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Email Gone Crazy

Whenever a new link is added to the Healthlinks directory we send a courtesy email message to the web site contact notifying them of their inclusion. Oftentimes we either uncover an invalid email address listed for the web site, or we receive an automatic response acknowledging receipt of our email.

Recently while adding a link to the database for the sites auto responder (software that automatically replies to email messages) either started running amuck, or was installed incorrectly and sent us over 400 replies to our message. While this is a problem that can happen to any web site or email program, it is still a nuisance and needs to be fixed ASAP.  In this case,  despite the fact I telephoned them, sent them several email messages notifying them of the problem and then finally started bouncing there messages back to them with threats to contact the attorney general of the state of California (we have laws about SPAM), I received no response.

The emails finally stopped after about 12 hours however what really galls me is I heard not a word from them, no apology, no thank you for notifying them of the problem, nothing!

This raised two questions that needs to be asked.

  1. Where does responsibility and obligation begin and end for companies like Microdental to be good Net citizens?

It is my belief that if a company or person wants to sell a product or provide information using the internet they have an obligation to insure that:

  1. There software is in good working order
  2. They monitor their web site to insure it is functioning correctly
  3. They read and respond to email messages in a timely manner
  4. They are good Net citizens and address problems they have created
  5. They do not misrepresent their company or products

Needless to say I spent a great deal of time trying to contact them and cleaning up my mailbox(s), and would have been satisfied with a simple Iím sorry.

The second question is:

What do you do if this happens to you?

Several actions can be taken with the first being an attempt to contact the webmaster to inform him/her they have a problem. If you are unable to either email them or telephone them, try the next steps:

  1. See if you can locate the hosting service for the offending web site. Several software tools are available to search the net for names and addresses tied to http addresses. You can also go to the Internic web site and do a search on the web address.
  2. Look for alternate email contacts at the offending web site and send them an email message.
  3. Contact you own ISP and let them know what the problem is. Often they can block the offending email address.
  4. If your state or country has laws relating to SPAM and unsolicited email, contact the authorities and file a complaint.

This is the second time I have had major problems with email coming for other sites and believe it will happen with greater frequency in the future. If you are the recipient of this type of problem, be proactive and complain rather than take a passive attitude and perhaps we together can make a change.

Stan Gelber



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