Reaping The Whirlwind Of Spam Rage

By | December 10, 2004

A painful story of what can happen when you let your spam rage get the better of you.

Rachel Buchman was a reporter with National Public Radio affiliate WHYY when she tried to get off a mailing list from conservative for-profit company, according to a piece she wrote for the Philadelphia Weekly.

More annoying than the emails themselves is the frightening inability to get off the lists that generate them. I tried to unsubscribe from’s e-newsletter list. It didn’t work. Then I began deleting the emails. Eventually, I felt forced to contact them directly.

I called the number at the bottom of the last email I received.

An answering machine picked up. I was incensed that I wasn’t going to finally get to ask a real person to remove me from the list. The answering machine asked the caller to leave a name and number, and without thinking, that’s what I did.

The message she left included not only her name and number but “called the staff at horrible people and wished their children ill”. She writes, “It was a terrible message, and I apologize to anyone I offended.” (If you really need to read what she said in full, carries it. (There’s an interesting piece from the Blue Lemur here on the incident, and LaptopLobbyist itself.)

A few days later all hell broke loose as the head of called to tell her he’d be campaigning to have her fired. “The man said I represented the “liberal media,” and that I therefore had no right to report the news.” He turned the voicemail into an mp3 file (not sure if it’s still active) and “sent it out to the people on the company’s list, the media and my employer. He’d post it to later in the week.”

Although Buchman was asked by her boss to give an apology, which she said she would gladly do, “the apology wasn’t brought up at work the next day when my professional relationship with WHYY ended.” No futher explanation is given, although some accounts say she quit before she was fired.  “Nothing takes away what I did or what I said. I acted in anger, and that was wrong,” she writes. “But actively seeking to destroy my life and career was not warranted.”

I can’t help feeling sorry for Buchman. A dumb thing it was that she did, but I’ve yelled at people on the phone before (sorry staff from banks, electricity companies, airlines, phone companies, and relatives) and said things I probably shouldn’t have said. Let’s hope no one recorded them. Oh, and I hope those she’s offended accept her apologies and that she finds another job.

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