How Much Does Spam Cost You?

from the let's-get-some-facts dept

Anti-spammers say spam is costly. Spammers (and their supporters) say that’s a lie: the only costs are people hitting delete. From my standpoint, this ignores the annoyance factor of having to sort through all that crap to find my legitimate mail, and to be bugged constantly with offers I certainly have no interest in. The usual reply from anti-spammers is that there are huge infrastructure costs – but now a spam supporter is raising questions about that as well, and an anti-spammer doesn’t have the facts. InternetWeek’s senior editor, Mitch Wagner is asking people to send him real examples of how spam is costly – specifically from the enterprise level. Hopefully, some readers here can help him out.

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Comments on “How Much Does Spam Cost You?”

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mark says:

I see tons of it too.

It’s not unsual for me to see my spam : legit email ratios running 3-4:1. As a developer, I have alias’s on a lot of sites for reporting problems and monitoring feedback mechanisms. That currently works out to anywhere from 150-200 spams a day I must sort through to get at the stuff I’m paying to get. About 15% of that is quasi-targeted in the sense that some scraper bot has found a site based on keyword density and assumes any address listed is going to be interested in their product/service. They are WRONG.

Another 3-5% have some javascript that was only tested for Windows enviroments and/or Explorer browsers. I don’t use either except for testing. The crappy scripting often locks up my browser or crashes my machine. The reboot time is lost productivity.

HR services weasels like Jobwarehouse or Americanjobs are the worst about this, closely followed by construction/remodelers who apparently see part of the phrase information architect on my website and assume I am somehow interested in construction topics.

The problem is definitely growing worse. For fly-by-night operations or general interest products like credit cards, why bother targeting when you can reach everyone of only fractions of a cent? How many toner replacement ads do I need to see every day before my requirements are saturated? If I responded to 1/100th of the penis enlargement offers I get, it would quickly weigh more than I do.

Since there is no master “leave me the fuck alone” list to opt-out of, when a list is resold to a new company I have to opt-out all over again. I know this goes on because I’m beginning to see botched and mutated addresses that never existed at all in the real world ebb and flow as one vendor decides a list is stale and sells/trades it to another.

Too often there is no legit unsubscribe option at all. If you are a full time spamming service, this week’s HGH, opt-outs, add build next week’s cable descrambler list out of the known live addresses from accumlated unsubscribes.

Everybody on the internet has something to sell. If “just delete it” becomes the legit standard I will have to switch to some sort of white list only or I will be buried as more and more businesses attempt to address what they decide are my latent needs.

thecaptain says:

spam costs

Using the filters and the “just hit delete” option that seems to be popular with just about every d*mn spammer that is interviewed these days, I can tell you that in time alone dealing with spam costs me about 50 to 60 cents a day, I’d estimate..judging from my salary.

“What? Only 50 cents!!! That’s NOTHING!!” says scum sucking spammer…

Well tell ya what…add it up.

50 cents for each and every day of the year (since I check my personal mail daily) comes out to $182.50 …that’s almost TWO F**K*N HUNDRED BUCKS that *I* HAVE to pay because those *SSH*LES want to peddle their crap in my mail box.

The amount may not be astronomical, but WHY should *I*? be forced to pay for something I don’t want? Even if it was less than a penny per day its still too much.

Why can’t people understand that?

I didn’t even factor in the cost in bandwidth (I have a 6Gig download limit…but conceivably, spam DOES take up some of that…so its eating up something that’s limited…even a little is too much.)

August Jackson (user link) says:

Cost of SPAM? Funny you should ask...

This is a very well-timed question for me. I am currently on a short holiday without my laptop(woo hoo). I generally try to do what little keeping in touch I prefer to do on such holidays via my mobile (AT&T Wireless mmode– I’m at an internet cafe right now just FYI). The considerable amount of SPAM that makes it through the filters on my mail server makes it a tremendous pain to seperate the wheat from the chaff using my mobile. Part of that has to do with the volume of spam (well over half my e-mai even after several attempts to filter) and part of it has to do with the inadequate interface of mmode to allow quick deletion of unwanted messages. For a person less patient than myself this would make mmode and other mobile data offerings border on the unusable for checking e-mail.

So, cost to me? A fair amount of time and of course the cost of the wireless data. The cost for wireless carriers who are desperate to get their users to take advantage of GPRS and wireless data has the potential to be considerable as well.

Michael Bender (user link) says:


I Administrate a medium size network which on avarage recieves 4000+ peices of spam a day. This is after DNS Blocks and very stringent firewall rules. Then there was the cost of having to get off the black lists myself when some of the spam merchants exploited a vulnaribility in my email software and used us as an open realy. Spam is Very expensive to most of business today both in lost hours and in bandwith and storage. Anyone who tells you different has somthing to sell.

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