“Not sure how to say this — but just for fun I clicked on a credit card application, and then cancelled IMMEDIATELY! Well, two months later my count as of this day: 2948 spams for credit cards, loans, easy credit, etc. About 370 spams a week, or about 53 A DAY! While I know money support is nice, and I don’t subscribe to the paid edition of TourBus BUT if I did, would I get more moral staunchness on your part re: allowing spammers to use your site? SHAME ON YOU, BROTHER! — PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!!!!!”
I’ve Been Spammed! (And I’m Blaming You)
I get emails like this occasionally, from people who have visited the TOURBUS website, clicked on an advertisement and then were unhappy with the results. Some blame me for spam, others for customer service problems with the advertiser.
I can’t understand why some people have the misconception that every advertiser on a reputable website is somehow vetted or vouched for by the website operator. To think so would be applying a much different standard to the online world than to print or broadcast media.
If you pick up a copy of the NY Times and browse through the classifieds, certainly you don’t assume that everyone advertising there is completely honest, and that the Times is endorsing their product or service. And if you buy something from a TV infomercial, you don’t blame the television station if the product doesn’t meet your expectations.
So why are the concepts of “buyer beware” and “due diligence” conspicuously absent on the Internet?
Even for advertisers that appear in the TOURBUS newsletter, with whom I deal directly, there’s no way I can check them all out to ensure that everyone will always have a perfect purchasing experience. I do, however, have a policy of “If you can’t get satisfaction from the advertiser, I will personally make it right.” And of course I’ll no longer allow bad faith actors to advertise in the newsletter. But for the website ads, we don’t even have the means to check out individual advertisers. Because web ads are served by third-party advertising networks, we don’t even have control over which speficic ads appear on the site, except for the fact that they should be contextually relevant.
Protecting Your Privacy
Spam is the bane of the Internet, and we hate it as much as you do. In fact, the publishers of Tourbus have been quite active over the years in educating their readers about spam, where it comes from, and how to avoid it. Because we respect your privacy, we have always pledged that we will not rent, sell or otherwise reveal your e-mail address to any third party. And since we started in 1995, we never have!
Your email address is safe with us, but if you click away from the TOURBUS newsletter or website to a third party offering a product or service, you have to realize you’re on your own, and use the same caution that you would when making any purchasing decision — online of offline. That’s not because we’re mean or greedy, it’s just common sense.
(Oh, and for the record, there is no paid version of TOURBUS.)
BOB RANKIN… is a tech writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and sharing the fruit of his experience with others. His work has appeared in ComputerWorld, NetGuide, and NY Newsday. Bob is publisher of the Internet TOURBUS newsletter, author of several computer books, and creator of the http://LowfatLinux.com website. Visit Bob Rankin’s website for more helpful articles and free tech support.