|Received:||3/22/2004 1:44:20 PM|
|Organization:||US Email Service|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
I would like to relate my experience in the management of two email autoresponder companies, the first E-Business Management Counselors, Inc., and the second, the one I own and manage now, US Email Service. EBMCI had a website called www.talking-e-mail.com which offered audio autoresponders. During the time that the California and Washington state Anti-Spam laws were making headlines, I was determined to do everything possible to put EBMCI in compliance. As you know, the primary method of notification of commercial email in those laws was the use of the letters ADV: at the start of the Subject line in a commercial email. We implemented that requirement on all our email. Unfortunately, at just about the same time, the first anti-spam software was being implemented by major ISP’s. Guess what one of the first ‘test’ criteria was? Yep, look for ‘ADV:’ in the Subject. I offer this in response to your comment in the USAA Magazine that, “only 2 percent of the 1,000 spam messages we reviewed for the report had the abbreviation ADV in the subject line….” Putting that one line into the EBMCI email, which was not spam since it went to opt-in lists only, put the company out of business. This, despite being in compliance with the law. A sad fact. If the FTC imposes a similar requirement to denote commercial email, it should also proactively prevent ISP’s and other online companies from filtering out that email as spam, since the spammers ignore such a method entirely. Spammers do not care what the law says. The heavy hitters are using offshore computers and illegally bouncing off legitimate servers all over the world. They know they are breaking the law, so why should they fake compliance? Let me move on, as I am sure you have heard all the above many times. US Email Service is also an autoresponder company, one that I own and operate. Ever since the drafts of the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 started coming out, I have worked to ensure 100% compliance. Now that it is law, we feel we have met that goal. Though certainly not a large company, yet, we have been quite successful with our procedures for implementing the law. I must say, however, that we lose a great many of our customers right off the bat because they feel we are too tough in what we do – and these folks are not spammers. I personally contact as many as I can to discuss the problem. I feel that one major problem is that large, brand-name companies can send most anything they want, in compliance of course, without question. The reader simply deletes the message. if not interested, because they know who the sender is. Small business has a much different problem. People sign up for something today and tomorrow don’t know who they signed up with, or what it was for! When a company like mine sends legitimate follow-up email, it gets questioned. I do take pride, however, in having only one single question and one complaint in the past two months. The complaint was quickly settled as being bad memory. This was for about 500,000 emails sent. The National Do Not Email Registry is Pandora’s box! The FTC must ensure an online method of checking is available for every single commercial email sent. The bandwidth used will be unheard of. The process must permit a list to be cleaned within seconds prior to sending in order that it be of value. In addition, some standard function must be available to all companies for accessing the files. Thank you for your time.