After my post on Linkshare spamming me at the turn of century, I was reminded of the person to whom I addressed the cease-and-desist letters. It was a gentleman named Stephen Messer.
In 2002, I wrote:
Linkshare lost my respect in the late 1990s after sending two dozen spam, after I had unsubscribed from its service. Same thing: complaints didn't work. Unsubs didn't work. Two written letters to Linkshare with a cease-and-desist request didn't work. It was only till I started emailing Linkshare merchants, potentially harming the company's bottom line, that someone there took notice.
By 2004, it appears it was identiﬁed for spam again:
By quizzing the mortgage brokers who called me, I was able to determine whether they’d obtained my contact information from a spammer. One call that stemmed from a spam message came from a mortgage broker who said he bought my name, physical and e-mail addresses, and phone number from lead generator Neighborhood Loan.
When I asked a representative of Neighborhood Loan how it got my name, I was told the lead traced even farther back to a company called LinkShare, from which Neighborhood Loan bought my name.
LinkShare is an advertising company that has developed a network of so-called afﬁliate marketers. LinkShare acts as a kind of matchmaker, pairing companies that are looking for mortgage leads with people who can provide leads. But sometimes, some of the people who claim to be able to ﬁnd leads do so by working outside of LinkShare’s company policiesthat is, relying on spam marketing.
Stephen Messer, LinkShare chairman and CEO, says his network does not have a problem with rogue affiliates. “Does it happen occasionally? It does,” Messer says. “Like all things in life, there are people who do stupid things.”
He says he goes to great lengths to police the 11 million transactions that take place on his network every day. “The problem of spam is bigger than LinkShare,” Messer says. He blames the scourge of mortgage spam on lax enforcement of existing antispam and fraud laws.
Messer says LinkShare has strict policies against e-mail marketing that does not comply with CAN-SPAM. He says that the company works diligently to weed out the bad apples, but ﬁnds that they are an unfortunate fact of lifeand the loan business.
You can imagine how hard I found this to believe. Linkshare ignored my correspondence and spammed me 20-something times. (I thought it was 21, though my 2002 article says 24, so it may be the higher number. I believe it may have been 21 at the time of the ﬁrst letter.) It only stopped after I began targeting Linkshare merchants to inform them of my experience. Then, and only then, did I matter to Linkshare: ignore legitimate complaints, but notice the threats.
I had posted last week that I had hoped Linkshare had changed its behaviour in more recent times. I still hold that hope, even if I will not deal with that company. But the 2004 article suggests that, even as late as three years ago, it had, perhaps innocently, stumbled into spamming again.
Incidentally, Travelocity has announced it will leave BeFree for Commission Junction. Another merchant bites the dust as far as we are concerned, and loses out on our trafﬁc. Posted by Jack Yan, 08:23
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