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Hey Text’nDrive, Quit The Spamming Will Ya?

I’m quite accustomed to seeing the little advertisements at the end of e-mail messages I get from various folks who use either a free e-mail service or one that they pay for that is obnoxious enough to include these advertisements in each e-mail message that their customers send.

For example, our real estate agent carries some kind of small tablet device just about everywhere she goes, which is great when I want to get in touch with her, but what a find a little obnoxious about the service provider that connects her device to the rest of the world is that they have to stick an advertisement in the e-mail messages she sends.

In this particular case, what I see at the end of her e-mail messages is “Sent from my Verizon Wireless Device.”

It’s pretty obvious it’s just a blatant advertisement that they are tacking onto the e-mail messages of someone who is paying to use their service. The darn thing isn’t free to use and therefore, I don’t think Verizon has any right to be injecting advertisements into users’ outgoing e-mail messages.

Giving Verizon, the benefit of the doubt, perhaps there is a way for users to shut those little advertisement off, but since I don’t have one of those devices, or any other Verizon mobile device, I don’t know for sure.

Taking the obnoxious meter up a notch is an outfit called Text’nDrive that offers an application for mobile phones (and perhaps other mobile devices) that allows users to hear their incoming e-mail messages read aloud by the application rather than having to read the messages on the device’s screen. On at least some devices, the application can read text messages aloud and also allow users to send e-mail messages and text messages just by speaking.

The capabilities of the application depend on whether or not someone simply downloads the free version or purchases the “Pro” version.

As the company’s website points out, this is a pretty good idea that should help users operate more safely when using the application while driving.

Sounds pretty cool so far, right?

Well, what I don’t find so cool is that this application spams people who send and e-mail to someone who uses this application. I have no information on whether it’s just the free version that sends out e-mail spam or if the “Pro” version does so as well.

This is how it all started: I’ve got a website where I sell some low-priced products. It’s not a big money-maker by any means, but it provides a little extra income here and there.

When someone orders something from the site, the customer receives an e-mail which confirms their order and provides other information regarding the delivery of the product they ordered and things like that. That’s pretty typical of any website your order something from.

The other day someone placed an order and a few hours later I got an e-mail message from the customer. I could tell it was from a customer since the subject line read: “RE: Your Order Details.” I immediately assumed that the customer had a question about the product or ran into some kind of problem while placing their order.

I was a little bit surprised when I opened the message and found this:

From:    [Customer Name Removed]
Sent:    Wednesday, November 02, 2011 12:02 AM
To:   [Address Removed]
Subject:    RE: Your Order Details

I’m driving right now and a voice just read me your message out loud.
I’m using an app called Text’nDrive to avoid touching my phone while driving and thought you should install it to…
It’s Free, with this link: www.textndrive.com/free

 

As far I’m concerned this is spam. This Text’nDrive application grabbed the e-mail address that was used to send order details to our customer and then generated a new e-mail message advertising their product. To some of us, that’s a pretty obnoxious way of promoting a product.

As I pointed out earlier, this may actually be a pretty good product and it’s great that they have a free version. Despite the fact that this may be a great product, spamming me with an advertisement for their product is a big turn off.

I don’t care how cool or useful any given product or service is, spamming is not the way to promote it. If our customer had sent us an e-mail and this application tacked a little advertisement on the message like the Verizon device our real estate agent uses, it would not have been an issue, but this application appears to have spammed me without any action on the customer’s part, making me believe that it was an actual message from a customer.

I would suggest that Text’nDrive explore other ways to promote their product other than spamming people. I’m no lawyer, but I wonder if their tactics are in violation of the CAN-SPAM act. I did not contact the company and I can’t imagine that any judge would consider my message to my customer as an action that would constitute the creation of any kind of “relationship” between myself and Text’nDrive.

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