Hey MyPunchBowl, I’m not Your Customer

So don’t send me email without my permission. Chris and Ponzi invited me to a party using your service, which means they added my email address to your service. As their friend, I’m cool with that. I like getting email from Chris and Ponzi. I don’t want mail from you. I don’t remember checking a box saying you could send me mail. I don’t care that Techcrunch gave you a reasonably good review. I don’t care that Scoble says you’re Maryam approved. I’m guessing none of them would ever use your service if they knew you’d hijack their contacts and start sending a craptacular monthly newsletter WITHOUT PERMISSION. All the AJAX’y goodness in the world won’t get me to recommend your service to anyone. I clicked the unsubscribe link, hopefully MyPunchBowl is gone from my life forever.


  1. Jake,
    I sent you an email about this to apologize. We understand your point of view and it won’t happen again.
    – Matt

  2. We looked at best practices and concluded that sending unsolicited e-mails to invitees/guests was absolute taboo. I just reviewed our privacy messaging and encourage punchbowl to plagerize at will (should they choose to adopt a similar policy):
    “Use of Trip Invitee Email Addresses:
    If you wish to invite people to participate in a group trip, you may do so by using TripHub’s invitation and RSVP tracking tools. TripHub will only use invitee email addresses to send trip-specific invitations, updates, notices, reminders and messages generated by members of the group trip until such a time as the invitee registers with TripHub. Once an individual registers with TripHub, that individual is considered a TripHub member and may receive promotional communications, newsletters and service announcements from TripHub according to the terms and conditions of this privacy policy. ”
    For the record, TripHub is very conservative about the frequency of customer communications. Even though our policy allows “promotional communications and newsletters” in practice, if we don’t have something we believe to be valuable to the majority of our registerd customers, we simply don’t send communications. (This frustrates me as a marketer with lots to say but, hey, customer trust is paramount.) Are we prefect? Probably not. But we believe we’ve taken the right position on this issue. And we’re always open to feedback.

  3. There is always a tension between trying to grow your business via email and adhering to best practices. The temptation to use those email addresses is strong, and it takes some serious intestinal fortitude to not use those addresses.
    Arguably, there is a “business relationship” created in responding to an invitation that comes through a service, such that it would make it “legitimate” under CAN-SPAM, but that doesn’t make it “not spam”. Unfortunately, the marketing departments in companies often prevail over cooler, more rational heads when it comes to these decisions. And if the company is funded, and has to produce a “return on investment”, all bets are off.
    FWIW, as one of the top email accreditors in the industry, *we* would advise a company *never* to do this, but if they wanted to put a “may we send you cool information” link at the bottom of the invitation, that would be ok.

  4. This discussion interested me because I’ve noticed that my in box has some letters I don’t remember asking for.
    I also have another problem of the opposite sort, my aol spam filter keeps putting e-mail from my sister in the spam folder. We have chosen the custom address list as the option for determining spam. A few weeks ago, I figured out how to find the custom list, found my sister’s address there and removed it from the list. I’m still finding her e-mails in the spam folder. Why is this happening?

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