A few weeks ago, I got spam from some wine store I had never heard of: Randolph Wine Cellars. Located in Chicago, it looks like a neat place, from their website. Except for one problem: They seem to be spammers.
There's a twist to this story, and in fact, it's what helped me catch them as spammers. See, Randolph Wine Cellars spammed me at an email address I gave only to Uncommon Ground, a local restaurant and bar. I know the date and time I gave it to Uncommon Ground, and I know exactly how it was an address I gave only to Uncommon Ground.
At first I thought Uncommon Ground was to blame. After all, a lot of people don't know that it's bad to sell email addresses. It turns out, from what I can tell, that this wasn't Uncommon Ground's fault. I've talked to a bunch of different people, including Michael Cameron, who owns Uncommon Ground, along with his wife. Michael's a nice guy, and the discussions we've had on this topic have gone well. He's not happy about email addresses on his list ending up on somebody else's list. My understanding is that this is not something that he engineered, advocated, or allowed. And I believe him.
I'm glad of that, because I don't do business with spammers. I am actively anti-spam, and I shun and shame spammers. I also report them to blacklists. My day job is educating list managers and companies on how not to be spammers, and throwing spammers off of my employer's network. Spamming me is not a smart idea.
When this first happened, when I thought it was Uncommon Ground's fault, I was really upset. Because the Uncommon Ground on Devon, near my home, is a really good restaurant and bar. My girlfriend and I love their food, love their commitment to local and organic foods, and we love the vibe. The location is great. We usually walk there when we go. But, I don't do business with spammers, so I thought we weren't able to be able to go back. Now that I know this wasn't Uncommon Ground's fault, we have been back there, and I heartily recommend that any of my Chicago readers visit Uncommon Ground as well. I've never had a bad meal there.
Of course, I didn't just take Michael's word for it - my own investigation, my own discussion with other parties involved, has led me to believe that Uncommon Ground wasn't behind this.
I'm going to have more on the Randolph Wine Cellars side of this story as my investigation progresses. Stay tuned for that.
In the mean time, let me ask you this: Who in their right mind thinks it's OK to buy or sell email addresses?
I signed up for emails from Uncommon Ground because I wanted to get emails from them. I did not sign up for emails from Randolph Wine Cellars, and I have no interest in receiving information about them. I don't know who they are, and in fact, the main thing I now know about them is that they sent me spam. That doesn't make me trust them, nor does it make me want to do business with them. Quite the opposite. It makes me distrust and dislike them. Spam is a sneaky, unethical, and underhanded way to advertise. Why would an ethical company send me spam?