Why You Should Never EVER Send Someone an Online Greeting Card

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  • Why You Should Never EVER Send Someone an Online Greeting Card

 

Over the course of the past week, we have received four – count ’em – 4 online greeting cards. We’ve been cautioning against the evils of the online greeting card industry for years, but apparently it’s time to do it again.

There are several issues with online greeting cards, including that they are often spoofed so that when you click on the fake greeting card link, along with the fake card you are getting an extra gift: a virus downloaded to your computer.

But by far the biggest issue is that when someone sends you an online greeting card, by definition it means that they have just given your email address to that service, without your permission.

Oh, they may say they will never use your email address for anything else, and that they will never share it with someone. But even if they really mean it, your email address is there in their system, and we all know what happened just last week with Epsilon, a system so trusted for its security that Chase, Citi Bank, JP Morgan, and Barclays, along with dozens of other major institutions, trusted them with their email lists.

Giving out someone else’s email address without their express permission – especially to an organization that makes money by sending email – is never ok. In fact, it’s illegal in many places. You may think it’s just an email address, what would they do with it, but make no mistake: an online mailing business’ most valuable asset is their mailing lists. They will do anything to add fresh meat to their mailing lists. Warrented or not, mailing list size is one of the prime indicators of corporate health, corporate value, and potential for raising capital.

 

There is an actual monetary value to every single email address they collect – Jigsaw is a great example of that.

Unfortunately, most people don’t think about any of this, until it happens to them. As one reader of the Internet Patrol has explained:

“Having run a simple test, I confirmed that sending someone an ecard does sign them up for spam. I got a Hallmark free account, using all default values where available. I sent a an ecard to email address I created only for this test; kslrnytlkjf398374569@[my_personal_domain].com. Within 5 hours the email address began receiving SPAM. In 24 hours it received 15 separate SPAM messages. Hallmarks privacy statement reads, “we may share the contact information of our customers with carefully picked and trustworthy third parties….” The priacvy statement goes on to say, “You can also call 1-800-HALLMARK and ask to be taken off our business partner promotions listing.” Calling that number is pointless as there is no option for opting out. The CSRs on the phone say that there is no such list and therefore you cannot be taken off it.”

Having received several ecards this past week ourselves, we decided to put to the test one of the larger, more well known companies who had been given our email address, American Greetings.

Take a read for yourself of this actual, real-time conversation with an American Greetings rep, who goes out of their way to avoid our very simple question: What will you do with our email address?:

American Greeting Rep has entered the session.

The Internet Patrol: Hello – somebody gave your company my email address without my permission. How do I have it *completely* removed from your system?

American Greeting Rep: Thank you for contacting AmericanGreetings.com.
American Greeting Rep: Please give me one moment while I research your inquiry.
American Greeting Rep: I will be than happy to add your email address to the surpression list. Confirm email address please .

The Internet Patrol: Ok, but before I do that, can you please explain to me where you are currently storing my email address? What exactly has been done with my email address now that someone has given it to you (and thank you!)

American Greeting Rep: One moment please…
American Greeting Rep: IM not showing that you have a membership with americangreetings.com .Possible that you have visited our website or received a eCard.

The Internet Patrol: But when someone sends me an eCard, what do you guys do with my email address?

American Greeting Rep: i going to add your email address to a surpression list .
American Greeting Rep: Is there anything else that I can assist you with today?

The Internet Patrol: I appreciate that..but I’m asking *where is my email address in your system right now*? Somebody gave you my email address (to send me a card) – I’m asking what your system does with my email address when that happens.
The Internet Patrol: Like, would I get other email from you besides the card? Do you share my email address with partners?

American Greeting Rep: I wouldnt be able to locate your email address if there was a possiablity that a Ecard was sent to you.
American Greeting Rep: And no we do not share email addresses.

(Article continues below)
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Why You Should Never EVER Send Someone an Online Greeting Card

The Internet Patrol: So you are saying that even though someone gave you my email address (to send me a card) without my permission, I don’t have to worry about it because your system will *never* send me any email (other than a card someone wants to send me)? (As you may be able to tell, I’m pretty unhappy that someone gave my email address to your service.)

American Greeting Rep: And when I add your email address to the surpression list you will not receive any Ecards from a friend or family member who has a account with americangreetings.com.

The Internet Patrol: But if you don’t add it to the supression list, would I get email from you (if nobody sent me a card..I mean email from American Greetings…reminders, offers, advertising, etc.?)

American Greeting Rep: One moment please…

The Internet Patrol: Thank you – I *really* appreciate it, as that’s what I most am trying to understand.

American Greeting Rep: If i add your email address to the list you will not receive any emails from americangreeting.com or any body that has a membership with americangreetings.com.

The Internet Patrol: But what if you *don’t* add my address to the list??
The Internet Patrol: What will I get then?

American Greeting Rep: You will receive a email confirming that your email address will be added to the surpression list .
American Greeting Rep: Please let me know if you want your email address added to list .

The Internet Patrol: Let me ask you a question – I’m asking you, pretty straight forwardly – you have been given my email address, if you don’t add my email address to your supression list what sorts of email will I get from your company, and you aren’t answering me. :-(…is that because you are not supposed to tell me that your system may send me marketing or other email? I don’t understand why you won’t answer my simple question.

American Greeting Rep: Did you get a email from our company ?

The Internet Patrol: Yes.
The Internet Patrol: A reminder.

American Greeting Rep: What was the email in regards?
American Greeting Rep: A reminder about what ?

The Internet Patrol: About the card that someone sent me (which is how I knew they gave you my email address).

American Greeting Rep: So would you like me to add your email address so that you will no longer receive Ecard from our company .
American Greeting Rep: the only way we can control for that person who had sent you a ecard is to add your email address to the surpression list.

The Internet Patrol: My question is, if you do not add my email address to your suppression list, will I get other email from American Greetings? It’s pretty extreme to add me to a list that means nobody can send me a card, so I wouldn’t want to do that unless it was the only way of stopping your system from sending me email *other than cards*.
The Internet Patrol: Oh!..maybe this is how I need to ask it – if you do not add my email address to your suppression list, would I ever get any email besides cards and reminders of cards?

American Greeting Rep: Yes If I add your name you will not receive any emails associated with our company.

The Internet Patrol: And if you don’t add my name, will I get email associated with your company?

American Greeting Rep: Yes you will.

The Internet Patrol: I mean, will I get email that is not a card or a reminder? Will I get email that is from your company, not from one of your users?

American Greeting Rep: If i add your name to list you will not receive any emails associated with our company meaning , reminders, ecards . And if I don’t add your name to the list , yes you will receive Ecards that were sent to You.

The Internet Patrol: And what else will I receive?
The Internet Patrol: I’m trying so hard to understand that risk associated with leaving my email address in your system, but I am just not getting the information from you.
The Internet Patrol: Will I get *ANYTHING* other than eCards and reminders?

American Greeting Rep: Have you been getting any emails other than Ecards from our company?

The Internet Patrol: Not yet, because my email address was only given to you a couple of days ago… that is why I’m asking what else I might get. :-)

American Greeting Rep: Our phone number is 1-800-711-4474. * When given the Automated System options, please say “New Membership” to be directed to a live representative.
American Greeting Rep: Is there anything else that I can assist you with today?

The Internet Patrol: Anything else? You didn’t even assist me with this.

By the way, for the sake of completeness, we did go to view the card, to see what ‘gotchas’ American Greeting had in store for us. Here is what we saw – notice the prechecked “Sign me up for updates and special offers from AmericanGreetings.com” that they put where it can take advantage of your desire to quickly and easily thank whomever sent you the card.

 

american-greeting-say-thanks

 


 

Remember, don’t give out other people’s email address, not even “just this once” to send them some cute card. Because your “just this once” can easily turn into an avalanche of unwanted email – or worse – for your friend.

  
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Why You Should Never EVER Send Someone an Online Greeting Card

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