May 24, 2006

Washington State Spam Lawsuit Settled For $530,000

2 California companies recently got sued for spamming:

 MD&I assembles desktop computers. AvTech Direct marketed those computers, by sending 1,500 unsolicited emails to members of a local Washington state school district.

AvTech Direct was fined a total of $520,000 (and one manager at the company was fined an additional $180,000, but it was waived).
MD&I, who did not send the emails, was fined $10,000.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/271371_spam24.html

Lessons?

  1. Don’t break the CAN-SPAM laws, no matter how small your company or your campaign is. The FTC is just looking for examples to make right now. They’re not just going after the hardcore spammers anymore (more examples), and you don’t have to send millions of emails to get yourself in trouble.
  2. Don’t hire companies to spam for you, because you’ll both get punished. If you’re letting marketers send emails on your behalf, make sure they’re compliant with CAN-SPAM.
  3. Don’t send commercial emails to people unless you have their permission. The best way to prove you have permission? Double opt-in (built into MailChimp).
  4. Harvesting email addresses from school websites (which is what they probably did) is not permission. No matter how much you think they’d love to hear from you.
  5. If you’re going to spam, don’t do it to school teachers. They tend to be a smart crowd that likes to teach lessons.