Is Fogdog's email marketing Wrong?
I spent several hours on Tuesday trying to convince
Fogdog.com that their current "Draft-A-Friend"
unsolicited commercial email (UCE) campaign is Wrong.
They held firm that their practices are not wrong in
any way, and of course they trumped my complaint by
insisting that no one else has ever complained about
Fogdog is soliciting its customers and affiliates to
provide the company with their friends' email addresses
(no more than 25) in exchange for rewards based on the
number of friends who place orders with Fogdog. Fogdog
then sends an email solicitation to the "friends," with
the Fogdog customer or affiliate listed as the "sender"
of the email.
My objection to this and many other "email referral
marketing" programs is that it is Unsolicited
Commercial Email, and thus is Wrong. Without
reflecting on how many people out there might not
consider me to be their "friend," there are certainly
thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of netizens who
consider me their "friend" and who might conceivably
sign me up (without my knowledge or consent -- to use
the current buzzword, I have not given Permission) to
receive these types of emails. (Naturally, I wouldn't
consider these people to be my friends if they did so,
but I have certainly heard from hundreds of
self-proclaimed "friends" who wanted to share the news
about Quixtar, and AllAdvantage, and GoToWorld, and a
dozen other "refer-a-friend" schemes).
Sure, there are some mitigating factors: Fogdog says it
only wants the email addresses of your "friends," and
limits the number of addresses to a maximum of 25. And
since Fogdog sends the email, their own mail server
(and their staff) will deal with any complaints or
reaction. And the offer being sent includes a "gift
certificate" for $10 off at Fogdog. But it's still
Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE), and in my eyes that
still makes it Wrong.
What do other list members think about this? Am I
being too strict in my definition of improper email
marketing practices? Should I give up (again) and Just
Hit Delete when I get unwanted email? (I currently
"just hit delete" on 99% of the unwanted email I
receive, but this one irked me because it was a
publicly-traded company which otherwise seems to "get
-- Mark J. Welch, Former Editor & Publisher of Adbility.com
-- (925) 462-8483 voice - Pleasanton, California
Received on Tue Feb 29 2000 - 18:25:11 CST
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