This came into my inbox today.
This is an example of just about everything we tell you not to do here.
And this is a company that is going to have serious deliverability problems.
Let’s deconstruct this, shall we? This is an important object lesson, because this is exactly the kind of email you have to make sure that your own email doesn’t look like.
Starting with the headers:
Subject: Get Started with TripIt
Date: August 14, 2008 4:39:28 PM MDT
To: amitchell(@mypersonal email address)
Let’s see – first, why am I getting email from su*****@tr****.com, when I haven’t asked for support (in fact, I’ve never, ever had anything to do with TripIt.com – ever). Second, they are sending email to me at my personal email address, which I never gave them. Third, they are using the dreaded “do-not-reply@” email address – and – oh, the irony – they are using it in their reply-to!
Ok, here’s the body of the email:
Welcome to TripIt!
We’re thrilled to have you join the growing number of savvy travelers who are using TripIt (http://www.tripit.com/) to organize and share their travel plans.
Now see, this is interesting, because I never joined Tripit! In fact, I had never even heard of them before I got today’s spam from them.
(As an aside, how stupid do you have to be to spam me?)
We’re here to help take care of all the little details so you can spend more time enjoying your trips.
These are a few ways that TripIt can start saving you time right away.
Well, you could start by saving me time by not making me deal with your spam.
And if you’re more the visual type, check out the quick video walk-thru on our Learn More page (http://www.tripit.com/uhp/learnMore).
1. EMAIL YOUR TRAVEL PLANS AND LET US DO THE WORK
Just forward your travel booking confirmation emails to pl***@tr****.com and we’ll automatically add those details to your TripIt itineraries. It’s as simple as that, and TripIt is compatible with email confirmations from more than 150 top booking sites. In the words of one of our travelers “It’s like magic!”
2. EXPAND AND CUSTOMIZE YOUR ITINERARY
Sure, having all your flights, hotels and cars in one combined itinerary is pretty nice, but TripIt also automatically adds local maps, driving directions and daily weather. You can further customize your itinerary by adding activities, notes and photos. You can even forward confirmation emails from sites like Amtrak, RailEurope, OpenTable, TicketMaster and SuperShuttle. They all end-up in your TripIt itinerary.
Do you honestly think that I’m going to trust my personal travel details to a company that has evidenced such a reckless disregard for my privacy already? That has already demonstrated that they are all about worst Internet practices?
3. SHARE YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
You can easily share your trips with family and colleagues, and even collaborate and build itineraries together, saving everyone lots of time. You can also add people who you frequently share and travel with as TripIt Connections. Then, our Closeness Alerts let you know when your travel plans overlap, so you can meet up while traveling.
Ah, and here is the corker. This company, that has already blatantly spammed me, wants me to give them the email addresses of my family and colleagues.
Ladies and gentleman, these are the kinds of companies that are giving the rest of you legitimate commercial email senders, who are trying to do the right thing, a bad name.
If you have any questions, just email us at su*****@tr****.com. This may sound crazy these days, but we actually read and reply to emails from our customers. We also listen very closely to your suggestions, too.
Ok guys, what do you think? Shall we email them? Do you think they’d listen closely to our suggestion? What do you think that suggestion should be?
The TripIt Team
Happy Spam Folder!
The Email Deliverability Blog
Iâ€™m the president of TripIt and am very sorry about this. The email you received was sent as the result of a bug we introduced a week ago. The trigger for this email to you was that someone invited you to join TripIt. However, as you point out, we should not have sent this email to you unless you create an account with TripIt. We fixed this bug last night, but unfortunately not in time to prevent you from experiencing the error.
As background, our welcome email is designed to help new TripIt members understand our service. People should get this AFTER they create their account, including validating the email address. For the last week, we have been inadvertently sending welcome emails to people who have been invited to join TripIt, but have not yet activated their accounts. We totally agree with your postâ€™s assessment that this is neither a good experience for the recipient nor the right thing to do. It is for precisely these reasons we jumped to fix the bug as soon as it was identified.
While it doesnâ€™t make up for your negative experience, please accept our sincere apologies for this unfortunate error.
I gotta say, I use TripIt, and love the service – it’s great for folks who make their own travel plans as it collates the stuff for me. It’s too bad you had this bad/awful experience — and I have used it for a while without them ever asking for addresses, etc. so I never felt spammed/scammed. Bummer that you did.
Hehe, sounds like a SQL query was missing a “but only if their email address has been confirmed” query.
May I suggest, Greg, that you NOT store unconfirmed email addresses in the same table as confirmed? Defensive programming.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to come here and explain what happened – and so quickly, as well.
That was very stand-up of you, and is, I think, the mark of a good captain at the helm of TripIt.
Mistakes happen – and I’m glad that this was the product of a mistake. (That said, it also shows the danger of the whole social network invitation system – as *nobody* who really knows me would *ever* send such an invite to me – the only possible explanation would be that someone who didn’t *really* know me had my email address in their address book for some reason and it got imported to TripIt – there is no legitimate reason for my address to be in the system at all.)
Again, I appreciate your response; thank you.
Well, I hope the word gets out about TripIt and it’s totally unethical practices. Yes, I read Gregg Brockway’s “please accept my sincere apologies” … but I do not. The TripIt service does a very nasty thing. Unsuspecting decent people go there, thinking and expecting that typical ethics/standards would be in place. Sure, we’ve been trained to know from online services that there are marketing options to set, and possibilities of receiving some third party email. But what no one would expect is for such services to harvest ones address book and spam them – using your name! So that means EVERYONE in your address book… family, friends, former friends, business associates and former, your lawyer, your old boyfriend… All of them receive spam from YOU, encouraging them to login to TripIt, so they can fall victim as well.
Of course, TripIt states – that they would NEVER EVER do such a thing… that is *unless* you have this preference set. The thing is -this “preference” is stealth and is as sneaky as fine print. I have asked TripIT to please tell me where exactly this option is, and what exactly this option states. I won’t hold my breath.
Meanwhile, I want readers to be aware the new level of low, that is going on. I was conditioned for the occasional spam… this is the equivalent of a *legal* emailer worm, via that (((teeny tiny print))).
I read an article on similar ploys – as the Virus Software scanner people think to posture what to do about legal viruses, such as TRipIT! This is totally unacceptable, and TripIt – YOU have NO EXCUSE. It may be legal… but TripIT is a SCAM.
What a liar their president is. I just got one today, over 5 mos. after yours. And this one says someone I’ve never heard of invited me. Yeah, right.
It came to my work address. Fortunately, I control our IronMail anti-spam appliance, so Monday I’ll hopefully save some of my 1100 co-workers from getting any of this.
I got one of these the other day and thought nothing of it, but then they sent me a “one-time reminder about a previous invitation” not quite a month later, including a username (my personal email) and a simple, randomly generated password… oh an a [not so] personal message:
Message from robert207:
“Join me on TripIt so we can stay in touch while traveling. It’s really easy.”
When you follow the link in the email (thereby confirming your address) you’re asked to provide a bunch of personal information that’s “totally optional, but opens up cool features that we think you’ll like”. Sure enough “You’ve been a TripIt member since Mar 06, 2009” – the date of the original invite.
Here’s the kicker: because they create your account for you when you’re invited, it appears you’re now searchable by other invitees. That is, they’re [ab]using my name and reputation to encourage others to join even though I’ve never interacted with them.
It’s not the only time they’ll create accounts for you though – if you email them an itinerary they’ll use your sender address… but it’s ok (!?!) because they give you a “merge” function: http://www.tripit.com/account/merge
Tip: There’s a hidden option to add yourself to a blacklist as I have done: Note: Even after you’ve closed your account, it’s possible that you could receive email from people you know inviting you to connect or view itineraries on TripIt. If you are confident that you never want to be contacted through TripIt again, you can add your email address to our ‘do not contact’ list.
I received one of these just today, so Mr. President does not know what he is talking about – or more likely, he does. I received it from a friend who did not know it was being sent to me. When I went to the site, I couldn’t reply to my friend or even search for him unless I gave Tripit access to my address book. NOT! Someone needs to shut these guys down. They might be a useful service, but I am a travel writer and will be letting everyone know about their unacceptable tactics to recruit business.
A useful little item called ethics is being totally ignored here. You would think all the people who are singing Tripit’s praises would catch on!
I agree–PURE SPAM!
I also received apologies–after my whole inbox, going back years was captured. And look at today’s date: July 29, 2009, almost a whole year after this article was written.
Can’t we report this scammy company?
Hate this company. They spammed my entire address book twice, when I specifically demanded that they not do so.
This company needs to go down.
Terrible, receiving spam on my personal AND my business email addresses. Does anybody know how they do it? The only way I could think of is that they got my personal via facebook and my business via linkedin. This means that the person who ‘sent’ this to me, would have entered both his facebook and linkedin account password, how stupid!
When do we finally get rid of this blind trust from people who just publish their personal details all over the web? As long as those people exist, bad guys like tripit.com will make advantage of it.. :(
I use tripit regularly. It is the greatest and a wonderful free service. Sure there are adds but I found the prices from Hertz better than any I otherwise qualified for.
Whether it’s a great program or not, I just got a spam from some David guy that I don’t know. I’ll never know whether the service is any good because I immediately deleted this.
What the heck. Doesn’t the marketing department at Tripit have a clue?
For anyone who understands the audience, the tone of the email screams that this is totally junk. If it’s a bona-fide application, then use bona-fide techniques to market it. Not this nonsense.
By the way, I got the first spam today, which is about 2 years from the first post on this page.
Dear Gregg Brockway
BS! It’s not a bug – you are!
If it was a bug why do you still spam me? I never used your service – never will. I never gave you my e-mail, I never showed interest in your product and I never accepted that you can send me e-mails intending to sell me something. (That means you already violated this countries laws.)
TripIt has been spamming me for months now. This:
probably has something to do with it.
TripIt is SPAM as I get emails, never signed up, but can’t unsubscribe without creating an account? Where do you report SPAM such as this?
Hi, I work for TripIt. I’m sorry that some people have been annoyed by emails they’ve received from us. In most cases, it will be friends and colleagues trying to share a trip with you. It’s certainly possible that we have marketing emails that were sent as a result of those initial emails. If no one responds to a share-trip request, we cannot tell if they are disinterested, didn’t read the email, or hate us with the heat of 10,000 suns.
We have a email blacklist, and we’re happy to add people to it. If you never want any email from TripIt, just write to us at su*****@tr****.com and we’ll take care of it. We obviously have no interest in contacting people who do not want to use our services — but we’re not mind-readers, either.
Manager, Mobile Development