Spam from InformationWeek: What Part of “No” Don’t You Get?

Among the truths I believe should be self-evident is that when a customer says “No, thank you, I don’t want any more,” the provider should acknowledge this and stop marketing to the customer.

I know this doesn’t always happen, but my expectations are higher for providers in the technology industry, particularly so for publishers whose content includes newsletters on IT policies and best practices, as well as network and data security.

Which is why I am so absolutely frustrated with Information Week and their publisher, United Business Media. Several years ago I made the mistake of accepting a free subscription to the paper version of InfoWeek and giving them my email address. It’s been impossible to extricate myself from their calling and mailing lists ever since. I cancelled my paper subscription a couple of years ago, which resulted in ongoing written renewal campaigns, emails, and finally a series of nearly-stalking phone calls. It got so that I recognized the phone number and refused to answer their calls. Finally, they stopped calling me.

However, this seems to be like the Hotel California: You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave. Recently I found myself on several UBM mailing lists, including one for Dark Reading, which is focused on database security. This e-newsletter includes the standard CAN-SPAM unsubscription notice, which takes me to a webpage that allows me to unsubscribe. I then get a message that I will be unsubscribed shortly, but I may still receive one more weekly newsletter.

This has been going on for months. I have completed the unsubscribe process no less than 4 times, to no avail. In fact, yesterday I commented on Chad Barr’s blog about this process.

Just for spite, a paper renewal form for Information Week showed up in my mailbox yesterday (please tell me they are kidding). And guess what showed up in my email today! That’s right–another copy of the Dark Reading newsletter.

So what started out as something I was mildly uninterested in has turned into communications that really irk me, to the point where I am now blogging about them by name. I wonder if the UBM folks actually track and read comments in the blogosphere about themselves–or are they too busy trying to figure out how to ignore legitimate requests to unsubscribe to their publications?

The lesson for the rest of us is listen to your customers. No, means no–not yes or maybe or I was only kidding. Not listening to what your customers are telling you is the best way to turn a “No, not now” into “No, not ever, in your wildest dreams.”

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27 Responses to Spam from InformationWeek: What Part of “No” Don’t You Get?

  1. Nathan says:

    Me too! Stupid filthy spammers. They email, snail mail, and call me, and I’ve never encouraged them in any way.

  2. Jay says:

    I must have said no and filled out their unsubscribe link over 10 times in the last 6 months and still I get a email from them almost weekly. Although they promise to stop within 10 days. Informationweek sucks.

  3. Aaron says:

    Ditto. Been going on for a year now. It started when I actually accepted the invitation, applied for my “free subscription” and they responded that I was not “qualified” to recieve it, but could purchase one. I said no and have been harrased via email ever since… Unsubscribed countless times.

  4. Justin says:

    I was in a similar situation – I had tried everything yet the spam continued. I finally reported them to the FTC and the BBB. They responded to the BBB complaint and the spam stopped immediately!

  5. Mikey Cooper says:

    They’re getting around the usual unsubscribe model that legitimate operations use by assigning nearly every email you’ll receive a new category. “Research Study”, “Industry Report”, “Marketing Communication”, “News about the link between monitors and dental caries”. The unsubscribe link at the bottom of each email only unsubscribes you from that category of email and there’s no option/link on the page to unsub from ALL emails.
    A UMB-wide unsubscribe method does exist. It’s just buried in their Privacy notice page:
    http://www.ubmtechllcoptout.com/ars/optout1.do?mode=optout&forward=optoutpagespecial&T=CT&F=5907&K=PVYPGE
    Hopefully that gets me off their radar forever. I’m sick of getting spam/phone calls from these a-holes.

  6. Vb says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m sick of getting spam from them as well. Hopefully the link posted by Mikey will stop this once and for all.

  7. Ian Bowman says:

    Same problem here and it pisses me off so much. Thanks for this post and I’ll try Mikey’s link.

  8. AG says:

    Thank you, Mikey!!

  9. AG says:

    Actually, when I tried Mikey’s link, it kept giving me error messages when it tried to process my request.

  10. Bob Aman says:

    Same here. Fortunately Gmail just marks it all as spam now.

  11. Ben PC says:

    Thank you Mikey (and of course Linda). Worked for me. Well, the link did. Now to see whether the unsubscription request is honoured…

  12. Vikram Desai says:

    I say, let’s try and find out the e-mail address of their CEO and auto-forward every incoming mail from InformationWeek to him/her.

  13. David says:

    Gawd, they are unbelievable! Be sure to forward all their emails and cc: yours to them to spam@uce.gov. I tried the UBM unsubscribe link that Mikey gave, but entering my email returned, “We are unable to process your order at this time. Please contact customer service at (800) 577-5356.
    We apologize for this inconvenience.” Maybe I’ll hire a telemarketing co. to call that number every 5 minutes for the next year.

  14. Tom says:

    I have been trying to get off their lists for over 3 years now, and finally gave up and just send them to spam. But I assure you that I will NEVER EVER buy anything from them or use their products. That is the lesson that all Spammers can take away from this. All you do is piss off and lose potential customers (and their friends and family!)

  15. john says:

    I am BEYOND the point of sick to death with these a-holes. I have just set up a rule in my mac mail as described here http://email.about.com/od/macosxmailtips/qt/How_to_Block_a_Sender_in_Mac_OS_X_Mail.htm except instead of auto delete it redirects the mail to spam@uce.gov as David pointed out.
    Now every piece of spam will bypass my inbox and go straight to the FTC. I recommend everyone do the equivalent of this because (1) you’ll never have to see that address in your inbox and (2) a river of spam will flow directly to the FTC who may then act upon it.

  16. Pat says:

    I can’t believe how many times I have tried to unsubscribe from these spammers. But here is what you do…forward their emails (just once) to your technology colleagues and warn them of this practice.
    They used to live by referrals,this can help kill that process. Keep blogging about their spam as much as you are able. Go grassroots!

  17. Union Square says:

    I encourage everyone to file a BBB complaint – not that it will help.
    http://www.bbb.org/new-york-city/business-reviews/publishers-periodical/cmp-media-inc-in-manhasset-ny-18346
    I have been trying for over 3 years to unsubscribe from their email and magazines. I took the extraordinary step of emailing their editor and every published email address on their website.
    I was told my information was “suppressed” in their system. I continue to receive their publications.
    They are slow to respond to complaints – taking advantage of the 30 day response time the BBB allows.
    Their CPO sent me the below response – I love how she feels I am better served remaining on these lists, despite her company’s utter incompetence.
    As a side note I just received (and promptly shredded) the latest EE Times. Way to go morons!
    ———————————
    Dear Mr. :
    Nothing in the law requires that UBM delete your email addresses from out suppression lists. To the contracry, we believe that you are better served by remaining on the lists. From time to time, UBM may partner with a reputable sponsor to provide what we hope is useful information to individuals in the form of webinars, co-branded programs, and the like. The partner will often send an email invitation to its own lists. We ask the partner to run our suppression lists prior to its campaign so that we can honor the opt out requests of people, like you, who are no longer on our lists but may be on the partner’s list.
    The CAN SPAM law leaves enforcement to regulators and states’ attorneys general for several reasons. First, the aggravation that an individual may sustain from legitimate B2B email, though problematic, is simply not sufficient to envoke the powers of the courts. Regulators may, however, use that power in the cases of repeated or egregious practices. Second, and equally important. an individual has a variety of tools to block unwanted email from his or her email box. We hope that we have resolved the problem and that Mr. Cooper does not have any opportunity to use those spam filters for UBM, but suggest that he consider the mechanism just to be sure.
    We do regret the inconvenience and agita that our emails have caused. I invite Mr. Cooper to contact me directly if he continues to receive emails from UBM LLC or if he can produce the mailing labels from unwanted print materials.
    Ruth Day
    CPO, UBM Inc.

  18. Bob Bobson says:

    Mikey Cooper is correct; the unsubscription link they provide in each message is unique to that specific message. The URL has a different ID GET field in each email they send.
    Basically all it does is to allow you to say “don’t send me this message anymore”. This is obviously completely pointless since they have no intention of sending that same message again; they will send *other* messages.
    What’s worse, is that I had a free print subscriptions to both InformationWeek and TechWeb, and a digital subscription to Dr. Dobb’s Journal. I always use email aliases for everything so that I can track spam, and so I get THREE copies of every message they send!
    At one point, I was so sick and tired of getting their emails all the time, what I did was to write a batch file that would fetch the unsubscription page, sending my email address(s) and a different ID field, looping through 0-10000 in an attempt to unsubscribe me from every message they have, present and future.
    Today, I got more emails from them and decide to track down the parent company and see if I can unsubscribe gloabally or something. Like Mikey, I found the “UBM-wide opt out link” (https://www.cmpadministration.com/ars/optout1.do?mode=optout&forward=optoutpagespecial&T=CT&F=5907&K=PVYPGE) buried in their Privacy Policy page (http://legal.us.ubm.com/privacy-policy/).
    Sadly, when I tried to enter my email address in the field, Chrome offered to autofill in my addresses, so I have probably already used it in the past. I submitted each address again, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

  19. Har says:

    information week is nothing but bunch of jerks sending out spam week after week after unsubscribing every time again and again

  20. Tom Vipova says:

    I called this person at UBM and she helped me.
    Amy McVicar
    Director of Database Operations & Audience Marketing at UBM TechWeb
    Phone: 415-947-6853
    Email: AMcVicar@techweb.com

  21. An IT Pro says:

    I have the exact same problem, endless spam and asking to be removed is fruitless. Complaints to the publisher go unanswered, but the spam continues. What I’m doing is complaining to their advertisers. Information Week views me as their “product” that they sell to advertisers. The only way to get UBM to listen is through their advertisers.
    This is the email I am sending:
    Dear ,
    The reason for my contacting you today is to inform you how your advertisements in Information Week are viewed by IT professionals. Information Week has for sometime embarked on a spamming campaign of their former readers. In the past Information Week was a quality magazine, but over the years the quality of has declined to a point where their articles are poorly written and irrelevant. I have requested numerous times to be removed from their mailing list with zero success. If you wish to see others with similar opinions google “information week spam”
    Your association with a spammer reflects poorly on your good company name. UBM TechWeb properties are a poor place for your advertising dollars, and your adds there certainly do not influence me in a positive manner.
    Best regards,
    An IT Professional

  22. Scott Vaughan says:

    I wanted to acknowledge and respond to the complaints posted here. It Is not fun hearing this kind of feedback and clearly we can and will do a better job. This is not the brand promise or experience that InformationWeek or UBM provides to its customers for the decades we have been serving professionals. Although you can opt out of all UBM LLC marketing emails through a link in the Privacy Policy, we clearly have not done enough. Because we’ve heard you that quick, clear control of your e-mail preferences are important, we are immediately making changes to our unsubscribe and preferences management systems so users can control what and how they want to receive requested information. You’ll see these launch on our sites in the next few weeks.
    Upset customers is not the way we want to receive feedback, but we have heard you and are thinking differently about feedback mechanisms. We serve over 4 million IT pros, a significant majority of which are very satisfied. As we make these changes, if you have feedback, if anybody needs assistance, you can contact me at scott.vaughan@UBM.com and I will personally take care of full, immediate suppression. We hope to earn back your trust and truly apologize for causing unnecessary angst.
    Scott Vaughan
    CMO, UBM TechWeb/InformationWeek

  23. An IT Pro says:

    Scott,
    I’ll believe you’ve gotten a new attitude when my inbox is free of your spam. I’ve tried to opt out in every way I could find. If there is an opt out on the privacy page it certainly isn’t obvious.
    How about posting a link here for everyone that wants to be free of UMB spam. Don’t make us look for it and don’t make your readers come begging you personally to be free.
    Finally, I will take it as a compliment that my post generated such a quick response, where the others had no response at all. I wish I could take credit for figuring out how the system works, what with me being nothing more than “bacon” you sell to your advertisers. My happiness is irrelevant as long as I only complain about you, but let anyone complain to your advertisers, now THAT gets action. The comic on this link is where I learned that:
    http://consumerist.com/2011/09/how-free-really-works-online.html
    Just replace facebook with UMB. Unfortunately this is the world we live in, I look forward to that link.

  24. dmac says:

    Just want to add my 2 cents. Been trying to get off every flipping email list they’ve sent me for months. I’ve desperately tried to “unsubscribe” from each and every one of them with no success. Based on some above suggestions I just went to their Privacy Policy page and used the Company Wide Opt out method. I’m not too hopeful I’ll have success. But hey, it’s worth a shot. I feel like having to add a company like InformationWeek to my SPAM list in Gmail is absolutely insane. Why is it that the mom and pop shops out there can honor simple requests to remove you but this company can’t. The OP was spot on. They lecture us about Email etiquette and privacy policy through their print media, yet follow nothing of the sort. Quite disgraceful in this age of tech.

  25. I would just like to add that I tried to complain via their customer service web form. It wanted my name, business name & address, phone, and fax number. When I wouldn’t fill out ALL of the fields, because I don’t think they need all of my info, it wouldn’t let me submit the form. How is my fax # required info? So they can send me endless faxes in addition to the paper & email newsletters? Tried the company opt-out link posted above… *fingers crossed*

  26. I agree to you,in Finland country most of the people annoy when someone do that to them,most of them are telemarketer,however in part of Helsinki those things are consider to avoid bad images.

  27. Everyone loves it when folks come together and share views. Great blog, stick with it!

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