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An ill-timed Vonage database e-mail solicitation

A database shoots out an e-mail solicitation using the name of a friend in the hospital.

So, I know we all get on lists, and our names are stored in databases. It's annoying, but it's a fact of life.

But I was reminded of that Thursday in a particularly annoying way.

A friend of mine, who shall go unnamed, is a Vonage subscriber. Presumably, at one point in the past, she put my e-mail address on the company's Refer-A-Friend list. If I signed up, she would get something, maybe a month of free service or somesuch. I really don't remember if this had happened, but it's certainly possible.

What I do know is that on Thursday I got an e-mail from Vonage with the subject line, "(Your friend) Wants You to Enjoy a Special Limited-Time Offer."

Now, whether or not this friend signed me up in the past I really have no idea. But I know that she didn't sign me up any time recently, because for more than two weeks she's been in the hospital, unconscious after an accident.

So when I got this e-mail today, I was more than a little angry. I know databases exist and names come to the top of them over time, but this just felt dishonest.

I wasn't able to reach Vonage about this today, since it was already after-hours at their offices when I got the message. But the company's external public relations agency said I will certainly get a response from Vonage tomorrow. In the meantime, I think it would be worth them thinking about whether they want to make sure the people whose names they use to solicit business are really in a position to be wanting them to do it on their behalf.