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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Please tick the box if you do not wish to receive crap.

What a load of old bollocks.

Today, I received spam mail from Walkers crisps. At the bottom of the email it claimed that

"We have sent you this email as you indicated that you were interested in receiving information from Walkers, when you entered our 'Win an Ipod' promotion. "

BULLSHIT! I did no such thing. I explicitly remember ticking the NO box when I entered the promotion. I ALWAYS tick the NO box, and if I don't see the option immediately, I hunt in the small print for it or cancel what I'm doing. That approach has helped me maintain a relatively spam-free email inbox.

Of course, this isn't new.

Recently, I caught two major companies selling on my details, red handed.
First: Reed Business.
This is the publishing company that distributes New Scientist Magazine. When I renewed my subscription a couple of years back, I ticked the box as normal to stop them advertising new products or selling my details on to "carefully selected third parties".
My first issue arrived, and I noticed that they had my initials wrong. Not surprising, me and neat handwriting have never been the cosiest of bed fellows. Over the coming weeks however, I started getting junkmail. Everything from charities to other magazine subscriptions. Even credit cards - all with those incorrect initials.

The second culprit is Barclaycard.
When I bought my laptop, I decided to try and get interest free credit for a few months by opening a new card and doing a balance transfer. I eventually opted for Barclaycard. There is an urban myth that if you have "Doctor" on your credit card, banks treat you nicer and airlines offer you free upgrades. As it happens, by getting a Barclaycard, I picked one of the few providers that don't actually stick your title on the card face (Doh!). Anyways, that is the only time I have ever used my profesional title outside of University. I can't see the point, and I'm haunted by the old joke
"How can you tell the person that graduated bottom of their medical class? They're the ones who insist that you call them Doctor...".
Buggered if I'm going to be mistaken as a failed medic!
Well, sure enough I started getting junkmail (mostly for rival financial institutions bizarrely) all addressed to "Dr Sanescientist".

Reed Business, have flatly denied any wrongdoing and I suspect that I will get similar short-shrift from Barclays. However, I am tempted to emulate these mistakes as a way of tracking the source of junkmail in the future.

It shouldn't be too hard to prove that the only company that lists me on its database as Brigadier General Sanescientist (Retd.), is guilty of selling my data on...



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