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[icon] Where is the ethical boundary here? - Patti
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Subject:Where is the ethical boundary here?
Time:05:51 pm
Here's the deal. Some ditzbrain moron chick gave out my gmail address as her email address a while ago. She did this a few times, but the specific case that is problematic right now is that she signed up an affiliate for some sports/energy drink company. I know this because I keep getting email that should be sent to her.

Because she's a moron, I have the username and password for her account with this company. I know she's doing business with them because I keep getting UPS delivery notices of her orders. She has a relatively unusual name and lives in a small town in a flyover state, so it's pretty easy to figure out who she is and how to get in touch with her, even if I didn't have her contact info from the signup confirmation mail.

When this happened a while ago, I jumped through all kinds of hoops to get it straightened out. I tried to find a working email address for her, but failed, so I called her and left a message. When she returned my call I explained what was going on, got her correct email address, sent her confirmation email (which she never answered), and even logged into her account on the vendor's website and changed the email address to the one she told me. (And yet the delivery confirmation email is going to my gmail address. I don't understand.)

I'm still getting email addressed to her. I am Not Happy. In fact, I'm annoyed as all fuck and rapidly approaching vindictive.

(Edit: I missed a couple of options. I could also edit her affiliate web page, or order a bunch of shit and have it shipped to her... her credit card is on file.)

Poll #1559926 Is it unethical?

Given the effort that I've made to straighten this out, which of the following would you consider ethical?

Unsubscribing her from promotional email from the vendor
14(31.8%)
Changing her email address with the vendor back to the one she gave them (i.e. mine)
0(0.0%)
Changing her password so she can't order more shit
3(6.8%)
Changing her address so shit she ordered goes somewhere else
0(0.0%)
Canceling her account with the vendor
3(6.8%)

What would you do if you were me?

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cork_dork
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 01:06 am (UTC)
Call her once more; explain that you're still getting the emails from the vendor and she'll need to straighten it out ASAP (24 hours?). If it's not straightened out, delete the account; she can sign up again.

And add the vendor to your spam filter.
(Reply) (Thread)


sabyl
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 01:26 am (UTC)
Can you contact the vendor? Ask then to remove your email from all parts of their database. Somehow changing her email address is not completely wiping your address from their system.
(Reply) (Thread)


jcdill
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 01:30 am (UTC)
There are a lot of people who won't fix broken stuff with/on their computers until it causes them serious problems. The fact that the broken stuff is causing *other* people problems doesn't (usually) factor into this. This is why we have so many botnet controlled windoze systems out there - people know there's something wrong with their computer because it's running slowly but they can't be bothered to fix it until their ISP cuts them off for being a spam source.

You have given her ample notice and opportunity to fix this. So now you need to "cut her off" by unsubscribing from the vendor's marketing email, changing her password (on the account using YOUR email address) and then unsubscribing/canceling her account with the vendor entirely. However, before you do the last step, change info in her account settings - e.g. change her mailing address (or some other data field, or a series of data fields as available/necessary) to "do NOT send ANY email to (your email address) as this address does NOT belong to the person named in this account and was used without permission of the actual email account holder". This way if she calls their customer support number and tries to reactivate this same account (rather than opening a new one) over the phone they are put on notice that there's a major problem with the account's email info, and they shouldn't reactivate it without correcting the problem.

However, an easier option might be to poke around in her settings and see if there's a separate field for delivery email. It may be that one can have delivery confirmation sent to several email accounts - e.g. when you order something for your spouse you can have a delivery confirmation sent to your spouse's email so they know it's been ordered and is on its way. If you can locate and change that field, it would fix YOUR problem. I'd do that first. Then consider unsubbing, changing the password, and canceling. :-)
(Reply) (Thread)


yesthattom
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 02:12 am (UTC)
I agree.

People will not fix a problem unless they feel the pain. If you fix the problem for them (by unsubscribing her, etc.) then you have just encouraged the bad behavior.

I used to get a lot of "wrong number" phone calls asking for Eric. I would be polite, tell them of their mistake, etc, etc. The problem just got worse. I realized that "Eric" wasn't giving out the right number, or mumbled, or stuttered or was doing something that made people not get the right number when he gave it out.

So I changed tactics.

I would tell people that Eric's number has changed and give them the new number. I would give a 408 area code and make up 7 digits. I'd tell them that he moved out of New Jersey and now lives in California. Everyone was surprised, especially his grandmother.

Within a month I stopped getting these mis-dialed phone calls. I guess Eric started making a point to verify that people heard him correctly.

You need to act crazy so she'll feel pain and go away.
1. Cancel her account
2. Email her explaining that I KNOW YOU ARE GIVING OUT MY EMAIL ADDRESS TO HARASS ME. IF YOU DO IT AGAIN I'LL CALL THE POLICE! THIS IS BECAUSE OF WHAT I DID WITH ERIC, ISN'T IT?

Any time she replies, just start bringing up Eric. Exercise your crazy bone. Every interaction should be more suspicious, crazy, and surreal.

She'll NEVER mistype her email address again.

Really.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

adbjester
Subject:Careful with that....
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 05:25 am (UTC)
I once owned "delta.com" as a domain name, legitimately for my company at the time, deltaComm Development, Inc, a software development company. This was 1995 before big business found it "cool" to be on the Internet.

As the Internet became cool, I started getting a HUGE volume of hits to my website looking for a certain airline. I got Emails complaining of lost bags, and other complaints.

After trying to ignore these Emails, I once got frustrated at an airline passenger for being too stupid to know the difference between delta.com and deltaair.com, and sent them back an Email telling them their luggage was in Bangladesh, and they were fucked (or some other such nonsense).

The airline SUED me for impersonating them.

Eventually, after much legal hand-wringing, we settled (they got the domain name and paid my lawyers, and I got some cash after the fact). But it was a HUGE hassle and distraction. Depositions. Lawyers. Bullshit.

Don't fruck around impersonating someone else on the Internet. You never know when you'll find yourself up against some litigious prick.

(No, I've never flown Delta since, and never will.)

Jester
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


gunga_galunga
Subject:Re: Careful with that....
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 03:44 pm (UTC)
So *you're* the sonofabitch who sent my luggage to Bangladesh! Damn YOU!!!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 02:11 am (UTC)
I would be very tempted to do some of the things you list, but in the end I (think I) would just filter her emails to spam and let other parts of her life make her miserable.
(Reply) (Thread)


dmorr
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 03:32 am (UTC)
So what happens if you do one of these things and she eventually finds or figures out what happens? The minimum is that you get a set of angry emails, which I guess you can ignore though you seem to have trouble ignoring the current ones. I could also imagine a variety of much worse outcomes.

I don't see any point in escalating. You're not going to change her by "teaching her a lesson" and fucking with her. You could make someone's life worse without really making yours better, and in fact yours might get worse too.

Filter the emails to spam, or email the site and explain the problem. Don't go e-postal on her.
(Reply) (Thread)


whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 04:50 am (UTC)
Ethically, zero of your options are valid. You have the technology (filters) available to you to where you can ensure that you're no longer bothered by her stuff. And screwing with someone else's actual account information when it involves their finances is never ethical. I grant that it could easily be satisfying, at least at the start. (And I've done similar in the past, and have felt like crap over it ever since.) But it isn't ethical.

I have gotten a lot of people trying to use my gmail account as it's my firstnamelastinitial, which is a common combination.

I've had success in calling people. I've had success in contacting the people who are emailing me and letting them know that the idiot they are attempting to email is not me and I really would rather not receive their bank account information in the future. Almost always these work.

I may have chosen to redirect one person's stuff, though, because it wasn't taking. That was a while ago, so I might be misremembering.
(Reply) (Thread)


whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 05:01 am (UTC)
I think I could make a pretty strong case that unsubscribing her from their marketing email is legit, since that email is coming to my inbox. Send me mail with a working opt out link, and I think opting out is valid.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 05:09 am (UTC)
Hmm. As long as it doesn't require any login information, then, yes, I think you're correct.

Using login information, though, even if emailed to you by mistake or stupidity, that'd be wrong.

Oh. You do know that gmail has a completely screwed up user naming space spec, right?

All of these should go to the same email account, in a manner that is inconsistent with most other email systems:

username; user.name; usernam.e; u-s-e-r-n-a-m-e

If the person is using, say, user.name, instead of username, they may think that they're using an email address different from username, but they'd be sadly mistaken.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 05:20 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm fully aware. However, gmail won't let you sign up with patti.b@ if pattib@ is already taken.

And yet, if someone signs up as pBUTTHEAD@, it's pretty easy for that moron to know that their email address is not in fact pattib@.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


whitebird
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 05:24 am (UTC)
As to your first statement, some of what I have read has implied that that was not or is not always the case.

As to the second, yes, the butthead is self-referential in that case.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


rhiannonstone
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 07:00 am (UTC)
As you know, I've been in a similar situation for years. Someone else with my first and last name thinks she has my gmail address and uses it to sign up for promotional mailing lists, contests, and accounts with Facebook, Classmates.com, and a couple apartment rental services. I've also received a few personal emails intended for her. I tried replying to the personal emails politely explaining that they had the wrong address and might want to let their friend know I've been getting her mails, but that didn't seem to work. Then I started unsubscribing my email address from the promo lists, which felt okay because it's my email address, dammit, and it's not like she was seeing the messages anyway. But more and more mail kept coming in, so I logged into the accounts I could access and left messages for her, and after that had no effect, I started canceling the accounts I could. I recently got an email with her mailing address and considered sending her a letter, but things seem to have died down a lot, so maybe she's finally figured it out after 4 years.
(Reply) (Thread)


tigerknight
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 02:02 pm (UTC)
Change the email back to yours (if it didn't do that already when she didn't handle the confirmation check for contact info), and then change the password.

You will have effectively locked her out and made the account yours, you can discontinue all the spam crap they send you. PLUS as a bonus, if she tries to sign up again the system should refuse to have a duplicate email address, so you'd be protected from repeated stupidity.
(Reply) (Thread)


evwhore
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-04 11:33 pm (UTC)
I think unsubscribing from promotional mail is perfectly valid; the real problem with technology solutions would be (a) UPS seems to have a different idea, or at least the delivery notices seem to be coming from a different db, since you still go them even after correcting her addresses (b) you probably want UPS notices that are legitimately for you.

I'd go with call her one more time, explaining if she doesn't deal with it you will do the change the password and deactivate the account route.
(Reply) (Thread)


yayhappens
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-05-05 03:02 am (UTC)
I would unsubscribe and then cancel the account so that she is forced to have to provide the proper and relevant information to the people she is doing business with and it will leave you out of it forever.

There is only so much dealing with it that can be done, and especially with purchase transactions, my hope would have been she'd be a little more conscientious and would have worked to fix it.
(Reply) (Thread)

[icon] Where is the ethical boundary here? - Patti
View:Recent Entries.
View:Archive.
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