I linked to Al’s post about misdirected emails and how annoying it is for people who receive emails. I’ve previously talked about the problems associated with not handling misdirected emails properly.
It’s really annoying getting email that you never signed up for. For instance, one of my email addresses gets quite a bit of misdirected email. Oddly enough, much of this mail comes addressed to “Mrs. Christine Stelfox” and advertises various services. The problem is, I’m not Mrs. Christine Stelfox and I don’t live in the UK.
I’ve been getting this misdirected email for a while. In fact, I’ve even tried to track down the source of this just to make it stop. But I can’t seem to get that to happen. The senders tell me simply that I opted in, and that if I want to opt-out, here’s a link. Sometimes I have more luck contacting ESPs, but not always.
In fact, recently I reported spam to Mrs. Stelfox to a European based ESP. I got a response from their delivery head, who asked a lot of questions about the email address. What kind of spamtrap was it? How long had I had it? Is it possible it’s a recycled address? It’s really not, though. It’s an address I’ve had since early 1994, and it’s not really a trap as I still actually use if for some me. But I’ve not used it for commercial email since sometime in the late ’90s. And I’ve certainly never claimed to be a Mrs. Stelfox.
This really isn’t a case where I forgot I signed up. This isn’t a case where someone had the address before me. This is either some confused person using my address or some company in the UK selling my email address as belonging to someone else. I’ve tried to track this down in the past to get off the list of whomever is selling this address. But I’ve never had any luck.
There isn’t a lot of recourse here. I can continue to unsubscribe the addresses, but that doesn’t resolve the underlying problem. The underlying problem is that many marketers think it’s acceptable to purchase (or append) email addresses with no regard for the fact that sometimes their data suppliers are wrong.
It’s not just this one address, either. Another one of my email addresses is being sold as “Mrs. Laura Corbishley” of the UK as well. Sometimes I get the same spam to Mrs. Christine Stelfox and Mrs. Laura Corbishley. Other times I get different spams to each address, possibly because Mrs. Stelfox is behind some commercial email filters and Mrs. Corbishley isn’t.
Misdirected emails are annoying. They’re a problem for the people who keep getting them and can’t make them stop. It’s really important that ESPs, companies that send email and companies that sell email addresses have some way to make that mail stop. It doesn’t matter that half a dozen ESPs have put Mrs. Stelfox in their suppression list. Senders are still purchasing that data and are wasting their money. I am still getting spam.