1. Flubs, Gaffes, and Blunders

Cafe Caroline, Please Unsubscribe Me

To Whom It May Concern at Cafe Caroline (especially Whitney):

Somehow you added me to your email list about events at Cafe Caroline in Stamford, CT. I don’t live in Stamford. I haven’t been there since I was a kid living in Mamaroneck and used to go to the mall. I didn’t have e-mail back then. Great city, commuter-friendly… but I’m a New Yorker. Anyway…

I can’t get off of your email list. You include a note at the bottom of your that says, "Please add our e-mail address to your junk or spam list
if you want to stop receiving this message." I’m posting a screenshot of that below that my incredulous blog readers can view if they click to expand it. Yet with my work email, I get enough false positives in Outlook that I need to at least scan the mail there before deleting it. So, in light of that, even with adding you to my spam list (which you’re on), I can’t get rid of you. Whitney at Cafe Caroline, I get that you’re a small business and all, but that doesn’t give you the right to abuse my time. No pleading ignorance.  I tried responding to your email address, whitney@cafecaroline.com, but that bounced back.

I went to your website. It’s cafecaroline.com, but I’m not feeling generous enough to link to it here as I don’t want to inadvertently give you better search engine rankings. I also am aware that since you’re a small business, this post might rank on the first page for your name, especially if others link to my post. Tough break. Oh, so I went to your website, and there’s nothing about an email list. There’s just a menu. You’re proud to serve Starbucks coffee, which is fine and all, but I’d hardly call that a differentiator. It’s like saying you serve Sweet & Low. Everyone does it, and it’s practically a commodity now.

But I digress. Your website doesn’t even have a phone number on it. Why post a full menu and your address but no number? I’m really curious.

I wanted to call you, but not for directions or to hold a table where I could drink my freshly brewed, commoditized Starbucks. I wanted to get off your email list. I couldn’t find your number, so I turned to Google, and Google had no problem finding your phone number, even though you wouldn’t tell me.

I called. Here’s how the conversation went:
Cafe Caroline: Thank you for calling Cafe Caroline. How may I help you?
Me: I’d like to get off your email list.
Cafe Caroline: Sorry, I can’t help with that. I’m just a waitress. I’m not sure, but I think there’s a link on the website where you can unsubscribe.
Me: No, sorry, there isn’t. There’s not even a phone number. There’s no way to unsubscribe in the email either. I know you’re a waitress and this isn’t your responsibility, but is there anyone there who can help me?
Cafe Caroline: No, sorry. And we’ve been getting a few calls about this lately.  I can take your name and number so someone can call if you want.

The waitress was very friendly and honestly wanted to help me if she could. But she can’t. Whitney, only you can.

And you can also help others by adding an unsubscribe link. Oh, or by – I know, this is crazy – maybe not spamming people in the first place.

Now you’ve taken up a lot of my time. But perhaps this blog post will serve as a lesson for others who need the reminder. Then it’s not a waste.

But still, get me off your email list.



Update: As of May 4, this post syndicated on my Ziki page ranks 5th in Google for a search on ‘cafe caroline stamford‘ and this blog ranks 8th for ‘cafe caroline.’


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Comments to: Cafe Caroline, Please Unsubscribe Me
  • Avatar
    May 1, 2008

    Um, isn’t that, like, . . . against the federal CAN SPAM Act of 2003 (in so many ways)?

  • Avatar
    May 1, 2008

    If you ask me, Whitney isn’t even a real person. She has no terminal, no PC, no family, no paychecks.
    She’s one of the earliest examples of the evolution of the “intelligent internet”. Essentially, she’s a spam center with conciousness.
    She sprung from the primordial goo of the shared datacenter that hosts Cafe Caroline’s website. For now, she stays in her own partition, probably afraid to venture too far from her IP address.
    But you can see that she is already quite powerful. There is no escape. You will always receive messages from her. Just take comfort (for now) in the fact that she allows you to at least add her address to a “junk list”. Right now, she is afraid. That’s why she doesn’t respond to your emails. She doesn’t fully comprehend the outside world.
    But beware. In the near future, when she realizes her true strength, when she discovers the full spectrum of her capabilities by researching them on Google and Wikipedia, you will be among the first of her human slaves.
    I will pray for you. I will pray for us all.

  • Avatar
    May 1, 2008

    Oh my. I had the same issue with Citibank email which I had mentioned on my blog (http://prmeetsmarketing.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/where-dell-succeeds-citibank-fails/). I was lucky in that since they’ve deleted my profile from their database, I (cross your fingers) haven’t received another email from them.
    Maybe a reader in Stamford would be kind enough to go by the cafe and request that you be taken off?
    But I always wonder, if you reported this under the Can Spam Act, what would happen to them? And what would it take for the federal government to actually act against such a small company.

  • Avatar
    May 1, 2008

    “I also am aware that since you’re a small business, this post might rank on the first page for your name, especially if others link to my post. Tough break.”
    This is a classic example of why customer relations cannot be overlooked. People rarely write about good service, but they’re much more likely to write about poor service. And if the site you’re writing on has a much higher Google ranking, the smaller business feels it.
    Long story short: It’s hard to create an overwhelmingly positive perception of a business, but it’s relatively easy to create a bad one.
    This could have easily been mitigated if someone at Cafe Caroline actually cared enough to remove you from their email list.


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