Monday, August 1, 2011

Cranky Customer still cranky, but now at the right people

In my previous post, I related a tale of great woe, a tale of such injustice that all who heard it marveled I was able to withstand the strain

This screed was powerful, heart-rending, and wrong.

Randy Cassingham sent me a reply to one of my unsubscribe messages, letting me know that he had not been the publisher of 'Heroic Stories' since February 1, 2003. Still being in high dudgeon, I attempted to justify my stance, accusing him of guilt by association, since he had at one time been involved in the site and there was still a "sister site" link from 'Heroic Stories' back over to one of his sites.  His response pointed out the fallacy of my position, using a rather blunt analogy I didn't appreciate, but that's a different matter entirely.

I was still convinced in my own mind that there was a link between 'Heroic Stories' and the Cassingham community of sites. Wanting to prove Randy wrong, I began poking through his websites, just looking for the cross-link or other attribution that I KNEW had to exist.

Yeah, I found bupkis.

I did realize, however, that one of the failure emails I had received earlier contained an email address on one of Randy's domains, instead of on the 'Heroic Stories' domain. I realize now that my brain concocted quite the logical path, and I was trying to defend this monstrosity. In short, I remembered an old relationship between Randy and 'Heroic Stories', and in my attempts to unsubscribe one email address from their list, I saw an address pointing to one of Randy's domains. Since 1 + 1 still usually equals 2, I went racing off with a result of 4.

So, yes, I'm still a frustrated and cranky customer, and the unsubscribe process for 'Heroic Stories' is unjustifiably broken. But, my ire is with them, and the team that manages that site, not with Randy Cassingham. In fact, as I mentioned in my reason for unsubscribing from Randy's list:
At least This Is True provides a simple, easy, and convenient method for unsubscribing and managing their email lists.
I should have realized the irony of kvetching about a broken unsubscribe process while lauding the unsubscribe process in use by another site.

So, Randy Cassingham, I apologize. I should have done my investigation first, and waited on a response before firing with both barrels. I did you a disservice.

Cranky Customer is CRANKY!!

UPDATED: I've issued a retraction and apology, as my complaint is not with Randy Cassingham but with the actual owner/managers of 'Heroic Stories.

For years, I have been subscribed to a mailing list known as "Heroic Stories", originally started by Randy Cassignham. I was originally subscribed using a work email address, but I can no longer send messages using that address thanks to an email system upgrade/migration, and I've decided to move my subscription over to a personal email address. So, easy-peasy, right? I mean, listserv management has been around for years and years. I check the footers of the email, and there's an unsubscribe instructions section, but nothing about modifying your subscription. Okay, no worries. Some sites like to cut down on administrative messages included in their posts. So I head over to the website, where I find a "Change Your Details" section in the site menu.

This is promising!!!

Except, not so much.

This page is essentially a subscribe page. Its unsubscribe information simply refers to the instructions included at the end of the email, along with the smarmy admonition to "Follow them to the letter, and it works first time, every time." The site also says that "These instructions work even if you can no longer send mail from the address the issues are sent to." Well, since that's my biggest issue (being able to unsubscribe an address I no longer can send as), I decide to give them a shot.

Let's take a look at the instructions:
   the word "Gazelle" in the Subject line.
This copy sent to:
Okay, all of a sudden I'm not very confident this is going to work. There is absolutely nothing in the email address that looks like a subscriber ID or anything like that. But, it does have a Subject line requirement, so maybe that's a unique word assigned to each subscriber. Or maybe it's just a spam filter requirement.

Yeah, it's a spam filter requirement.

The response from the listserv software said:

Regarding your "unsubscribe" request to Gazelle....
Sorry, but the e-mail address '' does not appear to be a member of 'Heroic Stories'.
If you believe you have received this message in error, then please contact the Heroic Stories Listmoms at .
- The Heroic Stories Listmoms
That's exactly what I was afraid was going to happen. There was no way for the listserv to know what address I wanted to unsubscribe, so it defaulted to the sender's address. I tried it from multiple email addresses, including the work address that is currently receiving the message. Yeah, no joy.

But wait, all is not lost! There is an alternative contact address. Unfortunately, while hope springs eternal, frustration trumps all. I received an SMTP 550 bounce message on that address.

I remembered that Cassingham also runs a website called Cranky Customer, wherein he relates customer service horror stories. How ironic it would be to submit a Cranky Customer screed regarding his own suite of websites and processes. And once again, my hopes are dashed on the cruel rocks of realities.
Note we do not accept submissions!
It seems that the site was set up as a personal complaint site for him and his friends. Well, I have a personal complaint site as well, my much-ignored blog.

So, let me just say that I will now be unsubscribing from any and all of Cassingham's sites and endeavors. He claims to have invented for-profit email list subscription services. Unfortunately, he hasn't invented an exceptionally easy way to modify, manage or cancel your subscriptions to his suite of sites.

This cranky customer is DEFINITELY cranky.