CDW Resorts to Spam

As an independent network consultant, the real job, many of my clients have accounts setup with my reps at various technology suppliers. One of those is CDW. Yesterday I received an email from a client asking “What is this?”. In looking at the forwarded email there was a PDF attachment. It was a quote from CDW. Since I handle all of the quotes for this client I found it strange. His remote office does buy their own toner from CDW, but those are not quotes.

It turns out the quote was for an HP server for a total of $1108.56. I would have thought he had hired another consultant except that he sent this to me. Wheew! I felt a little better at that point at least, but what was this quote and who requested it? The client thought maybe an employee had tried to get some hardware! A bit more investigation… Ah Ha!

The subject of the email was “CDW-D Quote ######## – PO Ref: CDW SPECIAL SERVER PROMOTION”.

I almost immediately knew this was an ad but the email continued:

Dear (Customer Name was Here)

CDW has received your request. Please take a moment to review the attached Quote for accuracy and completeness.

If you find any discrepancies or need further assistance, please feel free to contact your CDW account manager.

Thank you for choosing CDW.

The clients “request”? Check the attached Quote for accuracy and completeness? How could anyone know the accuracy and completeness if they did not request it?

Spam from CDW. Some would argue spam is the wrong word and I really don’t want to debate terminology. This was a deceptive email. It abused an existing client relationship. It indicated the information had been requested which was an outright lie. Wow. The boilerplate quote had the client number, rep’s name, an official quote number and an over $1100 total – and it was all an ad. Fake. Not a real quote. OK, a real quote number, but if I did not ask for it then it’s an ad. That, to me, makes it SPAM. To my client it was cause for concern that some unauthorized person had accessed his account.

I called the rep and he explained that yes, it was a “promotion” (read: AD and then substitute: SPAM for the previous word AD). I explained my clients concerns as well as my opinion on the issue.

My opinion: Ads are Ads, Newsletters are Newsletters and Quotes are Quotes. Calling an ad a quote does not make it one. In the newspaper now-a-days ads are clearly labeled ‘Advertisment’ so there is no confusion. On google, ads are clearly labeled ‘Sponsored Links’. Why? Because it pissed people off when ad content was mixed with informational content without a clear disclaimer.

Very quickly after the call my rep emailed me and asked that I send my concerns to him, so he can forward them to management. He is good, no question about it. I have always said he is one of the best reps I have had there. The management on the other hand should have known better. We all are inundated with email. Much of it needed, but most of it crap. Filters catch most of the crap portion, but unless CDW wants to be flagged as a spam sender this should never happen again.

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