Good emailing practices


The image featured here is a true-life example. What’s more, it comes courtesy of a user who prides herself in cleaning up her spam bucket – well, if not regularly, then at least from time to time.

Yet, her spam folder contains a massive load of almost 600 messages.

You as a bidorbuy seller – or, for that matter, buyer – would not like to contribute to that flood of unwanted email messages, would you?

Sadly, we have to report that some of you do it, albeit with best intentions, which may be to increase your business, or to share something funny.

First of all, let us try to clarify what is spam. According to Spamhaus Project, the word “spam” as applied to emails refers to unsolicited bulk emails. “Unsolicited” means that the recipient has not given permission for the message to be sent; “bulk” means that a message with basically same content is sent to multiple addresses.

Sellers, it follows that it is perfectly acceptable – and even desirable from a business point of view – to ask the people who buy from you on bidorbuy whether they would like to receive your special offers in future. If the answer is yes, include the address into your bulk emailing database. If the answer is no, or if there is no answer, do not send any more offers to that address.

Also, be aware that people have the right to change their mind: include the unsubscribe option in all your commercial emails and respect all such requests.

Buyers too have been known to commit emailing faux pas. They will sometimes add a seller’s address to their emailing list and proceed to send jokes, wise sayings, or chain letters. What’s more, they will usually do it the CC way, so that everyone in their circle can see everybody else’s address. In no time at all, the seller from our story could  become entangled in a joyous little (or not so little) circle of individuals who like nothing better than to comment on each other’s latest funnies. Not wanting to appear rude, the hapless recipient often suffers in silence.

Instead of contributing to the (rising) level of annoyances in the world, ask for permission to include a newly obtained address into your weekly (or daily) funnies emailing list. That is the basic rule of the digital communications etiquette.

And this is what South African law says about spam:

(1) Any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications to consumers, must provide the consumer:
(a) with the option to cancel his or her subscription to the mailing list of that person; and
(b) with the identifying particulars of the source from which that person obtained the consumer’s personal information, on request of the consumer.
(2) No agreement is concluded where a consumer has failed to respond to an unsolicited communication.
(3) Any person who fails to comply with or contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to the penalties prescribed in section 89(1).
(4) Any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications to a person who has advised the sender that such communications are unwelcome, is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to the penalties prescribed in section 89(1).

(Source: South African Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002, Unsolicited goods, services or communications)

In case you are wondering, the section 89 (1) mentions a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.

Also see: the bidorbuy Forum posts on the subject of unsolicited emails.

The bidorbuy anti-spam policy.