August 27, 2001
Dear [Owner of firm]
I would like to bring to your attention two problems with your organization.
The first problem, is that I have found it nearly impossible to be deleted from your marketing database that you sell. On August 9, 2001, I called and spoke to Sylvia. She said that she would delete my name and address from your database. Unfortunately, this did not take place. Therefore, I would like to ask you to personally and immediately delete me from your database.
The second problem is more disconcerting and deals with the demeanor of one of your employees. On August 24, I spoke to Lisa and asked if I was still in your database. She said that she would check and let me know. However, not receiving a call back from her, I called her this afternoon August 28, at approximately 3:15 pm. I reminded her that she was going to call me back and asked her if I was still in the database. She said that I was still in the database and that she would delete me.
I then explained to her how I had called on August 9, and asked why my request had not been honored. She said "We all make mistakes. What more do you want?" I explained that there was a problem processing my original request and that I was concerned that other individuals might have an equally difficult time being deleted from your database and that I would like to help you identify and solve the problem.
But I must say that her tone of voice was increasing loud, argumentative, hostile and interrupting during our conversation. In answer to my question, she said "We made a mistake. Don't you make mistakes?" I then asked to speak with a manager about the problem and she said "I AM the manager." I then asked for the mailing address so that I could write the owner. She said "NO!"
I again stated that I was trying to identify and resolve a problem with management. She said that I was rude (I was rude?) and that she might have been more helpful if I were friendly. I suggested that yes, indeed we should start our conversation over from scratch. She said "NO!", and then said again irately "So we made a mistake - don't you make mistakes?"
By this time she was practically shouting at me. I said "Yes, I made a mistake by contacting..." and she interrupted me again. As she was hanging up on me I said "and having my name listed with organizations like you."
I called back a few minutes later and asked for your business mailing address. Lisa answered and said "We don't give out our address to assholes like you" and hung up.
Now, I never, ever, have used language like that on a business - or personal - call. I know it's difficult to reconstruct a telephone conversation in a letter. But I must ask you to consider the possibility that your employee is not the appropriate selection for an individual who has customer contact. In fact, in my company, such behavior is immediate cause for dismissal.
I ask you to please acknowledge my letter, as I am concerned that it will be intercepted and diverted by office staff. I also would like to offer to meet with you in person to discuss this further.
Two other major direct mailers in the area indicated that there was a long history of questionable ethics with this company.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has an Ethics & Consumer affairs department in Washington, DC. Pat Falley (202.861.2410) said that they will indeed help with the proglems caused by this company. Then on August 30, Bowles Pender (202.861.2407) wrote a letter to this company requesting that they respond on the issue. No response has yet been heard.
In addition, the DMA has not responded to me, notwithstanding phone calls and letters. This says it all about the real purpose of the DMA.
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