"Just to re-assure you, we hate spam too. This email was sent to you because you have given giffgaff permission to contact you via this address."
Okay, keep this short.* Of course I haven't given them permission. Usually, I sigh and click the tiny "unsubscribe" link. Usually, that's all that's needed. (Of course, I always click on the "spam" button, just in case.) But sometimes -- and this time -- when it says "unsubscribe", you click though to a page that you can't "unsubscribe" at all (and, funny, almost always they claim that you have given them permission. Like maybe I've forgotten).
With a grim smile, I type "we hate spam" and "giffgaff" into Google. One try (ten Google links) and I know: Giffgaff doesn't do a simple "unsubscribe". Maybe, maybe Giffgaff will "unsubscribe" if I join (with a password, etc). Actually, I'm not sure even that will "unsubscribe" me. Phil Bradley's weblog:
No, I have NOT given you permission to contact me via this address - you just decided to, and didn't give me an option to tell you not to. That's SPAM.
However, I decide to close the account, or at least, stop them sending me stuff. So I go to the website, where they want me to log in, with my user name and password. Y'know - the ones that I don't have *because I hadn't joined their service*. So not much I can do there. However, they have a help forum. So I go along to that; I knew what would happen, and it did. 'Before you can post, you have to join with your user name and password.'
So let's go along to their Facebook site. I complain. The next thing that I know is they have sent me a link to change my password. Now of course, this is where it gets interesting. They have now given me the opportunity to take over one of their members accounts. I haven't hacked it or anything... they have GIVEN me the means to do this. Now, I have no idea what's in that account, and I'm not going to find out. But I know the phone number, since they provided me with that in the initial email. I could do lots of interesting things in the account though, I am sure.
So - not only do Giffgaff NOT validate email accounts, they spam, they have no proper method of contacting them, and they're giving me permission to get into a members account. These people are an absolute shower - and if you have anything to do with them, I'd run away quickly.
Very nice! Oh, here's another little happy Giffgaff, well, thing, per Lewis Curdie:
[T]he worst offender in my opinion was “Cheeky SIM in the post”. I’ll let giffgaff explain: “As giffgaff is all about keeping costs down, we rely on our members recommending giffgaff to their friends and family – that way we don't have to spend lots of money getting new members on board through glossy advertising campaigns.
“We were a little bit cheeky and popped an extra SIM in the post for you to pass on, just in case you had any friends or family who've just come off a mobile contract or paying too much on ‘Pay as you go'.
“Don't worry – this is just a one off, promise.”
I think they think that we'll admire them.
By the way: every time someone complains about this treatment, either in the community of Giffgaff or off, inevitably several people defend Giffgaff, and inevitably they're off the point** (i.e. "check your preferences", as though you are a member), and so far they haven't pointed complainers to a simple link, just gestured vaguely. If you're going to gesture vaguely, or post vague defense ("I like it their great!"), don't bother; it will be deleted.
*really, it was longer!
**that's assuming they are real, of course.
Take a minute to read about and honor Stanislav Petrov, whose calm, sane decision under severe pressure saved us from total nuclear war 25 years ago today -- and cost him his career.
via Charlie Stross
Champion commenter Ethan is writing an intriguing weblog called Like To Listen To, where he's writing a thoughtful paragraph or two about everything he's listening to. For someone like me -- long on enthusiasm, short on attention span -- it's a great approach, and I'm thinking of adopting it in some form.*
He also has excellent, wide-ranging taste. Just in the last couple days, he's written about:
Brian Eno, Another Green World (1975)
Kylie Minogue, Fever (2001)
Jr. and His Soulettes, Psychodelic Sounds (1971)
Donna Summer, Once Upon a Time (1977)
Boards of Canada, Twoism (1995)
Roxy Music, Roxy Music (1972)
Angelo Badalamenti, Soundtrack from Twin Peaks (1990)
Animal Collective, Sung Tongs (2004)
Fairport Convention, Unhalfbricking (1969)
kd lang, Hymns of the 49th Parallel (2004)
Portishead, Dummy (1994)
Lee Hazlewood, A House Safe for Tigers (1975)
Solid Eye, Electromagnetic Field and Stream of Consciousness (1994)
The Knife, The Knife (2001)
Check it out.
What a great idea: a slightly labor-intensive but fascinating method for generating faux indie rock album covers. The examples shown on Brainiac's page are excellent, but check out the entire archive, too.
When I get home, I'm going to make some of my own.
Ed Ward has written an excellent piece on the closing of Village Music in Mill Valley, California that makes me nostalgic for a place (and era) I've never been.
It wasn't at all unusual to be shopping with Mike Bloomfield, Nick Gravenites, Marty Balin, Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, or Maria Muldaur. I'm still pissed off at Bloomfield, whom I met when we both reached for the same Barbara Lynn album at the same time. "I need this," he said. But I saw it first! "Well, I'm Mike Bloomfield and you're not and I need this." We eventually became friendly, but that was also the only copy of that album I ever had a chance to own. I still haven't heard it. And, just as with the live music, these people passed on the knowledge they got: one day I walked in on a warm spring day and the most beautiful acoustic guitar music was playing. I asked what it was and he said "Slack key. Ry Cooder found a bunch of it in Hawaii and brought some back for me. I don't have any for sale, but I've got some ordered. Want me to save you some when it comes in? It's expensive..." It was, but it was worth it.
There was a bar at the other end of town called the Sweetwater where a lot of the local musicians hung out and sometimes performed, and John started renting it twice a year for private invitation-only parties. [...] Christmas parties always featured Charles Brown, who, before Michael Jackson appeared on the scene, had the best-selling single by a black artist ever, "Merry Christmas, Baby," recorded in 1947, and selling seasonally every year thereafter. Mr. Brown hadn't been such a good businessman, and when he made his first Sweetwater appearance, he was eking out a living in Oakland teaching piano lessons. He, too, was amazed that this crowd knew him, and played one after another of his hits. Finally, he said "A very long time ago, we recorded a song that's been very good to us ever since. It's called 'Merry Christmas, Baby.' Would you like to hear it?" The crowd roared. Mr. Brown faked a double take. "Really? You do?"
There was always something good to drink there, but I swear I wasn't hallucinating when I saw Elvis Costello backed by Commander Cody, James Burton, Jerry Garcia, Sammy Hagar, Austin de Lone, "Teenage" Steve Douglas, and one or two others...