Publishing an email address for customers is bad business practice in the spam era?

The other day I emailed a fixed-based operator (FBO) to inquire about a fuel stop. I didn’t get an answer and we ended up going to their competitor, thus denying them a return on what is probably at least a $5 million investment in the hangar, lounge, fuel trucks, etc. It is a pretty bad business practice to ignore customers so I dug a little deeper and found out that my email had been caught by a spam filter. I asked if they were going to publish this address at all, why not set the spam filter to “low”? Their response:

We had to raise the spam filter due to the countless emails that came through and looked like they were legitimate only find out the hard way through a network virus they were not. It’s unbelievable the effort people put in trying to scam you. We would receive emails that look as if they came from our headquarters, but in fact were spam.

The regular phone system has already been made useless due to spam (see Set a minimum price for phone calls?) and now maybe we can declare straight-up email as also useless for this kind of public-facing role? Those “contact forms” on sites are kind of annoying, but maybe that is a good answer? (but they usually get sent to someone’s email, right?) What about publishing a Whatsapp address or similar?


8 thoughts on “Publishing an email address for customers is bad business practice in the spam era?

  1. 1) publish email and contact info on website as an image rather than text (harder for bots to read); CloudFlare will do this automatically for you (it’s free, and takes just a few minutes to setup).
    2) use Gmail instead of running your on email server; imho they do the best job and have an army of resources fighting the spam wars on your behalf.

  2. @anon
    I’ve found GMail is pretty bad at spam. It takes 4 click to report spam, the false positive rate is horrendous, even from senders I have explicitly whitelisted, and why on earth are they asking whether they should click the unsubscribe link on my behalf, when the universal consensus is it’s a bad idea because it confirms to spammers this is a valid address?

  3. The FBO IT guy is incompetent.

    First of all, they would have one email address for the general public, and another for internal messages from headquarters. It is ridiculous to complain that they cannot give an email address to the public without losing or confusing emails from headquarters.

    Second, use Google or Microsoft or Yahoo to filter spam. It is foolish for them to run their own spam filter, unless they have some guy watch it very carefully.

  4. George even if you have two or three or N email accounts they can all be found by spammers. They are all full of junk mail for legit and non legit senders. Think about it. How many “junk” emails that are semi legit do you get a day from your cruise line and your car service and your carpet cleaner and so forth. Spam is much worse than just “junk” ads for viagra.

    The problem is modern tools allow everyone and every business to send thousands of junk emails and ads. So we need some sort of rule to stop all this junk advertising.

  5. The phone still works when you want to call 911 or the airport, but mostly it’s an intrusive nuisance, now. It’s funny, you’ve described how the phone system and email have had their utility significantly eroded by race-to-the-bottom marketing activity. It certainly seems to have been gradual, it’s hard to say when the switch happened. Could we already be past that point with the regular web as well? Some huge amount of our online activity is directed by elaborate marketing schemes. (Facebook, Google, Ad Networks.) Will it be immediately perceptible when the net ceases serving our interests and predominantly serves theirs? I appreciate the utility of Google’s search, but the founders’ jets are nicer than the executive transports for the heads of state of real countries.

  6. Actually this is pretty easy. Face to face communication arranged by your brother, or if you want to take risks, your brother in law.

  7. My yahoo! email is worthless! Even the non-junk account. I have had luck with an account with an email provider based in a foreign country that begins with the letter R run by a figure with the initials VP. I’m not sure why, but I never get spam there.

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