; Thu, 09 Feb 2012 10:38:56 -0800
From: "Eat24" <Eat24@mail.vresp.com>
Reply-To: "Eat24" <reply-b170086d54-d2257b075e-04c2@u.cts.vresp.com>
To: e24h@ergosphere.net
Subject: Eat24 Is Not Stalking You. Bribing you? Maybe.
Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2012 18:38:56 +0000
Message-ID: <b170086d54-e24h=ergosphere.net@mail.vresp.com>
List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:reply-b170086d54-d2257b075e-04c2@u.cts.vresp.com?subject=unsubscribe>
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Company_ID: 661666
X-vrfbldomain: fbl.p0.verticalresponse.com
X-vrpod: p0
X-CTS-Enabled: b170086d54-d2257b075e
X-Campaign: b170086d54
X-vrrpmm: 661666-b170086d54
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
    boundary="__________MIMEboundary__________";
    charset="UTF-8"

Readable Email:

From: Eat24 <Eat24@mail.vresp.com>
To: <e24h@ergosphere.net>
Subject: Eat24 Is Not Stalking You. Bribing you? Maybe.
Reply-To: Eat24 <reply-b170086d54-d2257b075e-04c2@u.cts.vresp.com>

You love food? So do we!
We must be soul mates.

Hi. We’re Eat24. And we are not, repeat not, creepily stalking you. We did, however, notice that you recently used us to order from one of your favorite restaurants. OK, maybe we are stalking you a little.
But before you call the cops, hear us out. Did you enjoy your meal? Did you get everything you ordered?

<removed>

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please reply to this message with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line or simply click on the following link:

http://cts.vresp.com/u?b170086d54/d2257b075e/mlpftw

2 Responses to Eat24: How NOT To Win a Customer Back :(

  1. BTW, Vertical Response responded to my email and assured me that e24h@ergosphere.net had been removed from their copy of the customer’s list. They also (correctly) pointed out that, unless the customer re-imports that list, they don’t have any control over what the customer does with their own list. So I’m satisfied that they have done what they could do.

    I would really like to hear from Eat24, though. They, not their ESP, caused this problem and they need to fix it.

  2. Over on Twitter, I (as @MainsleazeSpam) tweeted this message to Eat24 and Vertical Response:

    @eat24 @eat24hours: Guys, an unsubscribe means DON’T SEND ANY MORE BULK EMAIL! http://mainsleaze2.spambouncer.org/?p=1258 @VR4SmallBiz #Creepy

    @Eat24 tweeted this back to me:

    @MainsleazeSpam You are absolutely right. Note taken. Didn’t mean to spam you, just trying to spoil you. Enjoy your day!

    I’ve been around enough marketing people to read that as a mixture of irony and the general good cheer that most marketers display in any public place, mixed *maybe* with a bit of mischief at the #Creepy hashtag. In other words, I don’t think it was intended to creep me or anybody out. I also don’t think that this marketer learned anything useful about spam from the experience, but hopefully he/they will from Vertical Response. 🙂

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