QVC: Verifying Email Addresses that Never Responded to Email

Today video and e-commerce retailer QVC sent what appears to be a re-engagement or verification email to a pristine spamtrap. The spamtrap probably got onto QVC’s list because the user typoed the real email address when subscribing. The email indicates that the user has not responded to emails “recently”, and asks for the user to indicate whether they want to stay on QVC’s list. The ESP is Cheetahmail, a subsidiary of Experian.

The spamtrap that QVC emailed has, of course, NEVER responded to any email that QVC sent to it. Even if the person that subscribed that email address wanted QVC’s email, he or she never received their emails, so could not respond. Unfortunately QVC did not act quickly to find the reason for the lack of response, did not have an effective vetting method to spot mistyped or forged email addresses, and continued to email this email address for at least two months and probably several. (I checked only back to November 1; QVC emailed this spamtrap email address two to four times weekly from that time.) The QVC re-engagement email also does not explicitly state that the email address will receive no more email if the recipient does not respond, although that is implied in the email.

QVC is doing the right thing to check whether a non-responsive email address means that the user isn’t interested in their email. They need to improve their process to remove bad data from the outset, however, so that they don’t email typoed or forged email addresses for several months before dropping them from their list.

Sending IP:

Spam Sample:

Actual Headers:

Received: from ( [])
        by <xxx> (Postfix) with SMTP id <xxx>
        for <xxx>; Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:##:## +0000 (UTC)
DKIM-Signature: <xxx>
DomainKey-Signature: <xxx>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="======<xxx>======"
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:##:## -0000
From: "QVC" <>
Message-Id: <<xxx>>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Received: (qmail 40870 invoked by uid 108); Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:##:## -0000
Reply-To: "QVC" <support-<xxx>>
Subject: Say YES to QVC Email! Get Special Offers & Previews
To: <xxx>

Readable Email:

From: QVC <>
To: <spamtrap>
Subject: Say YES to QVC Email! Get Special Offers & Previews
Reply-To: QVC <support-<xxx>>

QVC – Let’s Stay in Touch…Learn How to Keep QVC Emails Coming

Let’s Stay in Touch*

It’s been a while since you checked out our special email promotions. Click YES! to keep receiving offers chosen just for you such as:

– Invitations to shop TSV(R) offers in advance
– Limited – time low prices, Easy Pay and S&H Savings
– Early access to NEW items.

YES! Keep Sending Me Email ><xxx>/reconfirm?TODAYS_DATE=01182014

I’d Like to Update My Email Preferences ><xxx>/mainpref?TODAYS_DATE=01182014&GUID1=<xxx>


(C) 2014 QVC, Inc. The brand names, slogans, logos, service marks and other trademarks of QVC’s goods, services and promotions belong exclusively to QVC Inc. and/or, ER Marks, Inc., its subsidiary companies, licensees and partners, and are protected from copying and simulation under national and international trademark and copyright laws and treaties throughout the world. All other product or brand names are trademarks of their respective owners.

QVC, Inc. is located at 1200 Wilson Drive, West Chester, PA 19380.

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