Exclusive: 1-800-Flowers Spam 'Was the New Guy'
By Ken Magill
And from the all’s-well-that-ends-well file comes the story behind 1-800-Flowers earning a listing on anti-spam outfit Spamhaus’s blocklist and then being delisted within 24 hours.
Spamhaus—which blocklisted 1-800-Flowers on April 28 and removed the listing by April 29—maintains a list of emailers it deems as spammers. Internet service providers and email administrators can set their systems up to check incoming email against Spamhaus’s list in order to help them identify and block incoming spam.
Though there are about 150 anti-spam blocklists—or blacklists as they are also called—Spamhaus is one of the few that matter. A listing on Spamhaus reportedly results in serious email delivery troubles.
1-800-Flowers’ listing last week led some to speculate that the incident may have had something to do with its email service provider Epsilon’s infamous data breach where someone or group gained unauthorized access to millions of Epsilon’s clients email files.
According to Steve Linford, executive director of all-volunteer Spamhaus, the 1-800-Flowers spam snafu had nothing to do with Epsilon. The listing was the result of the actions of a new employee at 1-800-Flowers, he said.
Also according to Linford, the 1-800-Flowers spamming/blocklisting incident was a textbook case of how to properly deal with getting listed on a prominent anti-spam blacklist.
“The SBL [spam blocklist] team has been working with Epsilon to help pinpoint the problem in the 1-800-Flowers list, which we understand was caused by a new staff member pulling some data for 'Mothers Day' mailings from ‘very old files’ which included data from ‘now-defunct acquisition programs’. (There's a lesson there in not keeping old co-registration files around),” wrote Linford in an email exchange with the Magill Report.
“We regard Epsilon as responsible and honest, and incidents like this as flukes which, when brought to their attention, are very quickly handled,” he wrote.
Linford also had praise for 1-800-Flowers.
“1-800-Flowers also reacted very quickly to suspend the mailings and find the problem, and Spamhaus suspended the SBL listing as soon as Epsilon told us they'd stopped the mailing and were working with the customer on the problem,” wrote Linford.
Author’s note: Isn’t it great when anti-spammers and marketers can get along? Okay everyone! Sing with me! Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya…