Standard Response

Here’s the response I usually send to people who send me UCE (unsolicited commercial email), generated because they don’t have a clean, confirmed email list:


My name is David H. Lawrence XVII. I am an actor in Los Angeles. I’m also an evangelist for the use of confirmation loops in email marketing.

You’ve sent me the following email in error. You’ve done so simply because you do not employ a simple email confirmation loop when a customer signs up for your list, or buys the product or service you’re selling.

If you’re not familiar with a confirmation loop, the process usually goes like this:

1. Your customer gives you an email address to put on your mailing list.
2. You send an email message to that email address, that includes a specially coded unique link. If the customer really wants to be on your list, they click on that link to confirm their choice. The message also contains instructions for anyone who gets the message in error – a misspelling, a typo, a mistake in recollection of the customer’s correct email address, a purposeful deception in the email address, and even the correct address but to a customer that decides they don’t want to be on your list. Those instructions usually tell that recipient to ignore the message, not to click on the link, and they will receive no more communication from you.
3. Once the coded link is clicked, the customer is taken to your website where the link is recognized and they are then, and only then, added to your list. If you never hear from the customer via that coded link, they are NOT added to your list.

You’ve done none of this – you added your customer to your list without checking to see if they were accurately giving you their email address.

It may be a mistake on the part of your customer, your company’s customer service reps, or it may be a malicious attempt to joe-job me. Whatever the reason, you should not only be aware of it, you should fix it.

To be clear: I never asked to be on your list, but your customer probably did. Your customer did not receive this email, I did. So, not only did you send the email to someone unlikely to purchase from you, you failed to make contact a customer who actually wants to purchase from you.

Here’s how you can avoid this in the future: when someone signs up for your mailing list, immediately send out a confirmation email to the email address you were given by that customer, to make absolutely sure that they were accurate, or cared, or didn’t just want to get something from you and had to give up some email address to get that something even if the email address they gave you wasn’t actually theirs.

Do not harbor the misconception that not having a clean, confirmed double-opt-in email list is too much work, or doesn’t matter, because it actually does. You might be able to brag in marketing meetings how big your mailing list is, but you’re wasting time sending emails to people like me because I’ll never buy from you (and I’ll actually tell people about this email I’m sending you at my website,, and your overall stats include our non-response rate unnecessarily, making your ROI analyses completely and irretrievably inaccurate.

Add to this that, although you may be compliant with the formatting requirements of The CAN-SPAM Act with regard to the individual messages you’ve sent out, your not having a confirmation loop in your process means that you’ve now sent out UCE. That stands for Unsolicited Commercial Email – also known as spam. In some states, people who receive such messages unsolicited, as I did, can take you to court. It’s a small claims case in most states, and some people make their living doing this.

That’s not all. Each separate email message sent (and that may tens of thousands or more in your case) in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is also subject to Federal penalties, separate from civil action from the recipient of your UCE, of up to $16,000 (again, that’s for each message sent), so non-compliance can be costly. But avoiding running the risk of penalty under the CAN-SPAM Act isn’t complicated. You can completely avoid suffering any penalties by adding that confirmation loop to your signup procedure – it requires every one of your customers to reply to a second email that you send to the address they give you, confirming both the accuracy of their email address, and that they actually want to be on your list. Keep that reply in your records, and you’ll have all the defense you need should any doubt arise.

Add a confirmation loop to your process today, please. I look forward to hearing that you’ve done so so that I can update your status on


By the way, that almost never generates a response. But, as more and more people come to this site, and start describing these companies as OOPS!NOLOOPS offenders, this notice will become more and more useful for complaints.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *