Previous “In My Inbox” posts

Maybe These Are The Last Checks I Ever Buy

Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

Three months ago, I wrote about the rather early reminder I received encouraging me to order new checks. At the time, I noted that in the 9+ months since I’d ordered my checks, I had used a total of 10 of them. Recently, I received another email from everyone’s favorite Vericast business:

Well, Harland, it turns out it’s also been a while since I wrote a check! In fact, since I mocked you in my previous post, I’ve written exactly zero checks. That means I’m averaging fewer than one check per month. I now need to revise the estimate from June. It now looks like I’ll be due to order checks in 2038. Surely we won’t still be writing checks then, right?

Let’s Not

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Over a decade ago, I spent a few extra bucks on some slightly more expensive trash cans from Simplehuman. Rather than using the absolutely cheapest refuse receptacle I could find, I thought I’d get something a little nicer. It’s been a fine decision.

In late May, I ordered some new trash bags from Simplehuman.1 They arrived quickly, and I put a couple in my trash cans, then moved on with my life.

Until three weeks later, when Simplehuman got in touch:

An email from Simplehuman that says “We'd love to hear from you” and requests a review

I would love to not hear from you, Simplehuman! I cannot fathom taking even 20 seconds of my life to leave a review for trash bags.2 I also can’t imagine needing a five star scale to rate trash bags. This is surely a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down situation, at most.

As for the invitation to get social, I’m going to have to decline that as well. Thanks anyhow, Simplehuman.


Footnotes:

  1. Along the lines of the razors and blades model, Simplehuman offers custom-sized liners for their cans. They cost a few cents more than standard trash bags, but look a lot nicer. ↩︎

  2. Don’t think I’ve failed to recognize the inherent ridiculousness in taking much longer than 20 seconds to write about all of this. I spend that time for you, dear reader. ↩︎

This Reminder Is a Wee Bit Early

Monday, June 6th, 2022

As readers may know, I have fun with checks. However, though I have utterly ridiculous checks which amuse me greatly, I do not have much occasion to use said checks. As such, I was surprised to receive an email with the subject line “This is a friendly reminder to reorder checks.”.

I ordered a new batch of checks last August, and as the above email shows, I received 160 checks.1 Let me tell you, Harland Clarke is wildly overestimating how frequently I write checks. I’m still on my first of four books. In fact, over the past 9+ months, I have written exactly 10 checks. At this rate, I’ll need to reorder some time in 2034.


Footnotes:

  1. I find it very disappointing that the image in this email fails to show the hug statement featured on my checks. ↩︎

Chance to Success

Friday, May 20th, 2022

In the 13+ years One Foot Tsunami has been around, I’ve written about a plethora of different topics. I’ve also been fortune to be receive links from some larger websites, resulting in traffic from all over the world. As a result of these two facts, I get a lot of spammy emails from folks hoping I’ll publish their spammy content or link to their spammy sites (no, I won’t). They’ll usually provide the URL of a not-very-relevant post from years back, where I could “help my readers” by including a new link to their barely related nonsense.

For instance, last month, I received this:

Faheem here from █████ E Scooters, a site designed to demystify the future of transportation and make it easy for everyone to understand.

I’m emailing you because I saw an article of yours here https://onefoottsunami.com/2018/08/30/an-explanation-of-electric-scooters/ and wanted to see if you’d be interested in a small collaboration.

I recently put together a piece on how much are electric scooters packed full of info and thought it would make an excellent addition to your piece and wanted to see if you’d be interested in linking to it.

I’ll let you be the judge though, check it out! URL: ██████████

What do you think?

Mostly, Faheem, I think you should stop emailing me. And I especially think you, and everyone else, should stop emailing me three times, once with your initial spammy request, a second time to “check in”, and finally a third time to give me one last chance to, I dunno, curse your name? But at least I understand the nature of the scam here.

What’s rarer is something like the confusion that resulted from an email I recently received with the subject line “Quick question about elk hunting”. I have never hunted elk, nor anything else for that matter, so this was odd to say the least. It got weirder!

Hi Paul,

I’m putting together an expert roundup post on “elk hunting tips”. And I naturally wanted to invite you to contribute.

Ah, yes, naturally!

The question is: “For first time elk hunter, what should we prepare to increase chance to success?”

Hmm, you seem to have slipped into some really mangled English-as-a-second-language there. Are you OK?

I know you’re busy so a lengthy response isn’t necessary (50-100 words is totally fine).

Thanks!
Robert █████
Co-founder of █████

As you can surely guess, these emails have all been censored by me to avoid providing any help whatsoever to spammers. Even polite ones.

PS: We’ve already received responses from Eric Whiting (Iron Will Outfitters) and Carl Sauerwein (Boulder Basin Outfitters). I’d love for you to be involved.

Well gosh, to have my response printed alongside such illustrious company would truly be an honor. Eric Whiting and Carl Sauerwein? Wow!

I really didn’t know what to make of this email, so I set it aside. A few days later, however, Robert was back.

Hi Paul,

I know you’re busy, but did you get the chance to look into my first email? 🙂

Thanks and best regards,
Robert

It’s clear that despite the fact that I have no idea who he is, Robert knows me well. You see, unlike most people, I am indeed busy. So busy, in fact, that I never did respond to either of these emails.

Perhaps I should have. I’d certainly like to understand just what’s going on here. I imagine it’s some sort of link farming still, but how we got to elk hunting, I simply can’t fathom.

Spahks Afta Dahk

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Recently, I received an invitation to an event to be held at Boston’s Museum of Science. It was billed as an “electrifying experience”, due to the presence of the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator.

Email invitation to the “Sparks After Dark” event, with the following text: Calling all party animals! Sparks After Dark - the official after-party of the Museum of Science's  Stars of STEM  annual fundraising event is back! Hosted by the Innovators, the Museum’s young professional society, Sparks After Dark is Boston’s only late night party in a room producing over a million volts of lightning—the Museum's Theater of Electricity. Shocking, we know.

Sparks After Dark will feature cocktails, late night bites, science-themed entertainment, live animals, music, and dancing featuring the Museum's favorite drag queen and DJ, Coleslaw.

With a name like “Sparks After Dark”, it was only natural that I would repeatedly read the invitation out loud in an over-the-top and utterly ridiculous townie accent. As one does. While practicing that tomfoolery, I then realized that the second paragraph’s bizarrely long list reads like a Stefon sketch.

And so, I present you with this nonsense:

You can listen for this ad on Boston-area radio stations for the next week. You won’t actually hear it, but nothing can stop you from listening for it.

Heckuva Job, Dining Algorithm

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

Long ago, I signed up for JetBlue’s “TrueBlue Dining” program, which doles out a few frequent flier miles when I pay via credit card at certain restaurants. These rewards are sporadic and random, but it’s all free, so why not?

Recently, I got some food from a small pizza joint called Hot Box, which can be found on the web at EatHotBox.com. Risky click!

Anyhow, a few days after enjoying those slices, I received the following in my inbox:

Greetings, Human. We are aware that you ate <PIZZA>. Here are some <PIZZA> restaurants in your state of <MASSACHUSETTS>.

This useless email contained a list of 16 different pizza places, only 1 of which I’d ever even heard of before, and most of which were quite some distance from me. I live in downtown Boston, and I have dozens of pizza shops within a 15 minute radius. I don’t know who this braindead recommendation would help, but it isn’t me.

Bitcoin Give and Take

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

Recently, I encountered a fun little swindle involving cryptocurrency. It started with this piece of spam I spotted in my email quarantine:

Hi Rob Hoffman,
As requested, we have now deposited 19 BTC which amount to ($789,431.38 USD) into your bitcoin portfolio at http://www.bitcount.net/signin
Customer Id: 43789495
Customer Password: TGG3423TG

Now, while I am not Rob Hoffman, I would be glad to be in possession of almost a million dollars’ worth of bitcoins. Sadly, rather than a misdirected email, this was undoubtedly a scam. I decided to poke around, in an effort to determine the nature of the scheme. To being, I visited bitcount.net (using a virtual environment):


Bitcount.net, as it appeared in early February, 2022

Overall, the site looked legitimate enough.1 Further, when I tried to sign in with completely fake credentials, I was denied access. Using the information received via email, however, I was able to log in. At that point, I was prompted to change my password. My initial thought was that they may be attempting to catch folks who are reusing passwords, but this seems like a lot of work for that. In this case, I entered a never-before-used dummy password

Once in the account, I could indeed see a supposed balance of 19 BTC. Since the time of the email, BTC was up enough to put the value at well over $800,000. Not bad! If only it actually existed.

My next move was to see what I could do with this supposed windfall. The system offered to let me withdraw, so I attempted to take out a single bitcoin. Hey, I’m not greedy. To do this, I set up a brand-new bitcoin wallet, and gave the system that dummy information. It immediately rejected my request, informing me my first withdrawal was limited to 0.0001 BTC, for “security reasons”. Sure, Jan.

I modified my request down to 0.0001 BTC, and that did show success, though the site informed me that it could take up up to 30 minutes to appear. I was more than a little skeptical, but eventually, there it was!


A whole 1/10,000 of a bitcoin

This minute fraction of a bitcoin was now fully in my possession, and as far as I could see, I had traded a dummy password and dummy bitcoin wallet address for about $5. I’d take that deal any day, but what I really wanted was to understand the nature of the ruse here. Thus, I returned to the site, and again attempted to withdraw an entire bitcoin. Hey, I’m still not greedy.

With this request, the curtain fell, and the scam was revealed. The system wouldn’t allow me to take out 1 BTC, as you can see:

A fairly nonsensical alert, indicating I needed to withdraw a minimum of 19.007 BTC, when the account only held 18.9999 BTC
This is right on the cusp of making sense, but, nope, utter nonsense.

Instead, I was told that I was being limited by the portfolio’s “savePro™” functionality.2 That “feature” meant the minimum withdrawal amount was 19.007 BTC.

At this point, you can hopefully see where this is going. The system was indicating that if I deposited 0.0071 BTC (worth about $315), it would then allow the full 19.007 BTC to be withdrawn back out. Of course, in actuality it would definitely disappear with that 0.0071 BTC entirely. Cryptocurrency is the Wild West, and there are no sheriffs.

Ultimately, in an effort to rope me in, this scam site gave me about five bucks. Some basic math indicates that if they get more than 1 out of 63 people to fall for this bizarre “minimum withdrawal limit”, they’ll come out ahead. Further, once someone does make a deposit, they’ll have identified themselves as a real mark to be soaked. It’s possible the site would then work to bilk the sucker out of even more, say with some of that deposit being lost to “fees”, necessitating another deposit.

At this point, however, I’m satisfied that I’ve figured out their trickery. It’s a good thing, too, because my continued poking around and experimenting eventually led the site to log me out and stop responding to my credentials. Alas, it seems I’ll never manage to retrieve that other 18.9999 BTC which doesn’t actually exist.


Footnotes:

  1. This “Sign Up” page might make one at least a little suspicious.

    As well, if you actually read the text throughout the site, it lacks the ring of authenticity. ↩︎

  2. I’m ever so tickled that “savePro” is a trademark (™), but not a registered (®) one. You wouldn’t want this whole thing to crumble when someone checks the USPTO database for savePro, only to find it missing. ↩︎

Who Would Do This, AT&T?

Friday, December 31st, 2021

Recently, I switched my cellular service away from AT&T (née Cingular née Cellular One). I was a bit nervous about this process, as I’d heard horror stories from folks who had rough times transferring their cell numbers years back. Fortunately, the process was fast and easy. In just a few minutes, I was all set with my new carrier. If you’re thinking of switching, it’s quite painless and likely worth your while.

Apparently, AT&T wasn’t quite so ready to move on from me, however. Today, I received an email with the subject line “AT&T would like your opinion!”. I’m sure they would. It would surely be valuable for AT&T to know why a customer of nearly two decades has decided to move on. Given that, this email is rather confounding.

It begins with this:

An email opening that says “Dear Former AT&T Customer”

When I read a greeting like “Dear Former AT&T Customer”, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I can tell I’m truly appreciated by the way they didn’t even address me by name. It makes me excited to see just what this email is all about.

Text stating “AT&T needs input from former customers like you regarding the cancellation of your AT&T Wireless service.”

AT&T doesn’t just want my input, it needs it, perhaps for its very survival as a business. Why on earth I should care about what the massive corporation I no longer use for cellular service “needs” is beyond me. Still, I appreciate the fact that they’ve told me how important this is to them, because it’s always nice to have leverage.

Further text stating “As a former customer, your opinion is very important to us. We’d like to ask you to participate in a survey of approximately 20 minutes.”

20 minutes! That’s one hell of a request. AT&T, do you think we’re friends? We are not friends. 2 minutes would be asking a lot, and 20 is beyond excessive.

I should’ve stopped reading right there, but I thought maybe there’d be a reason to continue. Given how important the information they’re asking for is to them, and the fact that it’s going to take quite awhile to provide it, surely they’ll make it worth my while. For, say, a $100 Visa gift card, I could take 20 minutes to tell AT&T how they lost me as a customer.

Further text reading “This survey is being conducted by Burke, Inc., an independent research firm, on behalf of AT&T. Your participation is completely voluntary and no one will try to sell you anything as a result. We appreciate your participation and encourage an early response, as the survey is only open for a limited time. Thank you in advance for your feedback and participation!”

Oh. Wow. They took the time to rather ludicrously assure me that this is voluntary. They made sure to note that I won’t get upsold. They even urged me to act fast on this not-exciting-in-the-least offer, so I can get my answers in before the survey closes. Finally, they thanked me in advance, with a few hollow words. What they didn’t do was offer any compensation, nor even a reason for why I would spend 20 minutes completing this survey for them.

As you can no doubt guess, I didn’t. Instead, I took that time to write this post mocking AT&T. It helpfully provides feedback about their survey request, and they’re welcome to read it for free. What can I say? I’m a giver.

As far as the information on why I switched providers though? For that, they’ll have to pony up. AT&T, I encourage a prompt response, as the cost of my time is only going up.

A Site for Ursine STDs

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Many moons ago, I received a rather bizarre offer to purchase the domain baronvd.com. As I noted then, it sounds like a site for fancy sexually-transmitted diseases. Early this morning, I received a new and perhaps even more ridiculous come-on:

An email offering bearvd.com for sale

Long-time readers will recall that I own the Barvd.com domain, which is no doubt why I’m receiving this email. Still, despite the closeness in letters, there’s no actual relation between the domains. Barvd.com was initially purchased to showcase the grossest in social media tweets, and now covers all matter of vomit-inducing unpleasantness. Though this bearvd.com domain adds just one letter to Barvd, it is about as related as pens.com1 and penis.com2 would be.

However, if you’re a veternarian specializing in treating venereal diseases in bears, this could be just the site for you. Let me know, and I’ll put you in touch with Lloyd Childs.


Footnotes:

  1. At the time of publication, this is a site for crappy branded items, including pens, as well as notepads, glasses, and much more. ↩︎

  2. Shockingly, this domain currently leads to no site at all, though it is available for purchase if you have a spare $1 million (USD). Alternately, you can lease it for just $21,667 per month. ↩︎

Inbox Abuse at the Hands of Major League Baseball

Friday, December 11th, 2020

At 12:30 PM on November 23, I received an email from MLB.com’s shop, advertising site-wide 30% off savings. Because officially licensed gear for professional sports teams is always ludicrously overpriced, this has the effect of bringing the cost of a $260 “authentic” jersey to a still grossly overpriced $182. To say I was uninterested is putting it mildly.

However, I did notice that this email advertised the deal as “Early Cyber Monday Savings”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings”

As you may know, “Cyber Monday” is a marketing term for the Monday after American Thanksgiving, when many online stores offer special deals. This year, Thanksgiving fell on the November 26, making Cyber Monday the 30th. November 23 was thus not “early Cyber Monday”, it was nothing at all. This email represented just the latest example of calendar abuse by some crack marketing team.

It was also the beginning of some monstrous mailing list mismanagement. Just six hours later, I received an email letting me know that these “Early Cyber Monday savings” were “ending soon”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Ends Soon”

Another three hours later, at 9:30 PM, a third email arrived letting me know this deal was “almost outta here”, and in its “final hours”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Final Hours”

The sale was ending at midnight, so I assumed that would be the last I’d hear about it. Three emails in one day is too much, but I could see the repeated contacts being effective with some potential customers.

The next day, however, I received the shocking news that “Early Cyber Monday” had been “extended” into Tuesday. Did MLB explain that this was due to overwhelming demand, which had perhaps crashed their servers and thus prevented hopeful buyers from placing orders? They did not. Did they at least use a bit of clever baseball lingo, perhaps saying that the sale had “gone into extra innings?” There again, the answer is no. OK, but surely they changed the design of the email for some variety?

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Extended”

Well, the badge on the bottom of the banner was a different shade of blue, yes.

That evening, I received yet another email, letting me know this was my last chance to take advantage of this 30% off.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Last Chance”

I was rather incredulous at the idea of sending five emails in two days for a mediocre sale. Still, I found the overzealousness amusing, and I assumed that would be the end of it. I was completely unprepared for what would follow over the next two-plus weeks.

To avoid trying your patience, while still demonstrating the abuse my inbox suffered in late November and early December, here is a simple list of the various sales promotions MLB.com emailed about. Lest you think I made these up, I’ve included images from the most ridiculous emails:

  • Thanksgiving Eve Savings

    A banner reading “Today Only! Thanksgiving Eve Savings”
    Except perhaps when discussing travel, “Thanksgiving Eve” is really not a thing.

  • Thanksgiving Day Sale

  • Black Friday Sale

  • Black Friday Extended

  • Cyber Monday Sneak Peek

    A banner reading “Cyber Monday Sneak Peek”
    The extensions led in to sneak peeks, then back to sales.

  • Cyber Monday Sale

  • Cyber Monday Extended

  • A non-specific “Countdown” event

  • Friends & Family Savings Event

    A banner reading “Friends & Family Savings Event”
    Lamentably, I am not in the Major League Baseball family. After all this, I’m not feeling very friendly either.

  • The Holiday Gifting Sale

  • 3 Days of Saving

  • One Day Sale

    A banner reading “Friends & Family Savings Event”
    OK, this one cracked me up.

  • Holiday Savings Event

Throughout the course of this, the discounts seemed to fluctuate. Many of these sales advertised “up to 65% off”, which really tells you just how much this merchandise is ordinarily marked up. Others contained more standard 20-30% off discounts. The numbers were impossible to keep straight, as they changed constantly.

Similarly, my own reactions bounced around quite a bit. My initial mirth quickly grew to disgust at the marketing that occurred just before, and on, Thanksgiving. I was then horrified at the onslaught of emails surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I eventually grew numb, and just let the spam wash over me. Finally, I settled on bemusement, enjoying watching just how far this would go and wondering when it would ever end.

But today, enough was truly enough. This morning, MLB.com hit my inbox for the 50th time in under three weeks. That is just utterly insane behavior. I’m sure that MLB wants to juice their merchandise sales after a down year in 2020, but the idea that this is the way to do it beggars belief. It is inexplicable that anyone with any sense at all could think the above was appropriate.

So I’m out. I’ve unsubscribed, and I hope to never hear from these dingdongs again. Sure, I’ll miss their “Christmas Day Sale” (Warning, gifts will not arrive by Christmas), the “Tuesday After Christmas” event, and the “New Year’s Eve Eve” savings the day after that, but I think I’ll be alright.