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Old 11th November 2013, 12:54   #1
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Default Audi Mumbai South: Spamming customers

Between last night and this morning I have received around 200 emails from Audi Mumbai South and their customer / marketing database which was made public by the sender of the email - Prashant Kulkarni COO.

Although most emails were from the recipients with unsubscribe requests, for some reason all the requests were being sent to all the people on their email list. The barrage got so unbearable that I had to turn off the automatic email download on my phone. Judging by the responses people had given in the emails, most were very irritated with Audi for making their email addresses public in such a manner.

I hope someone takes some legal action against the company for this nuisance.

Audi India should also take some action against their dealer for resorting to cheap marketing tricks like this and degrading their brand.
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Old 11th November 2013, 13:15   #2
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Default Re: Audi Mumbai South: Spamming customers

May be a virus / technical glitch.
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Old 11th November 2013, 13:16   #3
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Default Re: Audi Mumbai South: Spamming customers

+1 to that. I used to receive a load of emails from this dealership. Funny thing is, I've never visited their showroom or shared my contact details with them.

They've since been added to an email filter (i.e. goes straight to trash).
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Old 12th November 2013, 12:53   #4
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Default Re: Audi Mumbai South: Spamming customers

So this was actually quite tragic and hilarious at the same time depending on how your mood is on that Monday morning. I was a recipient of these emails so giving a first hand detailed low down on what happened from my viewpoint.

At about 4 pm on Sunday 10th Nov Audi Mumbai South sends a marketing email. The "TO" field is blank. The "CC" field has 3 email IDs listed below

[The CC vs BCC aspect is critical to what followed. Whether this error is on account of tech unsavvyness on the sender's part, a carelessness error or a technical glitch linked to some auto sending software is probably anyone's guess. Perhaps someone who works at these dealerships could shed light on how these are typically sent and therefore what could be the probably cause. Ultimately of course I suspect it would still simply be best guesses].

Customer2@audimumbaisouth.net; and

These are essentially group email IDs with the target recipient email IDs. Per se, from a privacy standpoint you cannot see the recipient email IDs that underpin these IDs. This is somewhat of a saving grace as will become clearer shortly.

The biggest boo boo is that these should have been put into the BCC field so people "replying all" do not end up emailing the entire group.

Some of the (presumably) less tech savvy people must not have intuitively figured that the above email IDs don't go to Audi personnel but actually go to its customers / target customers.

As some people started replying all saying (unsubscribe me), others started following suit. Because these emails started flooding through, I suspect many who would have ordinarily simply ignored the one off marketing email got irritated and also "replied all" requesting unsubscription. The net cascading effect goes viral because the more unsubscribe emails that kept coming through reply alls the more the irritation and the more the unsubscription requests. Even funnier were the numerous emails replying all imploring others NOT to REPLY ALL.

Apart from the odd suing threats and I never want to see Audi's face again complaints some pretty funny ones came through as well. I remember a simple one liner in particular. It said: "Good morning BMW".

The irony is that unless you reply to the email thread no one can actually see your email ID. I for one chose to adopt this approach.

This went on till about late morning Monday 11th Nov (I got my last email at 10:24 am).

The further irony and saving grace is that the technical solution to this is also very simple (and I am confident this is what they must have done to stop this).

Simply reconfigure the above email IDs to point to a single internal email ID instead of the customers' emails. This way future "reply alls" will no longer spam the entire group. This has to be their biggest saving grace in what is otherwise an unmitigated disaster.

If god forbid they had put the direct email IDs of the customers, the chain would have been out of control because any future reply all would have kept going to everyone and there's nothing Audi could have done to stop it.

This is also of course a double edged sword because when people see what is a customer ID one hopes they will not reply all. But the problem intensified because many customers replying to the group ID thought they were replying to Audi because of the way the ID appears.

The result

Audi's simple marketing email on deal of the month has badly backfired because of one very simple error. Not using BCC. This has to be the cruelest and harshest lesson on email protocols 101. (I'm not even getting into the unsolicited spamming aspect. Clearly many of the IDs were of people that were not even Audi customers or like in my case have never even visited their showroom).

As a result, Audi South dealership has now:

(a) really pissed off many existing as well as potential customers;
(b) got numerous requests to never email them again, which means for any damage control to not piss off these customers further they HAVE TO take them off future marketing emails.

The silver lining?

Like I said, that has to be the double edged sword of using the group IDs. While on the one hand it may have exacerbated the problem, ultimately it was the one reason that could let Audi South control and end the problem as well.

... not until of course my inbox had approximately 180 emails between 4 pm Sunday and about 10:24 am Monday morning. :-)

Last edited by Axe77 : 12th November 2013 at 12:59.
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Old 22nd December 2013, 10:17   #5
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Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
Customer2@audimumbaisouth.net; and

These are essentially group email IDs with the target recipient email IDs.
Just got my most recent advert emailer from Audi South. Seems like they've finally learnt the art of mass mailing. The email now comes FROM and is sent TO an internal email ID, with customers being BCC'd. What's the internal email ID called? "Customer.First". :-)

Just wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the internal crisis meetings when the fiasco happened.
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