Yesterday I got an email purporting to be from an ex-coworker of mine, from a couple of companies ago. "Dear Al," it said. "[Person] has asked for your help. [...] [Person] has personally asked you to take 30 seconds out of your busy day today and help him/her by submitting a quick professional rating. [Person] is counting on your help."
Ugh, spam. I didn't ask for this, I don't have time for this, and I am just not that interested in it. I investigated this message -- actually sent by some company or service called RateStars, to look for the "make it stop" link and I find a "Deactivate Account" option. I have an account here? That's weird, as I sure as heck didn't sign up for one.
Then today, I get a followup email from that ex-coworker, sent to a bunch of folks to let them know that RateStars sent that email without his knowledge, understanding or consent. After filling out a RateStars survey at the (supposed) request of somebody else, he alleges that RateStars sent out this request without his knowledge. He's warning people to stay away from RateStars.
What's the moral of the story? What could have been somebody recommending a service to friends and acquaintances has now become an active warning to stay away. RateStars just made an enemy. And the context here -- specifically, the email full of pseudo-personal pleas saying that this person is really, truly counting on me, really seem to cross the line.
Also, if the facts are as I'm led to believe, I start to wonder about legal liability under CAN-SPAM. The FTC does not take kindly to services sending out emails purporting to be from a person when that person had no significant control over the content or the decision to send that message. Just ask JumpStart, who was fined $900,00 by the FTC back in 2006 over this type of issue.