Would Sears Abuse Your Email Address?

While in the thrall of the Holiday Spirit, one of our staff members went out on a limb and joined the Sears Craftsman Club. “How bad could it be?” he thought. “Surely Sears wouldn’t abuse my trust in giving them my email address.  If there’s a problem, I’ll just unsubscribe and it’ll be over.”

Five unsubscribe requests later he’s still getting unwanted email from Sears.

The first message was “Welcome to Craftsman Club. Start Saving Today!“. This one contained a member ID and an explanation that a membership card would be arriving in the mail soon. Okay.

The next message was “Welcome to Craftsman Club Rewards. Start Earning Today!“. This one explained how the program works. So far so good.

After that, no messages for over ten days. Hey this might not be so bad!

Then they started pushing the envelope:

January 1:  Panasonic 50″ HDTV Just $699.99. 12 Months No Payments

January 3:  Tonight Only | Extra 10-15% Off Some of Your Favorite Things

January 4:  Don’t Miss Special Kenmore Offers Inside!

Okay, he gave them the benefit of the doubt and deleted the first few messages but this was turning out to be a bit too much.

Time to unsubscribe.

Sears Unsubscribe Page

Please don't leave us! (click image to view full size)

The unsubscribe page begs you to stay. No surprise there.

First they offer some alternative frequencies. 4-6 emails a month? Once a week? Will you stay if we promise to annoy you less?

And if you still want to leave:  Please tell us why?

No option for “I’m not interested in improving your spam effort.” Oh well, click the unsubscribe button, problem solved.

Then again, maybe not.

January 6: Deals & Steals: 50% Off Shoes & Boots

Unsubscribe.

January 7: Thank You for Your Craftsman Club Rewards Purchase

Okay, that’s relevant. A bit late but still relevant.

January 8: Your Turn Now: $300 Off NordicTrack, Just $799

Unsubscribe again.

January 9: Don’t Miss Out! V.I.P. Savings is One Night Only!

And again.

January 10: Happy New You: 15% Off All Kenmore Appliances

And once more.

Maybe they think unsubscribe means “Send me more email.”

So far it looks like Sears is totally ignoring unsubscribe requests and treating the customer like a tool.

Of course Sears could honor the letter of the law (while completely ignoring the spirit) by maintaining several lists and forcing users to unsubscribe from one list at a time.  However, if this was the case, we’d expect two things:

  1. The messages should come from different addresses. Nope. These are all from sears@value.sears.com except for the Craftsman Club messages which are from craftsmanclub@value.sears.com. (On the plus side, if they keep it up it’ll be easy to make a rule to block them.)
  2. There should be a “global” unsubscribe option that would allow us to unsubscribe from all of their lists. No such luck. The unsubscribe screen is the same as the one above every time and there’s no “Unsubscribe from all Sears marketing lists” option.

Oh and there’s this fine print – “Please note: You may continue to receive Promotional email communications from other Sears Holdings Management Corporation affiliated brands unless and until you have unsubscribed from receiving Promotional email messages from the individual brand; and when you place an order at Sears and provide your email address as a method of contact, you will still receive email notification of your order status.”

Nice.

And one final clue: Clicking on the unsubscribe link in messages that have already been unsubscribed still gets you the unsubscribe page. In a well managed email marketing campaign the unsubscribe page should know if the address has already been removed. This one doesn’t.

So, we’re left with the conclusion that Sears has no regard for your preferences where spam email marketing is concerned. If this keeps up, we’ll post more on the subject. In the mean time, don’t give Sears your email address unless you really enjoy being abused.

UPDATE: Apparently five unsubscribe requests was enough. Two weeks later, there have been no new emails from sears@value.sears.com.

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11 Responses to “Would Sears Abuse Your Email Address?”

  1. Ben says:

    I purchased a snow blower on 12/8/2009 through sears.com (in store pickup), and started to receive junk mail a few days later. I was annoyed since I had never signed up for this, I only made a purchase. There was the unsubscribe link and it’s “Sears” so I assumed a simple unsubscribe and I’d never have to think about it again. But, like your friend, I’ve now received 13 emails and have unsubscribed to almost all of them. They just keep coming. Maybe 13 is my lucky number.

    All from sears@value.sears.com
    1/11/2010 – Happy New You: 15% Off All Kenmore Appliances?
    1/6/2010 – Deals & Steals: 50% Off Shoes & Boots?
    1/2/2010 – It’s Your Turn Now – Redeem Your Gift Card Today!?
    1/1/2010 – Panasonic 50″ HDTV Just $699.99. 12 Months No Payments?
    12/30/2009 – Kenmore For Less: 20% Off All Kenmore Appliances?
    12/29/2009 – Hurry! No Interest, No Payments on Almost Everything at Sears?
    12/27/2009 – Ty Pennington Bed Sets All Sizes Just $99.99?
    12/27/2009 – Get $5 Off $50 & Shop the After-Christmas Clearance?
    12/26/2009 – Doorbusters Saturday: $350 Off ProForm Treadmill?
    12/23/2009 – Last Minute Gift Sale: Gifts Under $100, Diamonds Included?
    12/21/2009 – Buy Online, Pick Up in Store & Save Big!?
    12/9/2009 – Sears Order Ready for Pick-up?
    12/9/2009 – Welcome to Sears.com Email Savings!?

    I know where I won’t be shopping any time soon!

  2. Julie says:

    It takes five? I’ve unsubscribed more than that and still receive garbage from Sears. Also, I emailed them several times requesting they remove me. I was promised I’d been removed but to no avail.
    Now they won’t even reply to my emails. . .

    I’m going CRAZY! Any advice?!

  3. Joey says:

    I have this issue too. After doing the unsubscribe button I now get them from land’s end. The land’s End email had a phone number to call. They took my address and forwarded it on to the technical support. Probably a wasted call but we shall see.

  4. OnlyMyEmail Anti-Spam Team says:

    Julie,

    The only suggestion we have is to keep unsubscribing. We’re only suggesting that because it worked for us. We only saw mail from two different lists but they may have added some since we posted.

    This disclaimer indicates that they’re maintaining multiple lists: “Please note: You may continue to receive Promotional email communications from other Sears Holdings Management Corporation affiliated brands unless and until you have unsubscribed from receiving Promotional email messages from the individual brand; and when you place an order at Sears and provide your email address as a method of contact, you will still receive email notification of your order status.”

    As we noted in the original post, one way to get around the CAN-SPAM act is to maintain multiple lists and force the recipient to unsubscribe from each one. So, if you assume that you already unsubscribed and delete messages that appear to be from the same list, you may also be throwing away a chance to unsubscribe from what is actually a different list.

  5. Gregg Fowler says:

    I just did a search for sears spam and wound up here. I have the same issue currently and have unsubscribed at least four times. I finally added them to my spam filter. Not sure if they realize that they are losing more customers than making sales when they do this. Sears is on the ropes right now, somewhat desperate maybe to be competitive, but ignoring unsubscribe requests is certainly no way to do it.

  6. Mike Sharp says:

    I’m sick of their spam, that’s for sure. I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve unsubscribed. I’ve also filed more than one abuse report with the email marketing company, Responsys, that actually sends the email. You can let them know it angers you as well: abuse@abuse.responsys.net or abuse@responsys.com

    Or, you can call them on the phone to complain:

    Responsys Americas

    Headquarters
    900 Cherry Avenue, 5th Floor
    San Bruno, CA 94066
    Office: (650) 745-1700
    Sales: (800) 624-5356
    Fax: (650) 745-1701

    San Francisco
    717 Market Street, 8th Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    Office: (415) 278-5400
    Sales: (800) 624-5356
    Fax: (415) 278-5401

    Chicago
    225 W. Washington St., Suite 1125
    Chicago, IL. 60606
    Phone: (800) 624-5356

    New York
    149 Fifth Avenue, 4th Floor
    New York, NY 10010
    Office: (212) 953-9470
    Sales: (800) 624-5356

    Denver
    1407 Larimer Street, Suite 300
    Denver, CO 80202
    Phone: (800) 624-5356

    Seattle
    915 E. Pine Street, Suite 400
    Seattle, WA 98122
    Phone: (206) 720-7900
    Fax: (206) 720-7901

    Good luck, and may Sears rot forever in bankruptcy. Years ago, I used to be a loyal customer of Sears, but no more. Repeatedly sending unwanted spam is a sure-fire way to lose customers.

    Mike

  7. OnlyMyEmail Anti-Spam Team says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for compiling all of these Responsys contacts. Maybe they’ll get the message. In our experience though, direct marketing companies like Responsys and Constant Contact tend to have one foot in the gutter so don’t expect them to be in a hurry to take your email address off any of their lists.

  8. Doug Kennedy says:

    I too got snared in the slimy pit of spam known as Sears. I suddenly and unexpectedly started getting junk mail from Land’s End, every day. The mail was directed to sears@{mydomain.com}, where mydomain.com is my personal email domain. That was the address that I entrusted to Sears.

    Guess where that mail goes now? Right in to the bit bucket where it belongs.

    Thanks for betraying my trust, Sears.

  9. wayne poppens says:

    I have called at least 8 times to PLEASE take me off your e-mail. I ordered a lawn mower for my brother almost a year ago. thats all I wanted and did get it.BUT THATS ALL I want from Sears not all these dang e-mails. So please please let this be the last time I have to get ahold of Sears.Thank you .

  10. OnlyMyEmail Anti-Spam Team says:

    Wayne,

    You should go to sears.com and lodge your complaint there. We are a spam filtering company. If you used our service we could block the offending emails for you but you’ll have to go to the source to get them stopped. Sorry.

  11. Otis Rylander says:

    Sears spam (twice-daily roofing, cooling, siding, etc.) does indeed come from Sears. And they like it. And they defend it.

    Although these spams have many of the earmarks of phishing, they are actually from Sears. I never signed up for e-mail from TrueWebOffers, and searching for an entity named TrueWebOffers yields no results. The URL http://www.ash-falken.de goes to a very odd page about vacation rentals, which is a front.

    Here is my latest e-mail from Sears on this subject:

    Social Media Support smsupport@searshc.com
    to “otis75 @dslextreme.com”
    date Sat, May 21, 2011 at 7:51 AM
    subject RE: SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT/OTIS/CASE 3606966/UNSOLICITED 3/KL
    mailed-by searshc.com

    hide details 7:51 AM (3 hours ago)

    Hi Otis:

    We would like to correct your perception that we don’t care. We do care. Otherwise, we would not have responded to your email in the first place.

    Secondly, you are absolutely right. I will quote you the company line. That’s what a conscientious employee does. We like working at Sears.

    Thirdly, the response I gave you is the only fix I know for SPAM. I am not aware of anyone at Sears whose primary job it is to prevent SPAM. In my opinion (perhaps not Sears’) SPAM is as much a part of the Internet as commercials are of network TV–although SPAMMERS don’t generally pay for their time slot and frequently don’t get anyone’s permission. The Internet is vast and perhaps not worth the time and resources it would take to gain the kind of control you espouse.

    I apologize that I can’t be more help to you. I have no one else to forward your concerns to. I am your Senior Case Manager at Sears corporate. If you write to the CEO, your letter will come back to me. I will have the same answer that I provided in my previous email. I suggest you click Unsubscribe at the bottom of the unwanted email or identify as SPAM in your inbox so unwanted emails go to your SPAM folder. Thank you for your input.

    Thank you,

    Kirk L.

    Social Media Support – Senior Case Manager

    Phone: 800-573-8431 ext. 10318

    Email: smsupport@searshc.com

    Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (CDT)

    —————————
    SEARS PURPOSELY SPONSORS THIS CRAP, NOW SENT FROM GERMANY TO CIRCUMVENT THE FTC, AS IF THE FTC CARED.

    All I can do is what I did last month: buy appliances (a new dryer) and everything else somewhere else. Anywhere else. Except Orchard Supply, which used to be a great hardware store and went to hell when purchased by Sears. I have to assume Sears sent all former Orchard Supply employees to a class where they learned how to flee from customers with questions and forget anything they previously knew about hardware. Or Orchards.