Shining a spotlight on the companies that spam

Mountaineers and farmers trading mules and horses on "Jockey St.," near the Court House, Campton, Wolfe County, Ky. (LOC)

I am tired of all the spammy phone calls, faxes and emails from companies trying to sell me stuff. It’s mostly legal but I think it’s time to shine a spotlight on these people.

Update: At the moment unsolicited direct marketing is permissible under our law. Contrary to popular opinion, the Consumer Protection Act does not change this situation although it does specifically state that the right to privacy includes being able to opt-out. Even the new Protection of Personal Information Bill probably won’t change this in any significant way.

That said, marketers could do better. Buying massive databases in the hopes of fractions of percentages of people responding is not consumer friendly. Social media offers a couple options and marketers need to grow up some more.

What I’d like to do is set up some sort of community site where people can name the culprits who market stupidly but spamming consumers. I’m not sure what the best platform is? Some sort of wiki? Twitter with hashtags aggregated on a page? What do you think? Interested?


I managed to publish this post twice and received comments on both. I deleted the second post but didn’t want to lose Charl van Niekerk‘s comment which was as follows:

Sounds like an excellent idea; I share your frustration. My only problem is, how would one prevent this from being abused. “I don’t like company X or person Y so now I’m going to try my best to discredit them publically.”

Its a good point so I have a couple ideas about what the features of such a system should be:

  • Contributors should be required to use a real identity to post to the site. Transparency should go a long way towards minimizing abuse or helping site visitors determine credibility.
  • The entries should be pretty simple and perhaps be limited to naming the spammers involved and listing their details (phone, email, fax) together with a notation whether the contributor expressly opted out on receiving the call.
  • I’d like the site to be constructive and develop an awareness of what contributors may regard as best practices for this form of direct marketing (opt-in, alternative channels etc).






  1. Yossi Hasson avatar
    Yossi Hasson

    Paul, I’d like to partner up with you on this one.

  2. @standardbankgrp is freaking m avatar

    […] Disclosures ← Shining a spotlight on the companies that spam […]

  3. pauljacobson avatar

    I managed to publish this post twice. I deleted the second post, updated my original post and pasted Charl van Niekerk’s comment in the expanded post. Sorry about that!

  4. alidaonline avatar

    Great idea. I like that it still needs to be constructive and not just a public slagging-off of a company. In the case of SMS spam, including a transcript of the message would be good too?

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