Praise for Thomson Local
Last week I mentioned someone had started receiving unsolicited e-mails from Thomson Local after cancelling the company's directory via Junk Buster. Thomson Local was quick to respond, and it turns out that it was merely a technical issue.
When you cancel the Thomson Local directory via Junk Buster the application sends a standard e-mail to the company:
From: [ your e-mail address ]
Subject: Opt out request
Dear Sir or Madam,
My household wishes to opt out of receiving the paper version of the Thomson Local directory. Please could you ensure that the directory is no longer delivered to my address:
[ your name and address ]
On an average day Junk Buster sends about ten such e-mails to Thomson Local. (At times when junk mail is in the news this figure is much higher. For instance, when the Daily Mail launched another attack on junk mail last month Junk Buster fired off 614 opt-out e-mails to Thomson Local in just two days.) To deal with the e-mails Thomson Local's e-mail system looks out for e-mails with 'Opt out request' as the subject, and all those e-mails are automatically acknowledged with the following standard e-mail:
To: [ your e-mail address ]
Subject: Re: Opt out request
Thank you for contacting thomsonLocal.com. We understand that you do not wish to receive a hard copy of the directory. However, we can continue to help you to find what you need locally;-
- If you have an iphone - the free thomsonLocal.com app can be downloaded from the iPhone app store, simply go to the app store and search for thomsonlocal.com
- If you have an android phone - The thomsonlocal.com app can be downloaded for free by going to the android Market and searching for thomsonlocal.com.
- If you have a nokia phone - The thomsonlocal.com app can be downloaded for free from the Nokia Ovi store by clicking here: http://store.ovi.com/publisher/thomsonlocal.com/
Alternatively, we provide an online service with www.thomsonlocal.com
The person who accused Thomson Local of spamming had received four such e-mails. The reason was that Thomson Local's e-mails were being sent with a read receipt and that these receipts somehow came back with 'Opt out request' still as the subject. Thomson Local's system therefore automatically sent another standard confirmation e-mail, creating a true e-mail pendulum. They've now solved the problem and have contacted the recipient of all the 'spam'.
It's good to see Thomson Local is actually making an effort to deal with opt-out e-mails it receives. They don't always get it right (remember the 'No Thomson Local' sticker?) and I reckon the standard e-mail should explicitly mention that your address has been taken off the distribution list - the e-mail doesn't confirm this and does read like a marketing e-mail. But, at least they're making an effort. That's not something you could say about
Yell Hibu and in particular BT - both companies still find it very difficult to respect people's wishes. Thomson Local is past that stage; they seem to genuinely understand that not everybody is interested in unsolicited directories.
While discussing the issue with the e-mails I asked them how long a Thomson Local opt-out registration lasts nowadays. The answer is indefinitely. They said that they used to ask people from time to time whether or not they still wanted to be opted out.
You can imagine the sort of responses we got, they said. Well done to Thomson Local for listening to people (and not hiding behind ignorant statements by the Data Publishers Association).
Return to sender revolt
Charities were (not for the first time) accused of putting pressure on people with little or no money to spare to donate money to good causes. The criticism came from the Scottish Women's Rural Institute - itself a charity.
Apparently, the SWRI unanimously passed a motion earlier year this calling on its 20,000 members to deplore the practice. They then contacted the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator who told them politely that charities may target as many vulnerable people as they like. They're now
urging its members to simply return the mail to the sender.
Or, at least that's how the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald has interpreted the SWRI's advice. There's nothing about the junk mail revolt on the SWRI website but the paper quotes the charity as saying:
Our advice, therefore, would be for anyone who receives these letters to write back to the charity and state that they want to be removed for their mailing list. We feel disappointed that there is nothing more that can be done, but if enough people make it clear that this type of mail is not wanted or appreciated, it will send a loud and clear message.
It's worth noting that writing to individual charities isn't the same as returning junk mail. If SWRI members really want to send letters or e-mails to charities they should at least send them a proper data protection notice. It's sad, but it's the only way to ensure the message really comes across
loud and clear.
Speaking of returning unwanted junk mail to senders - I finally got return to sender stampers in the shop again!