Is Plaxo A Namecard Spammer?

What gives at Plaxo?

I’ve decided to stop recommending what seemed to be a pretty good way to stay up to date with contacts after a series of weird incidents when folk unknown to me were somehow able to add their contacts into my Outlook address book without my say-so (today’s was someone from a PR company I’ve had dealings with before, but never, to my knowledge, with this person).

I’ve raised this issue before and have waited for more than two months for word from Plaxo about the matter, so they’re off my Christmas card list and, until they can explain what’s going on, and, if required, fix this I don’t recommend anyone else use it. Plaxo is a good idea, but the privacy concerns about it all have scared people right from the start. This latest hole — where, apparently, anyone can spam their way into your address book, along with comments like “Winner of the PR Week Asia ‘New Consultancy of the Year’ award for 2001″ — isn’t going to put minds at ease.

Until then, I’m forced to ask:

  • How do people I don’t know know that I’m on Plaxo?
  • How can they automatically add their contact details to my Outlook address book without me approving it?
  • Is this how Plaxo is making its money? Charging some folk to spam possible clients with their namecard?

Looking forward to getting some answers on this, which I’ll pass along to the blog.

29. January 2004 by jeremy
Categories: Software, apps | Tags: , , , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Please read my responses below.

    Note: Plaxo absolutely, positively does not insert any contacts into your address book unless you have them their already. This is a user error (or a user interface error).

    Jeremy wrote: “I’ve decided to stop recommending what seemed to be a pretty good way to stay up to date with contacts after a series of weird incidents when folk unknown to me were somehow able to add their contacts into my Outlook address book without my say-so (today’s was someone from a PR company I’ve had dealings with before, but never, to my knowledge, with this person).

    Plaxo response: When you start using Plaxo, we automatically connect you to anyone in your address book that is using Plaxo. This results in you receiving Plaxo messages that say: “Fred Smith’s Updated information has been inserted into your address book.” While this is exactly what is supposed to happen, Plaxo needs to improve the message to make it more clear.

    Plaxo response: Just to be clear, Plaxo does not add contacts to your address book (unless of course, you send an update request to that person).

    Jeremy wrote: “I’ve raised this issue before and have waited for more than two months for word from Plaxo about the matter, …”

    Plaxo response: You contacted our PR rep in November and she responded the next day. You replied back to her and she replied again. She did not forward your last reply to us (this is an outside agency). And, we received an email from you today (after you wrote this article).

    My apologies for the disconnect (however, in general our PR agency is not the best way to get technical support). We have been working very to hard to build first-class customer care — please give us another try.

    Jeremy wrote: “… so they’re off my Christmas card list and, until they can explain what’s going on, and, if required, fix this I don’t recommend anyone else use it.”

    Plaxo response: There is no bug. However, there’s no doubt that we (plaxo) need to improve the message.

    Jeremy wrote: “Plaxo is a good idea, but the privacy concerns about it all have scared people right from the start. This latest hole — where, apparently, anyone can spam their way into your address book, along with comments like “Winner of the PR Week Asia ‘New Consultancy of the Year’ award for 2001″ — isn’t going to put minds at ease.”

    Plaxo response: This person was already in your address book. Where did this person put “Winner of the …”, in their title?

    [continued in next post]

    Rikk Carey
    vp of engineering
    Plaxo, Inc.
    rikk@plaxo.com

  2. More responses from Plaxo…

    Jeremy wrote: “Until then, I’m forced to ask: How do people I don’t know know that I’m on Plaxo?”

    Plaxo response: They don’t. Plaxo treats your address book as sacred and would never add contacts unless you directed us to.

    Jeremy wrote: “How can they automatically add their contact details to my Outlook address book without me approving it?”

    Plaxo response: If the person is already IN your address book AND they are a Plaxo user, we automatically connect you together. Of course, you can overwrite whatever data they send to you. Plaxo does NOT add contacts to your address book.

    Jeremy wrote: “Is this how Plaxo is making its money? Charging some folk to spam possible clients with their namecard?”

    Plaxo response: No. Since we are not actually doing this, we cannot charge for it. 🙂

    Jeremy wrote: “Looking forward to getting some answers on this, which I’ll pass along to the blog.”

    Plaxo response: If you have any other questions about Plaxo, please feel free to send them to me directly (rikk@plaxo.com).

    Rikk Carey
    vp of engineering
    Plaxo, Inc.
    rikk@plaxo.com