Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Last night I received some spam.
Hey, nothing unusual there, like most Net users I get my fair share of
emails promoting all manner of pills, potions and hair-brained "get rich quick"
We're quite lucky here in NZ insomuch as spam from local sources is usually
fairly rare and quickly stomped on by ISPs -- so this little solicitation
was quite a surprise.
It was even more of surprise to discover that the sender may well be NZ's
first spam-friendly ISP.
Yes, the TNZ Group Ltd
make no bones about being unrepentant spammers and a quick browser through
their Terms & Conditions should get
your pulse racing. For example:
"We and other TNZ Group companies may:
share your name, address and the telephone numbers allocated to you
with any person (except other network operators) using services provided by
any of us; this information may also be used in directories and other publicly
available publications and databases"
Their ISP Service
application form says nothing about restricting your right to spam and indeed,
if the actions of TNZ themselves are anything to go by, it's probably encouraged.
The only hint of an anti-spam sentiment I could find anywhere was the note that
"use our services for lawful purposes and without annoying anyone"
but I guess that doesn't apply to TNZ's own spamming activities.
It seems I wasn't the only one on TNZ's mailing list and I've since received
quite a few emails from Aardvark readers bitching about the spam-run.
So, this morning I rang TNZ and spoke to their General Manager Jared Hoyfong.
Jared says they sent out about 10,000 emails promoting their services.
When asked where he got those email addresses from, I was told that they
were "all legitimate addresses" because they'd been "advertised on the Net."
Gosh... there you go. If you "advertise" your email address on the Net then
you're really asking people to send you unsolicited commercial email -- so
don't complain about spam -- it's your own fault!
It was too soon, I was told, to determine what sort of response had been
received from the mailout. It seems that Jared had just arrived in at 9:05am
and hadn't yet checked his email.
I asked Jared if he knew that spamming was considered bad practice -- his
reply was "it depends on what you call spam."
I was assured that their mail-run wasn't really spam because it offered
people the ability to opt-out if they didn't want to receive more.
When asked whether TNZ would be spamming those on its list of email addresses
again I was told that it depended on the results achieved by this first
mailshot -- but those who opted out would not be bothered again.
At this point I queried Jared as to what research the company had done into
the advisability of using unsolicited bulk email as a marketing tool. He
told me that "we are an internet company" and therefore that they knew
about marketing on the Net.
TNZ appears to be completely unrepentant in their spamming and gave me
all the usual excuses that spammers offer:
Will other ISPs act to fry TNZ's arse? I don't know. It probably depends
on how many complaints they receive.
- it's not spam
- it's no spam because the company is "viable"
- it's not spam because you can opt-out
- etc, etc
It is somewhat worrying however that if the company's attitude and policies aren't
altered, TNZ could become a real haven for spammers and others who think that
bulk unsolicited commercial email is a valid online marketing tool.
Have your say.
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