Vonage is harvesting names from their refer-a-friend program to send spam promotions.
I am a Vonage customer. In December, 2004 I entered 18 friends’ email addresses in their refer-a-friend program. This was clearly intended to be a one-time referral, on an opt-in basis, from me to my friends. 30 months later ….
Vonage crossed all lines of good taste, privacy, and ethics. They send a mass email to my friends — USING MY NAME — in a shameless promotion. In fact, my name was used in the email 3 times, as if I had endorsed the message and gave permission to use my friends’ names.
- Vonage is harvesting names from their refer-a-friend program to send spam promotions.
- Vonage is violating their customers privacy by using data from customer accounts for a marketing campaign.
- Vonage has used their customers names for testimonials without permission of the customers.
Wow. Vonage is so evil on so many levels. And stupid.
What they did …
- creates massive, insane anger
- is illegal – violates both CAN-SPAM and privacy statutes
- perverts the trust of their best customers, those who were willing to recommend them to their friends
- turns influentials into enemies
Warning: If you use the Vonage refer-a-friend program, they will harvest your friends’ email address and spam them for years, using your name.
If this has happened to you:
1. Repost this message (and link back here)
2. Comment on this blog If the rest of their customers are as angry as I am, this won’t be the end of it.
3. Digg this
(The saddest thing is that Vonage could have been a truly great company. Google great, Salesforce.com great. All they had to do was not be the phone company — a very low bar. But they are so much more horrible that even the phone companies ever were. Worse service, worse support, and a crappy attitude. What a shame.)
- Vonage community forum Customers are getting angry. This is a site NOT controlled by Vonage, and they are about to see the power of their community.
- Matt Blumberg, ReturnPath: What An Ugly Way to Use Email
- Shel Israel: Slimeball award
- Michael Parekh: Ill-advised marketing tactics
- Daniel Terdiman, CNET
- Jordan Ayan, SubscriberMail: They could not have really thought this through
- Janine Popick, VerticalResponse: Vonage has bad email practices
- Mark Brownlow: How the Internet Maginifies Your Mistakes
- Mike Clark: Vonage abusing your friends
- MailChimp: Vonage abuses tell-a-friend program
- AWeber: Why Permissions’ Not Optional
- Al Iverson: Vonage did what?
Update: Feel free to contact Vonage directly. They shared my email, so feel free to use theirs.
Meghan Shaw, 732-203-7133, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Arena, 732-203-7372, email@example.com
Michael de Senna, 732-231-6576, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Yocca, 732-528-2677, email@example.com