Conde Nast Will Never Stop Emailing You. Never. Stop Asking.

Condé Nast marketing department, are you on crack? Have you put some trinket from “The Hills” in charge of your mail server? Justin has emailed you repeatedly to tell you to stop spamming him. His marketing preferences on your site show a vast field of “No” for every single title on your list. And yet he’s received 16 emails since his last request—almost three a month. You should know better—or, as Justin puts it, “This isn’t some Nigerian guy trying to make my penis larger or send me money, this is a company here, in the United States, that I know should be held accountable.”

Justin even complained to the FCC, but got back a form response asking him to just complain some more. So now he’s asking the Consumerist readership for advice. How do you get Condé Nast to stop spamming? As he writes at the end, what he wants to know is how to “get them to stop, in accordance with the law, not just sidestep the problem.”

con_condenastnonono.jpg

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy pretty close to where I am, I was once subscribed to Cargo Magazine, kind of a mens version of Vogue. Had a lot of gadgets, nice clothes, basically the Gawker empire, but in print.
 
Sadly, they canceled the magazine about 2 years into publication, and remaining issues on subscriptions were switched to GQ magazine. After my subscription ended, I didn’t renew, but every now and then, would receive an email from them about offerings, ect. Just basic spam.
 
Attached is an email dated October 11, 2007, stating that I do not wish to receive ANY emails from ANY CondeNast Publication. Since then, I have received 16! emails from them, in direct violation of their own privacy policy. I have forwarded the email to their privacy administrator, have requested for them to stop sending me emails, everything short of an EECB. This isn’t some Nigerian guy trying to make my penis larger or send me money, this is a company here, in the United States, that I know should be held accountable.
 
So I called them out in violation of CANSPAM, and sent my confirmation of removal, and copies of the emails sent. I’ve used the FTC website, forwarded the emails directly, filled out forms, but to no avail. Here is the response from the FTC:

  March 24, 2008
Justin XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX, FL XXXXXX
Re: FTC Ref. No. XXXXXX
 
Dear Justin XXX:
 
Thank you for contacting the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) regarding your receipt of unwanted unsolicited commercial email (commonly referred to as “UCE” or “spam”).
 
The strong public outcry against spam prompted Congress to pass the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (“CAN-SPAM” or the “CAN-SPAM Act”). The CAN-SPAM Act does not prohibit the sending of commercial email, it merely sets forth requirements for sending commercial email. CAN-SPAM gives consumers the right to ask companies to stop sending them commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial email messages, and lays out penalties for the people who send violative messages. The law’s requirements, which took effect on January 1, 2004, cover email whose primary purpose is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service, including content on a Web site operated for a commercial purpose.
 
The FTC asks that you send a copy of any unwanted or deceptive email messages to spam@uce.gov. (Please be sure to include the full email header when forwarding your spam – it is the header information that makes it possible for consumer protection agencies to follow up on your complaint.) The FTC uses the spam stored in this database to pursue law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive spam email. In addition, be sure to let the FTC know if a “remove me” request is not honored. If you want to complain about a removal link that doesn’t work or not being able to unsubscribe from a list, you can fill out the FTC’s online complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. Your complaint will be added to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database and made available to hundreds of law enforcement and consumer protection agencies.
 
Unfortunately, right now, there is no way to stop receiving spam, just as there is no way to stop receiving junk mail at your home. But there are steps you can take to help minimize the amount of spam you receive. Enclosed please find a FTC Consumer Alert with tips on what you can do to help reduce the amount of spam you receive.
 
I hope you find the above information helpful in addressing this issue.
 
Sincerely yours,
Consumer Response Center

Big help that was, considering that this is their jurisdiction. They aren’t even “taking it seriously”. Violation of CANSPAM is an $11,000 fine, so 16 emails can add up pretty quickly.
 
So, my question, to your and the readers of the Consumerist, is how to make them stop sending me emails. I know it’s just easier to automatically have them be deleted, mark them as spam, ect., but the importance is to get them to stop, in accordance with the law, not just sidestep the problem.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Slow news day, Chris?

  2. bohemian says:

    There isn’t anything you can do unless someone at Conde Nast decides to fix whatever their problem is. Your other option is to put all of your other spam on an autoforward to an active email address with Conde Nast, preferrably someone in the marketing department of their online presence.

  3. DJC says:

    Just create a filter in your email that deletes their emails automatically (based on FROM address).

  4. Chris Walters says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: SILENCIO.

    Everyone else: do not take ConsumptionJunkie’s bait.

  5. If it was me (and it has been), set your mail program to delete them. But before deleting them, forward them to every email address they have.

    I think they will get the picture soon enough.

  6. Lazarus says:

    Id block them at the domain level. Or IP level.

  7. Parting says:

    Flag them as spam. Report as spam to your e-mail company.

  8. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    @Chris Walters:

    Harry Potter reference FTW!!!!

  9. secretoftheeast says:

    Did you make sure that there aren’t any opt-out links in the emails you receive?

    You can write them a letter, enclosing your original email stop request, as well as printouts of all their emails since. Note the CAN-SPAM fine and warn them that you’ve already reported them, and all future emails will have a complaint sent to the FTC as well.

    Unfortunately, there’s no civil penalty, so you aren’t exactly able to pursue this much further.

  10. howie_in_az says:

    @Phillip M. Vector: The irony is that they’d just blacklist your address from sending mail to them.

  11. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I had the same thing with a children’s clothing company who will remain nameless because they eventually stopped when I emailed customer service.
    Endlessly clicking on the “unsubscribe” button didn’t help at all.
    Writing a terse note to customer service fixed it in one shot.

  12. ptkdude says:

    @howie_in_az: But if he shares the list of email addresses with everyone on here, and we ALL do that they’ll get the picture. One ant isn’t a nuisance, but thousands of ants are.

  13. Zanorfes says:

    Depending on where you live, you may be able to sue them. For example in California, it is against the law to send emails unsolicited. If you have asked them to stop but they don’t, you can be compensated. Unfortunately, not too many people know this law, and small claims courts rarely get these types of suits.

    For more information, google “how to sue spammers”.

  14. nickripley says:

    Contact CN’s ISP! Wonder how to find out who that is… We should ask this on Slashdot!

  15. taka2k7 says:

    write to congress and get them to close all the loop holes and make companies that fail to stop truely financially liable.

    I’ve got the same problem with newsmax.com. Their opt-out isn’t worth the electrons used to display it on their POS website.

  16. rkmc12 says:

    A while ago, while writing about politics, I subscribed to the Democratic Party email list. I’ve asked to be removed three times and they keep sending me emails. They won’t take a hint.

  17. STrRedWolf says:

    Okay, folks, time for a quick lesson in spam fighting. First, whois infomation on “condenast.com” points to a NYC address:

    Conde Nast Publications
    4 Times Square
    New York, New York 10036
    US

    I believe NY State has an antispam law. They have a form here to complain about the spamming, since it’s in there juristiction: [www.oag.state.ny.us]

    Check your local state’s laws if they also have an antispamming statute. I know off hand Washington State, California, Maryland, and Virgina do, and they are compatible with CAN-SPAM. There is also case law in Maryland saying if the domain part of the receiving end (ex: stalag99.net for me) is registered in Maryland, it constitutes being a MD resident and thus MD antispam law applies. Ether way, contact your state attorney general!

    And finally, complain to their ISP! That in a latter message.

  18. Buran says:

    @Neecy: It doesn’t have to be. Isn’t it also Spanish for “silence”?

  19. ecwis says:

    This same thing happened to me. NEVER give your email to Conde Naste. I have clicked on several of their unsubscribe links (most of them don’t work and return errors) and I have also emailed the privacy department of their magazine company clearly stating “PLEASE CEASE ANY COMMUNICATION, INCLUDING ELECTRONIC AND POSTAL MAIL.”

    Guess what? I keep getting emails! I never opted into these emails in the first place. I am always careful to opt out when giving out my email address.

    I ended up making a filter on Gmail that sends all the email sent from their domain straight to the trash.

  20. STrRedWolf says:

    So, what is their ISP? A traceroute will do the trick. From my connection in Baltimore, I get this as the last few valid lines of a traceroute:

    5 0.so-3-2-0.XT1.DCA6.ALTER.NET (152.63.39.169) 16.757 ms 16.875 ms 0.so-5-1-0.XT1.DCA5.ALTER.NET (152.63.36.205) 41.856 ms
    6 0.so-7-0-0.XL1.PHL6.ALTER.NET (152.63.2.213) 16.928 ms 0.so-2-3-0.XL1.PHL6.ALTER.NET (152.63.37.86) 12.647 ms 9.502 ms
    7 POS6-0.GW1.PHL6.ALTER.NET (152.63.42.213) 12.009 ms 12.109 ms 12.164 ms
    8 condensat-gw.customer.alter.net (65.195.228.74) 9.588 ms 11.895 ms 11.978 ms

    Looks like it’s alter.net. A look on their website… OH Lookie! It’s Verizon’s Business ISP, aka UU.NET! http://www.verizonbusiness.com — and they list every director and email address there. But first, drop a line to abuse@ and postmaster@ Verizon, indicate that it’s a business hosted by them. Getting their ISP in the know will give them a warning before you contact your attorney general.

    And finally, for one-shot abuse reporting, Spamcop.net. [www.spamcop.net] is their one-shot report page.

  21. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Chris, you made a typo. I think you meant FTC and not FCC.

    The FCC regulates radio and television and some internet…

  22. Smashville says:

    @Neecy: Huh…I thought it as more of a…you know…Spanish reference?

  23. timmus says:

    Send them a certified return receipt letter. Otherwise getting them to stop is really no more effective than a verbal complaints.

  24. Roy Hobbs says:

    While any unsolicited email is a pain, aren’t we getting our panties in a twist over 16 whole emails?

  25. scoosdad says:

    @timmus: How is spending extra money to deliver a letter to them going to give you a better chance at getting the spam to stop? They can ignore a certified return receipt letter too.

  26. Swervo says:

    @rkmc12: They did the same thing to me. I told them I’d vote libertarian if they didn’t stop.

    Shockingly enough, it stopped.

  27. AndyMan1 says:

    Did you double check you are unsubscribing the correct email?

    I was about to pitch a fit at Chris Dodd till i realized I signed up under email+dodd@gmail (for the filter trick), but kept trying to unsubscribe my email@gmail.com

  28. espertus says:
  29. espertus says:

    I successfully sued a spammer in small claims court and won. I recommend it.

  30. nacoran says:

    I bought a soap dish online once. I specifically asked not to be put on an email list but, wouldn’t you know it, I was. I sent a letter to their webmaster and was promptly removed. I few days later I got another email from them.

    I was shocked. It was the webmaster apologizing profusely and asking exactly where I had signed up on their site so he could make sure that he fixed the bug that had put me on the list.

    I’d do business with them again, that is if I ever need another soap dish. Unfortunately/fortunately, it’s a great soap dish and barring some bizarre bathroom accident I don’t imagine I’ll ever need another.

  31. Copper says:

    @rkmc12: Well, I’m a Republican and the Democratic party keeps mailing me things telling me to vote for them…

  32. TPK says:

    @Neecy: Harry Potter? Nah…. Sherman T. Potter!

    “Oh, you’re a peck of pips, all right. Despite my direct orders you had to put ‘Be Stupid’ first on your list of ‘Things to do Today’! [arguing] SILENCIO!!!”

  33. StevieD says:

    Not a big hairy deal. Just use your spam blocker and move on.

  34. yourbffjill says:

    I sent some terse response to a loser who wouldn’t stop inviting me to their indie rock yahoo group and then promptly found myself on every Jessica Simpson/Britney Spears record label giant mailing list. Those were IMPOSSIBLE to get removed from. I tried all of the opt out links, I tried e-mailing them, they did not care. They finally stopped after a few years but by that time I had already been completely fed up with my lame hotmail account. It’s now my junk account and I couldn’t care less if I get the latest Jessica Simpson tour info there…

  35. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    I have the same problem with Classmates.com. Took me forever to get those crooks to stop billing me as well.

  36. Why not just accept the fact that conde-nast is a bitchin’ company with a list of fine quality publications to choose from and accept one of their offers? Furthermore, “silencio” is a reference to “Club Silencio” in Mulholland Dr. Chris Walters is commenting on how life is a mere illusion and that like the club silencio we exist on a stage within our own reality and desires. Are we constructs of the meandering day dream of a giant sleeping on a hillside in an alternate universe? Or are we advanced meatbags wrapped around chimpanzee brains who’s only existence is to begin a slow decay from birth to our eventual death?
    Or is it because it’s friday morning and I’m feeling like a smart ass? :D

  37. WhirlyBird says:

    X10 is another one just like this. I bought something from them *years* ago, and they’ve been emailing me ever since. I’ve clicked every “unsubscribe” link they have, I’ve removed my account, nothing helps. There are just some companies that refuse to stop.

  38. @marsneedsrabbits: The unsubscribe link on most emails/web pages is kind of like the “Door Close” button in an elevator — you feel better for pushing it, but it doesn’t necessarily do anything.

  39. Wimpkins says:

    NFL.com is the same way, I’ve unsubscribed a hundred times.

  40. Pixel says:

    I have never bought a magazine from Conde Nast, and yet I still receive tons of spam from them. So they are not only spamming their customers, but buying email address lists and spamming them too.

    I block the addresses, and that works for a while then they start spamming from another. Even blocking any emails with the phrase “Conde Nast” doesn’t always work as they’ll slip in alternate characters that look normal to subvert that.

    Obnoxious slimeball company, all the spamming has done is waste my time, and make sure that I’ll never buy anything from them.

  41. katylostherart says:

    did you know from the spring/fall mega issues of vogue has enough paper to create a 4x4x4 victorian replica dollhouse – fully furnished complete with yard and wrought iron fence and oak tree with swing. if you’re feeling really industrious you can even make a 2 horse carriage.

    all you need is paste.

  42. wesrubix says:

    Spam them back. A friend of mine wrote a SendMail script to flood email addresses he kept on a spam list. It would up the payload every day until they stopped.

    If you’re not a unix junkie, you could set up a gmail account, sign up for a TON of spam, and then make a gmail filter to forward all email to the source address of the condenast spam. See how they like it.

  43. lunchbox says:

    i have been having this problem with DISH Network. I tried to get their service but was unable due to mouting brackets and my condos outside facade. As a result, I no longer have an online account with them, so I cannot log in to change email preferences. I have emailed their customer services and called. My emails no longer garner responses after I had been assured by “Michelle” that it was forwarded on and would be taken care of. Every month…same thing. I am so annoyed. Their click thru link doesn’t work. I used to work in mailing ‘compliant spam’ so I know how they are in gross violation!! But I do not understand why they will not stop!!
    **full disclosure, left the industry because it just left a bad taste in my mouth

  44. GrandizerGo says:

    FTD.COM does the same.
    After ordering a gift for someone on short notice, I TRIED to cancel my dealings with them.
    Their online form is garbage, says it can not find my email address, but in the LOST password box, you put in your email address and it emails you your password!!!
    Call them on the phone and speak to them, they refuse to cancel service unless you give them personal information up the ass!
    All emails from lilly@ftd.com are now deleted immediately on the server before making it to me.

  45. CornwallBlank says:

    Conde Nast are well-known spammers, which is why they’re on thousands of private blacklists. (Note that compliance with CAN-SPAM is irrelevant; that garbage piece of legislative masturbation fails to even use the correct DEFINITION of spam.) I suggest having your ISP join the many others who have simply blacklisting all Conde Nast domains and IP space permanently.

  46. dotcomrade says:

    Justin,

    I too had a subscription to CARGO–
    I loved that magazine–and when they offered GQ to fill the remainder of my term, I declined and asked that they remove me from the GQ marketing list and any lists shared with third parties.

    I find that opting-out of marketing preferences–when you first subscribe, usually helps to eliminate junk (snail) mail solicitations.

    However, when I received Condé Nast spam, rather than open it and respond-providing confirmation that it is a valid email address–I ignored it and added CondeNast.com to my spam filter.

    In light of CornwallBlank’s post, I think we are obligated to complain directly to CN. All of the following information is readily available at the Condé Nast corporate website:
    [www.condenastmediakit.com]

    The email format for Condé Nast Publications, Inc:

    Firstname[underscore]lastname@condenast.com

    For example, to reach the Chief Executive Officer and President, you would email
    charles_Townsend@condenast.com

    Key Executives:

    Mr. David Carey
    Group President and Publishing Director
    Mr. Richard Beckman
    Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President

    New York Office
    Condé Nast Publications, Inc.
    4 Times Square,
    New York, NY 10036
    Phone: (212) 286-6410
    Fax: (212) 286-7969

    Privacy Policy Coordinator
    The Condé Nast Publications
    1313 Market Street
    Wilmington, DE 19801
    Privacy_administration@advancemags.com

    Please report back on your success in eliminating CN spam.

  47. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @BeFrugalNotCheap: Fabulous! Congrats! Post of the Day, and it’s not even lunchtime yet.

  48. consumersaur says:

    slow comment day?ConsumptionJunkie:

  49. silvanx says:

    Mark the Conde Nast e-mails as spam. If enough people do it, the e-mail provider will start blacklisting them. gmail does a particularly good job at fighting spam.

  50. richcreamerybutter says:

    I’m wondering if some of you have ever been to 4 Times Square. Trust me, letter writing (certified?? LOL) isn’t going to help in this case. Anything involving back end databases will not be found in this building, nor will the recipients know what to do with your letters except redirect them to the garbage (ok, some publications might use the recycling bins).

    Hints: condenet, advancenet.

  51. JamesE says:

    Just curious about one thing: is it possible that you originally subscribed with another e-mail address, which automatically forwards to your current inbox (such as gmail, where many users have multiple accounts forwarding to the same box, but treat them as one)? If so, you may simply be adjusting preferences for the wrong address. If this is not the case, mark as spam. Some online marketer/web designer probably just has no idea what they’re doing.

  52. richcreamerybutter says:

    Correction: you may find a few techies on these floors, but they are not likely to have the resources available to help out. I’m a huge fan of letter bombs, but it’s more efficient if you direct them to the department that can effectively address the issue.

  53. richcreamerybutter says:

    test

  54. erica.blog says:

    Cracker Barrel did the same to me, for years, despite clicking removal links, calling them three times… each time I was assured my email was removed, each time I got another promotional email.

    Now, they’re simply routed straight to delete, so I do not have to be aware they have ever arrived. The company has permanently lost my business, and I figure that is a bigger hit to them (with no effort on my part) than trying to struggle through the laughable anti-spam legislation to actually get them to comply with the law and with their own privacy policies.

  55. mammalpants says:

    print them all out, put them in a box and ship it back to them using one of their subscription cards. Include a nice letter asking them to stop. also, include one of your own turds in the middle of the stack.

  56. SeanMike says:

    I had the same problem with the Dallas Cowboys online organization.

    Only it wasn’t me who signed up – there’s some dumbass in the midwest who keeps using my e-mail address for things.

    I e-mailed them, called them, they couldn’t figure out why I still get e-mail from them.

    So I just used “Report Spam” in Gmail, and now I never see it again.

  57. Drowner says:

    For a quick second, I thought I was on the Jezebel blog.

  58. Consumer007 says:

    @wesrubix: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Set up a rule in your mail client to forward back all spam you get from them to their Privacy Policy Coordinator! :)

    Privacy_administration@advancemags.com

  59. ecwis says:

    @Consumer007: I have had two rules set up to automatically delete email from anything at “cdsfulfillment.com” or “condenastpubs.com” but they just sent me an email from a new address “portfoliomag.net”.

    How many email addresses are they going to make? They must be doing this on purpose.

  60. CondeNast says:

    Hi everyone. My name is Robert Schroko and I am the VP of Database
    Marketing responsible for Privacy Administration for Conde Nast
    Publications. I wanted to address this posting and the comments in
    order to assure you that we’re very concerned about the complaints that
    have been raised.

    Conde Nast Publications is sensitive to our customers’ privacy
    preferences and takes opt-outs seriously. Conde Nast’s policy is to
    email only those individuals for whom we have permission to do so.
    Additionally, Conde Nast has a policy of asking for email permissions on
    all touch points where we interact with our customers. We provide up to
    3 options to opt-out in every commercial e-mail message we send: 1) an
    unsubscribe link; 2) the email address of our Privacy Administrator
    (privacy_administrator@advancemags.com); and 3) our physical address
    where an individual can send a postal letter requesting to unsubscribe.

    We wish to apologize to Justin for the inconvenience this has caused,
    and would like to investigate fully to find out what went wrong. We
    can’t do so, however, without knowing the e-mail address he is
    complaining about. If an error caused these unsubscribe methods to
    break down and led to Justin’s troubles, we want to do everything we can
    to fix it.

    Justin, if you would like to follow-up about this with us, please contact me
    directly at RSCHRO@condenast.com.

    Thank you,

    Robert Schroko
    VP of Database Marketing
    Conde Nast Publications

  61. ecwis says:

    @CondeNast: The email for the Privacy Administrator is “privacy_administration@advancemags.com” but nice try. Also, your unsubscribe links rarely work. And when they do, it says that I’m already opted out. “No” for magazine events, “no” for special offers, and “no” for magazine offers yet I still receive emails. I never even opted in for your emails.

    All of this, in addition to your mass junk mail (via USPS), has left a really bad image of your company in my mind. You may want to fix this problem so you don’t lose other customers.

  62. farmrs_wife says:

    Hey is this the same comp? If so oNo we will never be free!

    Condé Nast’s Lying Tech Guy Questioned About Leaking, Spying.
    The guy who runs tech security for Condé Nast has admitted lying to the FBI and lending his services to private detective Anthony Pellicano even though he knew Pellicano was tapping people’s phones.
    [gawker.com]