A couple of days ago I wrote about Spinvox, a startup that converts voicemails to text and sends them to you via email and/or SMS. They are just launching in the U.S., and Spinvox gave us 100 accounts to give away for free (the service is fairly expensive). Over 300 people responded in the comments saying they’d like one.
Since the company itself follows up, the easiest way for us to manage these account giveaways is by asking commenters to leave their email address in the comment itself. The harvesting risk is obvious, but people are willing to take it since it’s the only easy way for us to coordinate things. It’s something we’ve done multiple times in the past successfully.
What we didn’t expect is for one of Spinvox’s competitors, SimulScribe, to harvest the emails and spam those people directly and without their permission. But that’s exactly what they did. At least some people who left their email in the comments to receive a free Spinvox trial got an unsolicited email from the CEO of SimulScribe, James Siminoff, urging them to try their service. Simulscribe even used the subject line “Free Trial from TechCrunch” – a misleading (and trademark violating) message.
This was a bold marketing move, to be sure, but a very questionable one. Potential customers will think about how cavalier SimulScribe is with personal information before doing business with them. For our part, I apologize. And we’ll find a better way of giving accounts away in the future.
To Spinvox – here’s a terrific marketing opportunity. You should give every commenter to that post a free account. They’ll be loyal (and talkative) customers.