UPDATED: InfoUSA.com Email Fiasco

Feb 15, 2011 by

UPDATE Feb. 16, 11:10 a.m: We finally received a call from Tami Kruse, a sales manager at InfoUSA.com.   After some clarifications, and a good customer service call on her part, we’ve worked things out. (Also don’t miss the case study we’ve written about this incident.)

Apology accepted and they’ve made an overture to make up for the trouble this has caused.

So if you keep reading, please keep in mind, that while it took them 26 hours to get back to us, they did reply and have tried to make things right.  Hopefully in 3-4 months we’ll be able to report back here that we’ve been using their product and that it’s been an effective tool in growing our business.  While she was selling InfoUSA.com, we also were reminding her that ClaxtonCreative.com is in the crisis management business and there are somethings they need to be working on as well in case this ever happens again.  Maybe, just maybe, they’d consider working with us, too.

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On Saturday, trying to develop a way to create new business leads, we registered with InfoUSA.com and narrowed down a selection of options we’d consider in a direct mailing campaign. We are a Dallas public relations firm and trying to grow our business by helping clients with PR, book publicity, social media strategies, and school district public relations.

Within two minutes of hitting submit on the InfoUSA.com Website, our office phones were ringing.  If we had wanted to talk to them, we would have called them in the first place. We didn’t answer.

Then yesterday, we received another call.  Within two minutes of that call, we also received an email from Account Manager Jeff Gunther.  We let him know that when/if we need them, we’ll let them know.

This morning at 8:22 a.m. CST, we received an email from Orlando Vera. His email was sent to us and 736 other recent businesses or people who have apparently registered in the InfoUSA.com system.  How do we know it went to 737 people?  Simple.  Orlando Vera sent it out CC instead of BCC to all of us.

Our Initial Response

First we sent Mr. Gunther a nastygram.  Then we sent one to Orlando Vera and copied the other 736 people on the list and said:

Orlando Vera,

I do not at all appreciate your compromising my business strategies by sending out my email address with all these other contacts.  I doubt they do either.  Personally, I think we now all should be entitled to at least two month’s worth of free services from your company because of this compromise.  Not to mention a letter of apology.

I’m trying to run a PR and social media company in Dallas.   Like my counterparts on this list, we all now have to wonder if any of our competitors also are on this list.  And since there are more than 700 people, that’s going to take a little bit of time to figure out.  Please enact stricter policies about how you send out emails.  If you need some help with setting that up, fixing your public relations mess you just created, or doing some social media damage control, please feel free to contact my company.

DC

That email went out at 8:57 a.m. CST. As of time of publishing, 10:24 a.m., we’ve not received any response or phone calls within two minutes from InfoUSA.com.

But we are getting other messages from some of the other recipients:

I am a consumer who registered with InfoUSA because I couldn’t find any other way to contact them to be removed from their mailing list.

InfoUSA ignored the fact that I registered on the National Do Not Mail list at DMAchoice.org more than 5 months ago.  They continued to sell my information and I finally found out it was InfoUSA because one of the companies that sent me mail told me where they bought my information.

I am trying very hard to reduce my impact on the environment and it is extremely frustrating to get paper mail from companies I’ve never heard of in spite of all the steps I take to prevent it.

I recommend that all of you use a different marketing company that is more respectful of your consumers’ mailing preferences – you will end up annoying less of your potential customer base.

Orlando – thanks for including everyone’s email address in the “To” field so I can get the message out.  Next time maybe you’ll use the BCC field.  😉

Sincerely,
-Janie Pumphrey

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Hi Donald,

If Orlando can actually manage over 700 new client accounts, maybe one of us should hire Orlando.  Amazing.

This is exactly why I use a dummy email account when I’m reviewing new marketing options.

Regards,

Owner Collaborative Quality Systems

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Mr. Vera,

I completely agree with Mr. Claxton.  And wish to thank Mr. Claxton for pointing this out to you.

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Those are just the beginning.  We’re going to publish this piece now and update it throughout the day.  Please feel free to forward this link to as many other business friends as you like.  You might also offer the InfoUSA.com listing to your competitors.  Or maybe not.  Karma, don’t you know.

We’ve offered InfoUSA.com a chance to respond, yet they’ve been silent.  We still think several months of their services for free would be nice, but from the way Janie Pumphrey’s email reads, that’s the last thing we’d want to do.


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1 Comment

  1. Ron

    Great. I just set up an account with infousa.com and attempted to set up an email campaign. After doing all the preliminary stuff, I found myself on the “test email” step. In this step, all you have to do is put in an email account you would like to have a test email sent to, and then hit “send test email.”

    Well after several attempts and over an hour, none of my test emails showed up. Funny thing is, within seconds of EACH test a notification would show up in my account email, advising that if my test email didn’t arrive I should contact one of their “email experts” via phone. WTF! Really. You need an “expert” to tell you how to type in your email address and click a button? Instantly pissed. Obviously just creating an opportunity to capture/verify your phone number for re-sale and perhaps try to talk you into other services once you call (and of course – continue to call after the fact).

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