New Times Enlists Charity Volunteers…Then Spams Them

Oct. 11, 2014

I was originally going to use this as my headline…

New Times Event Lures Volunteers for Spamming

…in homage to what New Times sometimes descends to on their darker days. But I’ve actually been an advocate of NT over the decades, even as I watched the paper thin-out from hardhitting, take-no-prisoners reportage to its current, um, less robust state. So I went with the less inflammatory header.

Nevertheless, the paper’s marketing efforts hit a new low last week when someone in the organization decided it would be OK to exploit charitable-minded volunteers who showed up for the Best of Phoenix charity event ─ supporting Sun Sounds of Arizona ─ by bombarding them with unsolicted mass marketing promotional email program, i.e. “spam.”

“Bombard”? All right, that’s a bit strong. But one-a-day spam emails is still more than I get from the Nigerians, UK Lottery, “enlargement” folks, “Dr. Oz miracle weight loss” and Mystery Shopper scammers (though the Oz coat-tailers are making a strong move)

New Times BOP banner

  • Win Crypt Haunted Attraction Passes
  • Get Your Tix to see LeeAnn Womack
  • Best Arts Festival Phoenix
  • 21 Best Things To Do: October 9 – 15
  • Who Doesn’t Love Tacos?
  • Ghouls Night Out at Hotel Valley Ho

New Times newsletter banner

The 15th annual “Best Of Phoenix A’fare” was held this year October 4 at the Burton Barr Central Library with proceeds to benefit Sun Sounds, the excellent organization that provides audio broadcasts for those who cannot use printed material due to a disability ─ basically they read to folks who have difficulty reading for themselves.

What a great combination, I thought, right up my alley: a fundraiser, held at a library, to promote reading!

I had the late late shift, which I knew would involve staying into the wee hours, doing anything from gathering up extension cords to hauling unconsumed beverages down to the loading dock storage room. As it happens, we were able to knock off about 1:30am, well after the revelers had left.

I was counting on finding my car pretty easily at that hour. I was not counting on a daily serving of unsolicited promotional announcements

After complaining to Sun Sounds, the folks I signed up to help, I got this rather curt response from their development director, David Noble:

“We asked and New Times took steps to shut down the email distribution for all our volunteers – even though yours was the only concern voiced.  They are doing as much as you should expect…That ends our discussion on this subject.”

I would have been pretty happy with “We’re sorry to hear that NT put you on their spam list; it was certainly not our intention to exploit volunteers…” or empathetic words to that effect.

At one point it was pointed out to me that the NT spams have this disclaimer in fine print at the bottom:

You are receiving this email because you have signed up on our website, at an event, participated in a promotion, or purchased a ticket to an event.

Sorry spammers of the world, that doesn’t let you off the hook.

I imagine few of the 2,000 or so souls who purchased a ticket actually agreed to be on the distribution list, much less the volunteers.

We all know that most of these so-called opt-ins are purely imaginary. And it’s what we expect from disreputable folks with headlines like:

You May Qualify For FREE Cash

FUNDS ALLERT: Up to $35,000 dollars OVERNIGHT!

Dr. Oz Health Tip: New fat-buster burns belly-fat without-dieting

I expected better from New Times and Sun Sounds.

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