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Mon May 3, 2021, 01:48 PM

Did You Get My Email? No? Check Your Spam Folder, Please.

Far too many companies have over-aggressive spam filters in their email systems. Since I'm doing a lot of correspondence these days that have to do with my late parents' estate, I am running into those spam filters far more often than I would expect.

Here's an example of how that interferes with a company's business: I ordered a marker for my parents' gravesite from a memorial company. I used the company's website to provide the basic information and to arrange for a discussion with someone about the design. The form on the website, of course, insisted on my address, cell phone number, and email address.

So, I got a call from the sales/design person. I gave him the wording to be used on the marker over the phone. He had my email address from that form I filled out on the website. So, he sent me proofs with different fonts and design elements on them last week, and a quote for the total cost of the thing (shocking!). The next morning, I replied to his email, approving of one of the designs and the price. I asked for an invoice to be sent to me, so I could mail them a check.

I heard nothing back by email. I just got off the phone with the person I talked to before. "Did you get my reply to your email?" I asked. "No," he said. I said, "Check your spam folder, please." He did. "Oh, there it is..." So, the invoice will arrive, I'll send my check for the inflated cost of the marker, and all will be accomplished. I should not have had to call him again.

This is far from the first time this has happened to me. I send an email and get no response from the company that wants me to pay for something. Every time, I call and the recipient finds my email in the "spam folder." It has happened to me multiple times in the past three months.

I find this shocking, to tell the truth. For a consumer-facing company to use an aggressive spam filter is very, very bad for business. That is especially true if the customer has provided his or her email address on a website form. A reasonably intelligent email system should automatically add such addresses to the OK Mail list, using the data supplied by customers on a website form. Further, if an employee sends an email to a customer, the customer's email should automatically be added to the OK Mail list by the email client application.

But, all too often, customer email replies or initial contacts by email get sent to the spam folder. The problem is the broad rules used by the email client's settings. Maybe it sends all emails originating from yahoo.com addresses to the spam folder. Or it dumps all emails with a blind CC address attached, even if that CC is to the sender of the email. Or, worst of all, it sends everything that comes in, except for manually added email addresses, to the spam folder. That last one is a default setting on some email client software.

Any business that deals with consumers directly through email communications needs to use a far less aggressive spam filter. Otherwise, business will be lost, and customers will contact a competitor. Why is that not understood by consumer-facing businesses? I don't get it at all.

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Reply Did You Get My Email? No? Check Your Spam Folder, Please. (Original post)
MineralMan Monday OP
spooky3 Monday #1
MineralMan Monday #2
Hugh_Lebowski Monday #6
MineralMan Monday #8
stopdiggin Monday #3
MineralMan Monday #4
stopdiggin Monday #5
Hortensis Monday #7

Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Mon May 3, 2021, 02:05 PM

1. Agree, but I wonder if sometimes they use this as an excuse

for overlooking email NOT in their spam folders, ie, human error.

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Response to spooky3 (Reply #1)

Mon May 3, 2021, 02:09 PM

2. I don't think so. I mean, that grave marker

costs almost $3K. That's how the company makes its money. No, the guy wouldn't have ignored my email, nor overlooked it. It was a reply to his email to me, with "Re: [his title]" as the subject line. It went to his spam folder. How many sales have been lost that way, I wonder?

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Mon May 3, 2021, 02:54 PM

6. It's POSSIBLE he overlooked it.

And in turn in possible he lied to you about it. Just saying

I think in a lot of cases with small companies they have small (or no) actual IT staffs. They just buy software products, use them in OOB configurations, and don't know how to do things like send the emails from the web contact form (one type of software product) to the whitelist in their email server (another product).

Also a reason one might not do what you're saying is because spammers know that they can get onto whitelists ... by filling out contact forms.

It's probably more a problem of 'cheapness' and 'lack of technical knowledge' than it is them not realizing they might be losing business. The cheapest, simplest way is to tell people it's their job to also check spam folder. But then they ... don't.

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #6)

Mon May 3, 2021, 03:22 PM

8. Well, since my email was a reply to his email

asking me to approve the design, well, I don't think he overlooked it.

The thing is, though, that I have learned to follow up if I don't get responses to emails like that. I called him, since it was likely that another email would have gone to the same spam filter. Not everyone would, though. That's how businesses lose customers.

I understand that small companies have no idea how their own email system works. But, people have been using email for over 25 years now. It's not really rocket science any more. I also understand that their web designers created that form used to set up phone appointments. That part worked fine. The guy called me at the time for the appointment. That went well. He also had my email address so he could send me the proofs. That's where the system broke down. I replied to his email and it went to the spam folder. I doubt that was the first time that had happened. I just don't understand how businesses survive when things like that happen and are not corrected. Clearly, they're using their web host's email server. They just don't understand how that stuff functions.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Mon May 3, 2021, 02:13 PM

3. you're right

And the basic problem here is lack of attention (or training) at the company. Many employees probably have no control over 'settings' (and there's probably a lot of smaller companies where 'no one' is doing so) -- but it is the work of mere seconds to at least check, and it should be part of an established routine. There are messages and warnings galore floating around the email environment "check your spam" -- if you're an employee and just not doing it, you're either not too bright -- or you're kind of a lazy slob that just doesn't care.

Incidentally, this goes for all of our 'private' email accounts too. If you're not checking (and flushing) that folder at least a couple times a week -- you're a bit of a numbskull.

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Response to stopdiggin (Reply #3)

Mon May 3, 2021, 02:19 PM

4. I've carefully trained my Yahoo Mail spam filter.

However, I check the folder every day for mail that accidentally went there, which is very, very rarely. Every day, first thing in the morning. You're right. Everyone should do that, but they don't.

I've had several website domains. I never use the email server services of the website host. Those are notoriously unreliable and generate literally tons of spam emails. Instead, I use my own email address, which I have been using since 1995.

What I do with the website hosting service is use their email server tools to automatically delete all email sent to all possible addresses connected with that domain. I essentially prevent the website domain from accepting any email at all.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #4)

Mon May 3, 2021, 02:29 PM

5. well -- that's a bit above my pay grade

and maybe some of the 'employees' in question here. But just basic 'good practice' (even with your everyday noob and country cousin) is going to eliminate a lot of the problem

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Mon May 3, 2021, 03:09 PM

7. That is amazing, and thanks for the heads up. It makes about as much

business sense as laying in tall piles of large and extra-large men's pants that never sell out and so few smalls that they disappear the first day or two. But that's been common practice in most clothing stores for decades.

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