This morning I got my first real spam/scam contact through my online shop. Thankfully up until today most correspondence I've received through my online shops has been lovely and friendly and most importantly genuine. I've had lots of nice messages from people throughout the UK and also from elsewhere in the globe. The problem I've found though is that opening your shop to an international global market means that quite a few of your customers may not use English as their first language and any email they send automatically triggers the junk mail sensor in my head. This makes me feel incredibly guilty as I don't like mistrusting people, its sad that someones knowledge of English can make me react in that way but it really has come to be the number one signal that something is wrong with an email. (As someone whose spelling and grammar can be pretty atrocious at times I could easily fall foul of the same prejudice myself.)
When I first started selling online I got an email from a customer in Brazil which was really poorly written and was quite hard to understand. She started by apologising that her English wasn't great and that she wanted to buy something from me but that she needed a rather odd postal arrangement as it was a surprise gift. After a good bit of correspondence and some Googling of her name and email address I finally decided that she was in fact real and took a risk on the posting the item. Thankfully it all worked out great and she was delighted with the print but I very nearly just decided to give it a miss.
Here's the message I received today, if you get the same message just ignore it. (saves you getting on their spam message radar.)
"hello, i want to make immediate purchase of your item, what is the present condition?
do you accept PayPal as mode of payment? what is the final asking price?
kindly get back with your reply to my private email: email@example.com
hope to read from you soon. Best Regard"
I however wanted to hear the spammers story (I somehow enjoy how ridiculous their messages can be) so dropped them a polite reply and got one of the old classic stories in return. The Spammer, in pigeon English, really like my item much. want to buy for secret present for mum who very important not know item is coming. Sadly they are oceanographer and on sea so cannot complete sale through Folksy. Please tell how can pay and pick up agent will come and pick up item direct. All need is direct Paypal details and will arrange payment.
Delete, block and forward to Folksy's spam police.
The other scam I've had people try isn't an attempt to rip off bank details its more a bit of a cheeky attempt to get a discount. I've had people contact me pretending they run a shop and wanting to purchase a range of items wholesale. It sounded good so I sent them wholesale prices and asked for more info on their shop. They emailed back to say they wanted to just test the water and would only take two items at the wholesale price and ignored my request for more info on their shop. I'm a bit picky about where I sell so again asked for more info and got a quick reply saying its a very small shop in New York, with no name or real details. A Google search later it turned out that they didn't have a shop at all they were really just buying the items for themselves and the whole shop thing was just an attempt to get the items cheaper.
All these little scams can be very annoying but as long as you keep your wits about you, ask for details about them and their company and do a bit of research into user names/ email addresses whenever you are suspicious then you can usually spot any dodgy characters pretty easily. I just hope the scam artists don't realise that a little investment in some English lessons might pay off pretty quickly!!!
Anyways its not all doom and gloom some people are trying to make a positive out of a negative and find creative uses for spam - here are a two of my favourites:
- My friend Eilidh MacAskill created the Spam Song lifting lines from spam emails she received into a hilarious and rather rude song as part of her project ">Eilidh's Daily Ukulele Ceilidh. (snippet of the Spam Song about half way through linked video)
- Big brother to one half of Hole in my Pocket and our IT guru, Richard Airlie created the wonderfully addictive ">Spam Radio which takes junk mail and turns it into a hypnotic robot voiced monologue with electronic soundtrack.