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Fed-up bloke takes email spammers to court – and WINS PILE of CASH

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WTF?

Is he going to take his employers to court next

I had one of those 'surveys' from India a while ago. I asked who was sponsoring the survey and Sky was one of the companies he mentioned.

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Next case

Looks like his next case should be a libel case against the DMA then? If the judge had thrown the case out they probably could get away with claiming that, but given a judge has already rules his case has merit I think they'd struggle to justify calling him a troll.

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Self regulation

The DMA in effect acts as a self-regulator on many of these issues, and they also run the TPS (which is widely abused). Of course, putting marketers in charge of regulating themselves is a bit like putting a paedophile in charge of a school.

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h3

Re: Self regulation

Or Jimmy Saville in charge of Broadmoor ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self regulation

It's not "a bit" like putting a paedophile in charge of a school.

It's _exactly_ like putting a paedophile in charge of a school. Can't help themselves...

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Anonymous Coward

Sky News producer

+ unspecified damages

And the chance to win "unspecified damages" to Mr Nobody from Nowherebottom are?

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I like that they still state that they do not agree with the decision. Well, thats nice, but that's the law and they were breaking it. They can take the choice to not like the decision, they can't take the choice not to agree with it, especially when it is written so plainly and they are not appealing it. Isn't not agreeing with the decision actually contempt of court? You can express a dislike for a judges opinion, not sure you can flat out say you don't agree or accept it.

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Silver badge
Big Brother

"Isn't not agreeing with the decision actually contempt of court?"

IANAL, but I believe that would be not complying with the decision. I may be wrong, but I don't think courts have the authority to tell me how to think.

Yet.

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Unhappy

"but I don't think courts have the authority to tell me how to think."

No, that's the Government's and the Daily Mail's Job....

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't not agreeing with the decision actually contempt of court?

LOL, no, you are fully entitled to expressing an opinion. What you are not allowed to do is act as if it hasn't happened and repeat the offence because that gets very, very dicey indeed.

Personally I would like to do this too (plenty of candidates), but I don't have the time :(.

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Silver badge

as spam offences go

I.think this one scores about 0.5 on a scale from one to ten. Still, one shouldn't deny a bloke his hobby and the standing up in court bit is kinda fun.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

I'd like to label "Dela Quist, who appears to be the CEO of a "digital marketing agency with a 100% focus on email" as a bit of a cunt.

Hope that's OK, Dela.

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Silver badge

Re: Hmmm

Well according to glassdoor a couple of his employees think he is.

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Alert

Re: Hmmm

Of course it is ok - I take that is a compliment, because it means at the very least you consider me your equal. #It_takes_one_to_know_one

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Anonymous Coward

Its spam but ...

... 99% of my spam is not from legit companies like John Lewis so there isn't much you can do.

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Gav
Silver badge
Unhappy

Easy Target

Yes. This seems to be an exercise in punishing a mostly responsible and legit company, while doing nothing to discourage the more flagrant abuse from criminals, conmen, counterfeiters and general scum that are the real problem. I suppose John Lewis was an easy target.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Easy Target

Yes and no. Yes for JL being an easy target (but that should have made it even less likely they screwed up, but they did), no for not doing the exercise. This builds reference that will ensure that even the dissenting DMA will get more careful.

Amusingly, this quick-to-comment CEO seems to have forgotten that one of the problems with commenting on a case like this is that you thus acknowledge you have seen it - which removes any excuse of the organisation for not advising its members to avoid making a similar mistake. So thank you, Mrs CEO, thank you very much. It means DMA members are now deemed to break the rules deliberately if they spam, which will make the next convictions so much more rewarding as that comment can be used in evidence.. Oops (wide, evil grin)..

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Re: Its spam but ...

> 99% of my spam is not from legit companies like John Lewis

That used to be the case for me, but it has changed over the last few years. Now, after filtering, the spam that gets to my inbox is primarily from "legitimate" companies that I have done business with in the (distant) past and who have at some point "forgotten" that I didn't want to be spammed. I'm unlikely to sue them, but there is no chance that they will ever get any business from me in the future.

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Re: Easy Target

The law is clearly written and easy to follow (amazingly so, am I still on planet Earth?). The advice in the supplied brochure even more so (DO NOT pre-check the opt in box). This is easy compliance. John Lewis didn't do so.

Were they an easy target? Yes, but only because they chose to be one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Its spam but ...

That used to be the case for me, but it has changed over the last few years. Now, after filtering, the spam that gets to my inbox is primarily from "legitimate" companies that I have done business with in the (distant) past and who have at some point "forgotten" that I didn't want to be spammed. I'm unlikely to sue them, but there is no chance that they will ever get any business from me in the future.

I am inclined to give "legitimate" companies a chance to change their ways, which typically takes the shape of me mining a decent contact address and forwarding the offending email plus a template that declares that I have a policy of explicitly opting out, so I ask for evidence of where I agreed. This tends to work in about 90% of cases.

Weirdly, the most aggressive actor against marketing abuse was Oracle. When I started to receive junk from them, I tried opting out (mainly for a laugh, and then repeated it the next month for good measure). I then forwarded it into their legal department with the question why their unsubscribe didn't work, and they actually went to town on it, keeping me informed along the way. In the end it turned out that a mass emailer wasn't updating their target list as they contractually should. Now, I am professionally not an Oracle client (and not exactly a fan of their CEO), but that seriously impressed me.

Oh, and as for the residual - yup, once we have analysed it was indeed wilful spam they get blacklisted as suppliers.

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Re: Its spam but ...

Generally legit companies have unsubscribe links that work, a few clicks you get a lot less spam. Just make sure it is a legit company, otherwise you just told a spamer that they have a live email address.

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ICO and ASA seem to be backing off in this area...

I notice that both the ICO and the ASA now ask you to try to contact the spammer before they'll act on any complaint and will then only do so if you continue to be spammed after contact has been made.

In practice this means that unless you're prepared to go to court, the default position as far as the toothless regulators is concerned appears to be that opt-in without consent is perfectly fine with them as long as an opt-out is later available.

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WTF?

Re: ICO and ASA seem to be backing off in this area...

so the ICO and ASA want you to validate your email address to spammers.

I really do think IQ levels are falling worldwide.

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Re: ICO and ASA seem to be backing off in this area...

Not validating my addresses with spammers has never seemed to do anything to stem the tide. I've often heard suggestions that confirming a working address makes it a more valuable commodity but I'm skeptical about the whole thing since I suspect blanketing every address available is more cost effective than being picky.

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Gold badge

voluntarily ???

"Mr Mansfield voluntarily gave us his email address..."

Bollocks. You forced him to do it, just so he could find out if he could have a home delivery. In addition, you probably forced him to do it, just so that you could harvest his email address to illegally spam him.

It is a shame that the judge award "unspecified damages". I'd suggest 1 week chained to railings in public, with a rule that "anything goes". "unspecified damages" probably isn't a sufficient deterrant, whereas boiling tar over the testicles might be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: voluntarily ???

A quick question re this instance - was there a means (through the emails he was sent) to stop receiving the spam?

If there wasn't JL should be given a second slapping, if there was then then did Mr Mansfield take action after the first, the second, or third spam email, or just once he'd worked up sufficient indignation to generate a news story for his employer?

(edit)

Strike "employer" - make that for his "own programmes", (as I see he's a producer for Sky news)

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Megaphone

Re: voluntarily ???

That reminds me of the Virgin Media trick of requiring your postcode to check whether you can get their cable server, after which you'll be forever spammed with junk mail offering their overpriced bundled crap. They even put them in plain (sometimes official looking brown) paper envelopes so you're more likely to be fooled in to opening them.

When I tried to report them to the ICO I was told they couldn't help because it's all addressed to "The Householder" and not anyone specific. Frickin' useless!

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Re: voluntarily ???

I get a lot of named , and unnamed for Virgin Media. Since contacting the appropriate department to stop it involves a) reading some very small print, and b) telephoning someone and probably pay for that luxury - its easier to drop it in the bin and recycle. (though as I hear the council don't like envelopes in the recycle, perhaps I should save them all up together and post them back to VM en masse)

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Re: voluntarily ???

I'll tell you how to stop that.

Get the company CEO's email address from http://www.ceoemail.com/

Email him explaining that you consider the constant bombardment of letters as harassment under the terms of the harassment act and if they don't cease immediately, you will issue proceedings against him personally as the person in charge of the company harassing you.

I did, and he crapped himself and stopped the junk mail very quickly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: voluntarily ???

Always save up your paper junk mail and post it back. Use the supplied FREEPOST envelope. Then stuff it with other junk mail from your letterbox. Pizza Menus, estate agent adverts, the lot. Then tape the lot to a couple of out of date copies of Yellow Pages. Or just a brick or two. And drop off at the Post Office.

Ideally make that parcel up so it steps up a few levels in the postal costs.

Send them as much junk as they send you and they do eventually stop. I know this works with Barclaycard and Sky as they seem to have stopped posting their junk to me now.

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Rol

Re: voluntarily ???

Yep, Not ten minutes ago I was knee deep in moneysupermarket's compare electricity providers, which wanted my full address and email before they would show me the results of the comparison.

I'd rather keep whipping the mice on the wheel to go faster than open myself up to a torrent of unwanted mail.

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Re: voluntarily ???

Not en masse - one by one without a stamp

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h3

Re: voluntarily ???

I use a variant of that but stones or soil (And I basically never get any junk mail any more).

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Re: voluntarily ???

Not anything goes. Rotten tomatoes, rotten eggs, spoiled tomato juice, that sort of thing. Except instead of 1 week, I'd make it 1 week per unsolicited email sent.

Not sure yet whether "email sent" would be for the case, or in total from their marketing campaign.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: voluntarily ???

Sometimes the "means to stop receiving spam" links use a third party domain (often backed by an Oracle (arseholes) subsidiary) that has no relevance to the sending domain.

eg somecompany.com sends marketing email to "customers", with opt out links going to (generally) en24.com.

The only way to know it's not a phishing attack is by knowing en24.com is oracle tracking domain.

(so a low grade phishing attack after all :/)

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Re: voluntarily ???

"They even put them in plain (sometimes official looking brown) paper envelopes so you're more likely to be fooled in to opening them."

I had a few stern words to our Australian Tax Office who LOVES those plain brown envelopes with "URGENT" marked on the front (along with no "from" address either).

I said, that was nice, but it appears every junk mailer on the planet had the same idea. So, if they didn't want me to "accidently" throw out their unmarked mail, to change that.

They explained that statistically, more people would handle the mail unmarked, rather than throw it away knowing it was from the ATO.

So that's why junk mail works. We're surrounded by idiots.

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Re: voluntarily ???

Friend of mine used to send bits and pieces of leftover sheet metal, iron or lead, wrapped in "promotional" junkmail. Once was usually enough.

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Re: voluntarily ???

As a former member of the Mark Thomas mailing list, I can confirm that, for junk snail mail, using the enclosed prepaid envelope to send them a breeze block can be very effective, especially when the bloke in the Post Office says 'Bloody serve em right, I'm going to do that myself in future!'

Another trick I used to employ in my misspent youth was to send all the Readers Digest bumf ro NatGeo in their reply envelope and vice versa.

Chucking it in the bin costs em nothing. Returned reply paid envelopes they have to pay for.

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Unhappy

Re: voluntarily ???

a/c wrote :- "Always save up your paper junk mail and post it back. Use the supplied FREEPOST envelope. Then stuff it with other junk mail from your letterbox. Pizza Menus, estate agent adverts, the lot."

That only works if they do enclose a Freepost envelope or give a Freepost address, but only about 25% of my junk mail does. Sure, they get the other 75% back enclosed with their own. The other stuff generally wants you to respond through their website or to a phone number.

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WTF?

Nuno trancosoRe: voluntarily ???

Wrote :- "Friend of mine used to send bits and pieces of leftover sheet metal, iron or lead".

Lead? That is a valuable metal these days. They will be cashing it in at the scrap metal dealers. What's wrong with roofing slate?

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Anonymous Coward

Pot calling kettle

I cancelled my contract with Sky and had a leaflet a month from Sky asking me to go back to them. My choice of not recieving direct marketing from them was clearly selected. No phone number available to call, no address and no email address to contact them on. I eventually tracked down an email address through a forum and sent several emails to them. Posting messages on their public forums had no effect either.

They are without doubt the worst company I have ever dealt with for sending junk to ex customers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pot calling kettle

Find their new business contact email, then set up a rule in your inbox forwarding all email to that address and then deleting your copy (and if your client allows it, an explanatory note accompanying it).

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Silver badge

Re: Pot calling kettle

They are without doubt the worst company I have ever dealt with for sending junk to ex customers.

Not to mention calling you trying to get you to re-subscribe. Repeatedly. At all hours.

Still not convinced they're the worst. I think first place goes to VM with existing customers. Seriously they waste so much money on direct (and in the indirect "To household...") marketing at existing customers that it must hit their bottom line.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pot calling kettle

And thanks to fax to email and back again, we redirected all our spam faxes back to the agency providing the service. 2 weeks later, no more spam faxes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pot calling kettle

> I cancelled my contract with Sky and [blah]

How does the fact that one of the parties was/is employed by this company you mention have any bearing whatsoever on the story? Is he the Director of Unsolicited Marketing Mass Emailing and Other Annoying Stuff over there or what?

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Re: Pot calling kettle

"then set up a rule in your inbox forwarding all email to that address"

Note, that the vast majority of email from those addresses quote "do not reply". That is, you can send stuff to that address, but no-one will see it, count it, or even store it for longer than a piece of software needs to determine it isn't valid and then delete it.

If it's an official quoted email address, you can be sure it's properly vetted for spam, out of context content, and a vast array of other filters before it even gets to a human. And even THEN there's no bet they'll respond. (though some companies are better than others).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pot calling kettle

I eventually tracked down an email address through a forum and sent several emails to them. Posting messages on their public forums had no effect either.

As long as they don't get anything that you can prove they will ignore you. However, I once sent them an address update, and it all stopped. What I forgot to tell them was that it wasn't my address, but the ICO's. Oops :)

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...

“Data Directive litigation troll”.

Better a data directive litigation troll than a marketing troll. The worst of the worst. And yes, he should sue them for liable.

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Joke

Data Directive litigation troll

Is that like a film noir troll?

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So the ICO's guidance contradicts the law

But the judge went with the guidance, not the law. Reversal on appeal, assuming the next judge understands the law

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