Ken Magill, celebrity, has two articles today that highlight the issue with buying lists from vendors. The first is yet another article about EmailAppenders selling bad data. In this case, it is not the buyers who are complaining. According to Ken EmailAppenders are sending out email advertising they can sell Internet Retailer’s list of 2008 conference attendees. Internet Retailer is disputing this and has sent EmailAppenders a cease and desist. EmailAppenders is currently dodging Ken’s attempts to get their side of the story.
The second is an article about Zoominfo, a new group in the list selling business. Zoominfo has long been harvesting information from other sites. Now, they are offering to sell their scraped and harvested list. Their only requirement is that the buyer sign an agreement to comply with CAN SPAM. And, yes, if someone is dumb enough to buy this harvested list, they should comply with CAN SPAM as sending mail to a harvested list triggers additional penalties if or when the FTC decides to go after the sender.
Not only are Zoominfo harvesting data, they are harvesting from ancient and obscure sources. They have no current information for me, but they managed to find an email address for a job I left in 1993. They have Steve listed as an employee of “postgreSQL INC” because they harvested the postgres mailing list archives. Mickey pointed out one of Zoominfo’s sources is http://free-personal-ads-wanted-sex-partner-near-hays-kansas.themasterwithin.ca/arch/4/. You do not even need to visit that site, just look at the URL!
Zoominfo’s VP and general manager claims they send emails to people regularly, offering them the chance to opt-out. First of all, I have never received one of these, have any of you? Secondly, some of the addresses are so old opt-outs are not relevant. Finally, unless they are monitoring their delivery, which I strongly doubt given their business model, anyone buying addresses from them is going to buy lots of dead addresses. And spamtraps. Lots of spamtraps.
I am sure that people who buy and sell lists regularly will tell me that these are outliers and that most companies who sell lists have higher data collection standards. My experience suggests that these are middle of the road list brokers. They are companies who are willing to sell anything with an @ sign in it and do not care about how sending to that data affects their customers.