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Spam Me

I almost thought this e-mail was a joke.

Tomorrow you will be receiving an email with an unfamiliar ‘from’ address, requesting you to update your contact information on the alumni directory questionnaire. The email will come from HCN_olqr@harrisconnect.com. You received a similar email last month.

Please be assured that this email is legitimate. The Alumni Relations Office has contracted with Harris Connect, the company which produces our printed alumni directory, to gather updated information on our alumni before the book is printed. Your information will be kept completely confidential.

If you have recently completed the survey, thank you; please disregard this message and the email tomorrow. Thank you in advance for taking the time to return the questionnaire.

Sincerely,

Wendy W. Hopkins ’72
Director of Alumni Relations &
Secretary, Society of Alumni

I always respond to e-mail addresses like “HCN_olqr@harrisconnect.com”. Doesn’t everyone?

Surely there is a better way of handling this? I wonder how much Harris charges for this service. Note that this is not the first time that the alumni office has demonstrated a less than sophisticated understanding of these Internets.

A better approach would be to delegate this mission to the class agents.

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#1 Comment By frank uible On October 5, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for this e-mail. Haven’t you?

#2 Comment By Jonathan Landsman On October 5, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

Yeah, my junk mail filter already deleted their prior attempt, apparently. I am elated to hear I haven’t missed my big chance.

My high school did a similar thing, where a similar company contacted me for my information at first by email, many, many times, and when I ignored that started calling me, also many times. When they finally got me, the guy was very nice, swore he just wanted to ensure that my information was up to date, and after I told him that I was not going to buy anything and made him promise that his company would not retain my information for marketing, I helped him out.

Sure enough, at the end, he asked if I’d like to buy the limited print directory, for $75. No thanks, I said. So I suspect (hope) that the college pays nothing or little for this service, and the company does the legwork to update information and is rewarded by the exclusive right to sell overpriced editions. If they are as persistent as my high school’s, and cheap, this might well be a decent way to get the job done. I’m not sure response to class agents would be much better, especially if they went by all-class email.

#3 Comment By Seth On October 5, 2006 @ 1:57 pm

I had a similar experience, Jonathan. But I have to admit, dealing with a big corporation asking for all of my info makes me unhappy, and I think I’d prefer if Williams used class agents or at least something more personal and/or Williams-related than Harris Connect Corp. Inc.

#4 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On October 5, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

Alternatively, since everyone reading this blog has a connection to the Internet, you can update your information at Ephnet, https://alumni.ephnet.org/awc/. Ephnet is a Web-based front-end to the college’s alumni database, so I’m sure it’s the fallback information that the college uses if Harris can’t get in touch with you.

Yeah, I kind of chuckled at the spamlike e-mail warning about the forthcoming spamlike e-mail. Still, if you have patience this problem is self-correcting. In 20 years everyone at the college who isn’t quite sure how to use this newfangled Internet will have retired.

#5 Comment By Laura ’92 On October 5, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

I just moved to a new home. Two weeks ago, I updated my information on the website that Guy mentioned. However, when I logged on the the Harris website today, I found that they still had my old contact information. Is that because they harvested the info before I updated my info and their database is not linked to the ephnet one?

Also, I don’t remember receiving the first request for information from Harris. I even checked my email’s trash and couldn’t find it. I don’t think they sent out proper emails the first time or perhaps it was immediately filtered out as spam.