So Close, And Yet…

Sometimes people make a real effort to follow the basic rules of bulk email only to fall at the last hurdle.

I’ve just got a bulk email from Prospect (no, I’d never heard of them either, I wonder when I signed up for their mailings). As is usual with these things, they really want you to read the HTML version. But they do bother to attach a plain text version for luddites like me. And they do include within that plain text version a link so you can read the full HTML version on their web site.

Or… at least… they think they do. Actually, what the text version contains is this text:

If you can not see this email please follow this link

And that’s it. There’s no link to follow.

A quick look at the HTML version reveals what has happened. The HTML version contains this:

If you can not see this email please follow this <a href=”…”>link</a>

But to create the plain text version they have passed the HTML version through some kind of HTML stripper. And that has removed the tag. Leaving them with plain text that is meaningless. So whilst they’ve tried to help the non-HTML-reading luddites, they’ve ended up potentially confusing them.

I bet they paid some bulk mail company a lot of money to handle this mailing for them. And I bet someone in Prospect raised the question of plain text versions. And I bet the bulk mailers said “sure, we have code that handles that”. But it didn’t. So I hope someone in the bulk mail company gets in a lot of trouble.

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