EcoPhones tries to justify their spam

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Last month I called out EcoPhones for spamming me. Over the course of the last few years I’ve gotten spam to several Scout-related email addresses I have, to mailing lists I’m on, and to a honeypot email address (an email address hidden on a web site and only used to attract spam scrapers).

Within a few days a search for "EcoPhones Lankford" on Google turned up my post on the front page. A week later, and I’m the number two search result on Google for EcoPhones—right behind the company’s site.

That sure caught their attention. The company’s COO Walter Engelbrecht left a comment chastising me for casting their company in a negative light. After all, he says, they perform good deeds.

EcoPhones has helped more than 20,000 schools, churches and community groups nationwide raise in excess of $1,500,000 while recycling more than 100 tons of potentially hazardous cellular waste.

And, he continues, if I don’t want their spam, I can always ask them to stop sending it. He concludes by suggesting I’m giving the wrong message about EcoPhones...

We understand you’re upset but your negative posting sends the wrong message to the vast number of young scout troops across the country eager to participate in their communities.

I replied in the comments, but I figure such good stuff shouldn’t be buried in a comment page. There’s some great arguments against spamming in general. So here it is...

Walter,

You’re a worthy cause in the same sense that disease-bearing rats are a valuable part of the ecosystem. I’m sure they have their uses, but I don’t want them in my house.

I’ve re-read my blog and realized that I’m not sending the right message. The message I intended to send was to point out that EcoPhones is a disreputable organization that any scout troop should avoid like the plague.

A company with such a low ethical bar that they’d resort to spamming scouting volunteers isn’t the sort of company that matches Scouting’s ideals.

If you’re a scouting organization and want to run a cell phone recycling fundraiser, give http://www.eco-cell.org/ a try. I don’t have any connection to them and haven’t used them, but as far as I can tell, they perform the same service and don’t spam individuals and mailing lists.

You see, marketers who care about other people use opt-in email marketing. They respect my time. They don’t attempt to co-opt my resources for their own gains.

If you were a worthwhile company you would spend your own money on your advertising instead of spending mine.

The fact that I have an email address on a Scouting web site doesn’t give you or anyone else the right to flood my mailbox with commercial offers. In searching for your company, I’ve found numerous email lists that you’ve spammed, often repeatedly, with your offers. Did those email lists have a leadership position in a scout troop too? Be truthful. Any non-profit organization that might need money is a target for the crap you’re peddling. If you can scrape an email address, you’ll send the trash, hoping it reaches a warm body.

Lowlife scumbags like porn peddlers, counterfeit watch dealers, and financial scammers promote their goods with spam. Be mindful of the company you keep lest you be painted by the same brush.

You want to start giving back to the community? Start by renouncing your spamming ways.

Clay Smith
November 1, 2006 8:21 PM

Amen, brother. It's unfortunate how many similar seedy companies exist feeding upon the ignorance of the non-profit community. I like to think though, that like yourself, the great majority of Scout volunteers remember the Scouting way in all of their dealings.

Walter Engelbrecht
November 9, 2006 9:09 AM

Adam, As a former Boy Scout myself I sincerely invite you to visit us at our main office in Dallas, TX. It is my hope that once you've see the tremendous community service we provide you might reconsider your opinion of us. Our offices are located at: EcoPhones 15054 Beltway Addison, TX 75001 (888) Eco-Phones Lastly, I've included our Dun & Bradstreet credit rating number, i.e. DUNS 12-002-0289, which demonstrates our superior payment history to our growing base of 20,000+ schools, churches and community groups such as the Scouts. Lastly, you are correct - www.eco-cell.org is also a very reputable company. Thank you. Regards, Walter Engelbrecht EcoPhones

Adam Kalsey
December 24, 2006 9:17 AM

My opinion of you us that you're a spammer. As long as you send spam, you'll always be a spammer. Regardless of what noble causes you're trying to promote, regardless of your credit rating, regardless of anything else you do, if you market via spam, you are by definition a spammer. And spammers are scum. You apparently don't like being called a spammer because you keep showing up here to defend yourself. So stop spamming, and people will stop calling you a spammer.

Concerned with your attitude, sir
December 27, 2006 12:27 PM

My goodness! The most unfortunate part of this entire article is your sour attitude Mr. Kalsey. As a representative of the scouting world, I would hope that you could better address situations. As spamming can cause interuptions in anyones day, this company is trying to promote something worth while. Comparing this company and "porn peddlers" is out of line and you should be ashamed of yourself. I would certainly not let you, an anti-spammer (yes, we got it), be a part of any child's upbringing. Shame on you!

Adam Kalsey
December 27, 2006 1:15 PM

Odd, I don't see the place where I compared them to pornographers. What I did say is that the advertising technique they are using is used primarily by swindlers and porn peddlers. Hopefully, a reputable organization would realize that this isn't the company they should keep. What a spammer is attempting to promote is irrelevant. The ends do not justify the means. Regardless of how worthwhile your cause is, if you promote it by spam, you are harming yourself and, in a growing number of jurisdictions, committing a crime. Spam far worse a problem than "interruptions in [your] day" as you suggest. Spam costs businesses billions of dollars annually. Spam shifts the costs of advertising from the advertiser to consumers and employers. Spam ties up mail systems and prevents legitimate, often important, email from being received. It is a growing problem, with some estimates showing that 90% of email sent today is spam up from 30% only a couple of years ago. Perhaps EcoPhones should take to promoting their fine service with graffiti sprayed onto the walls of others. After all, they're promoting something so worthwhile and virtuous that the abuse of others resources shouldn't be an issue. Lastly, I'm dismayed that someone anonymously asserting themselves to be "a representative of the scouting world" would suggest they have the right to determine who should be allowed to raise a child. I'm embarrassed that someone with Shame on *you* for hiding behind a pseudonym and preaching from your high horse. I'm willing to show my name, my face, and even my contact information. Your company email address and the ISP you used to post the comment are both in Dallas. Is there perhaps a connection between you and EcoPhones?

Adam Kalsey
December 27, 2006 1:22 PM

Actually after re-reading the original comment, I'm unsure whether the anonymous commenter is claiming to be a representative of scouting or saying that I am said representative.

Adam Yensen
September 3, 2008 6:47 AM

Good deeds? This company acts like they recycle. All they do is pay you WAY TO CHEAP OF A PRICE for a cell phone or ink, fix it or fill it and sell it at retail. Example: They will pay you $5 for a RAZR V9. You can go on ebay and sell a V9 BROKEN, dunked in water for $50. Ill take my phones to ebay where I can actually get decent money. After they spend $20 to fix up the phone they bought for $5, they can sell it for $150.00. The margins go back in their pocket and more should be going to the people who donate. RIP OFF!!!!

Matt Sherwood
October 14, 2008 12:10 PM

Adam... Get off your soapbox. I'm run a technology program in California and students send in 1000's of old (almost useless) phones and ink cartridges. I'm sure they get 25 junky phones for every decent phone. Ecophones takes them all without questions. They don't make us sort them and they pay for shipping. They give us something for every piece of junk I send in. So yes, Ecophones is a decent organization and they are doing a good deed. Aim your venom at real scammers and spammers

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