– How Not To Send Email

Rojo is an RSS reader. I tried it out for a week or so last year, but soon decided that I still prefered Bloglines and forgot about Rojo.

That is, I forgot about them until a couple of weeks ago. Then I got an email from them. They had decided that they would start to send a weekly email to all of their users which summarised the last week’s exciting news in the world of RSS feeds.

There were a couple of problems with this. Firstly, I had never signed up for this. Whenever I sign up for a user account on a web site I never tick the boxes that say “I’d like you to send me marketing emails whenever you like”. I supposed that when I signed up with Rojo, this option didn’t exist. So they’ve now added that option. But they’ve added it for all users with the “please spam me” option turned on. So I had to go into my user account and specifically turn it off. They should have added it with the option turned off and allowed users to opt in rather than having to opt out.

The second problem was worse. I’ve mentioned before how (and why) I don’t read HTML email. My email program is configured to show me the plain text version of any mail I am send. Except Rojo sent me an HTML email which was labelled as plain text. So in my mail program I got a dump of raw HTML. For a technical company this is a basic error. It just makes them look completely unprofessional.

I replied to their mail, explaining these problems. Only to find that their email had been sent from an email address that didn’t accept email. I know this is becoming more common, but to my mind it’s just plain rude. But by rummaging around in the HTML I found a feedback address and sent my complains there. I got a nice reply saying that my mail had been passed on to the technical department.

And that was the situation a week ago. I had changed my account options to ask them not to send me mail and my points about the HTML email problem had been passed on to the technical department.

So imagine my surprise when I got another email from them this morning in exactly the same (broken) format. Their “please don’t spam me” account option doesn’t work. And they haven’t fixed their email.

I really wouldn’t consider using them. They obviously have either a total lack of knowledge about basic internet standards or they have chosen to completely ignore them.

Update: I’ve exchanged a couple of emails with Chris Alden the CEO of Rojo and I’m convinced that these were honest mistakes. They were mistakes that a serious technology company shouldn’t make, but they were mistakes none the less. Chris has also blogged on the subject.


  1. Of course, Ranchero (the makers of NetNewsWire) don’t email their users. They – of course – provide a RSS feed to which I subscribe.

    The whole concept of someone who makes an RSS reader thinking that the best way to keep in contact with their users is to email them boggles my tiny little mind.

  2. The whole concept of someone who makes an RSS reader thinking that the best way to keep in contact with their users is to email them boggles my tiny little mind.

    Excellent point. I hadn’t even thought of that.

  3. That was my first thought too.

    Anyway, give them heat. I was going to write an annoyed note myself at some point, because the TOS and other legal verbiage promises that you can terminate your account, except there is no way to do that and they have not reacted to my mails asking them to delete my account.

    But I haven’t gotten those weekly mailings from them, so maybe they did after all remove me… or maybe I was smart enough to give them a spamhole address. I don’t really remember.

  4. CD-WOW have just sent me an amazing email. Amazing for all the wrong reasons.I’m on their emailing list, as I requested, and receive a weekly email detailing CD and DVD offers. Fine. But I just received an email from them with the subject line “Had an accident” (without a question mark, even). This email turned out to be a massive load of images advertising an ambulance-chasing law firm who I won’t glorify here.Oh dear! What a mistake. The career of the marketer who sent out this email would be just about to “have an accident” if I ran that firm!As any good marketing professional will tell you, you don’t squander your customers’ permission to send you stuff with rubbish like this! You can do it once. After that you don’t have an audience any more.See Seth Godin’s book “Permission Marketing” for why this was such a big mistake.

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