E-mail List Vendor: Our Records Are Accurate

A company accused of poor business practices for allegedly selling a bunk e-mail list used for a marketing campaign maintains that its data is good.

The dispute between Emailappenders and Javelin Marketing provides an interesting look into how marketing companies have to stay on the right side of legislation such as the CAN-SPAM act in the U.S., as well as how e-mail is big business not only for spammers.

Emailappenders, which has offices in the U.S. and the U.K. and does back-end processing in India, sells e-mail lists. It also offers a service that will try to find e-mail addresses for people that other companies have just the name and address of in their own databases.

Emailappenders sold Javelin Marketing, a company based in Concord, California, a list of more than 100,000 e-mail addresses for people who had opted in to receive marketing material. Javelin sells promotional material, such as PowerPoint presentations, for use by independent financial advisers.

The deal went sour when Javelin used the list for a marketing campaign. Javelin contracted with another company, SwiftPage, to send more than 100,000 e-mails on its behalf. SwiftPage is one of several companies that specialize in sending e-mail that won't be blacklisted as spam.

Javelin's marketing director, Bob Richards, said that nearly 85 percent of the e-mail bounced, which he maintains indicates that most of the list was rubbish. The blowback clogged Javelin's mail server, and SwiftPage said they'd no longer do business with them. He's seeking a refund for the US$14,000 Javelin spent.

But Ian Cooper, Emailappenders' president for business development, said on Friday that there are a variety of reasons why the e-mail could have bounced. Cooper also said Javelin has refused to provide crucial data that could help trace why many e-mails bounced.

The two are locked in an ugly dispute that's yet to reach a resolution.

Emailappenders advises companies that they are required under U.S. law to send a "welcome notice" before starting a campaign. The notice -- known as an opt-in and required by law -- is an e-mail that asks people on the list if they are willing to receive e-mail from a new company, such as Javelin Marketing.

Then, those who opt out are removed from the list, and the campaign can begin. But running a campaign is tricky, since many ISPs (Internet service providers) run software that uses a ranking system to figure out if a message is spammy. Words such as "free" or "discount" increase the spam rating, Cooper said.

Javelin hasn't so far provided the templates for either the opt-in e-mail or its campaign e-mail to Emailappenders, Cooper said. An analysis could show that the templates ranked as too spammy.

It's also possible that SwiftPage had a technical problem; Cooper said he's also asked for the IP (Internet protocol) addresses the campaign was sent from, as it could be checked to see if certain ISPs put up a block. Javelin hasn't provided those either, Cooper said.

"I know the list is not the root cause of the problem," Cooper said.

Cooper said he verified the addresses on the list after Javelin complained. He sent an opt-in notice for his own company, Emailappenders, and the list came back as being 70 percent good -- the deliverability rate guaranteed to Javelin.

Emailappenders will send an e-mail campaign on the behalf of a client. ISPs will sometimes block the e-mail as spam. But the company has a special team that contacts ISPs to ensure it's not labeled as a spammer, Cooper said.

Cooper said a refund is not out of the question, but he's more concerned about Emailappenders' reputation after Javelin quickly struck back by issuing a scathing press release on Tuesday. Emailappenders is a 14-year-old business, he said.

"We can't keep 100 percent of our clients happy, but no one has reacted like Javelin Marketing," Cooper said.

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