SpontaneiTea

A casual tea blog by Alex Zorach

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Junk in the RateTea Contact Form

November 12th, 2013 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

One thing that I never anticipated when I founded RateTea, and which has never ceased to amaze me, is the amount of complete garbage I get in the RateTea contact form.  I’m not talking about spam, I’m talking about inquiries that are misplaced or irrelevant.  Here is one of the latest:

Please let know whole rate of our product.

I don’t even know what this means.  I frequently get all sorts of inquiries from people wanting to buy or sell all sorts of things that are completely irrelevant…for example, things tangentially related to the tea industry, like people selling (or wanting to buy) packaging or boxes.  Most of these are from people with exceptionally poor command of the English language.  Sometimes I struggle to even understand what they’re saying.  Often, the broken language is extremely formal in construction, which is sometimes amusing.

Here’s another one I got:

Please give me more details as to how exactly this works and if there are any costs involved. Please don't have anyone call me, just send me an email reply. Thank you. Sarah.

This had an email address with a domain that had no website on it.  Typing this text into google, I see this message is a form message that’s been sent to many people.  What is this one, a scam to harvest email addresses for spamming?

People Writing as if RateTea were Customer Service for a Tea Company

One thing I get frequently is people writing to me at RateTea, as if they were writing to the customer service of a tea company.  It happens most often with people writing to Bromley Tea, but it happens with many other companies as well.  I think I have a vague understanding of why this happens, but it still seems perplexing.  For example, if you type bromley tea contact into Google, the first several results are the Bromley tea website, which clearly has an email address, but no web contact form.

If this email address somehow didn’t satisfy someone, and someone were to scan the search results until they got to the first one that offered a contact form, this would take them to the 5th or so result, which is RateTea.  Bromley tea is one of the companies for which we frequently get contacted with messages that seem like they are being written to customer service.

I always respond courteously to these messages, but I can’t help but feeling a little perplexed at the complete irrelevance of them.  Some of them are minute complaints about the quality of the paper packaging on their tea bags, or commentary on their packaging.  Isn’t it clear that RateTea is RateTea, and not one of the companies listed?  The contact form says “Contact RateTea”, not “Contact Name-of-Company”.  Our page on Bromley Tea also clearly links to the official page.  I wonder how many of the superfluous contacts I get in the form are people who are, for what ever reason, running on autopilot and not thinking at all about who they are writing to.  I sometimes wonder if they are older people who are completely unfamiliar with how the web works and perhaps browsing for one of the first times.

At any rate, some of the messages give me a good chuckle, and the ones that I think are wasting my time I just delete without thinking much about.

What do you think?

  • Can you think of any explanation for the volume of junk I get in the RateTea contact form?  Does the lack of English skills fully explain the irrelevant business inquiries?  Is my theory of older adults unfamiliar with the internet adequate to explain the strange volume of messages I get that seem to be addressed to Bromley tea’s customer service?
  • Do you think that one message I pasted is a scam, or something else?
  • If you run an online business with a contact form, have you also had a huge volume of off-topic and irrelevant inquiries (not to be confused with actual spam or scams)?
  • How would you respond to off-topic inquiries?  At what point do you think they’re wasting your time and would you just delete them?  Which ones would you take the time to respond to politely?

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Profile photo of thedevotea thedevotea

    Peoples are stoopid.

    • Profile photo of xavier xavier

      And bots even more.

    • Profile photo of cazort cazort

      I’ve had that same thought; I like to give people the benefit of the doubt a little bit.

      I would not consider myself a stupid person, yet when I look at my behavior over the course of my life, I see a lot of examples of stupid behavior. I think that people tend to act stupidly in specific circumstances…like when they are acting hastily and are using unfamiliar technology or are in some context that is completely alien to them.

      When I started RateTea, I was doing something very different in an internet landscape that was almost completely dominated by companies selling tea. The fact that RateTea does not sell any tea, and is unaffiliated with a company that does, is somewhat unusual and is one of the things that sets it apart. So on some level, I think it’s understandable that I get some inquiries from people who think that RateTea is a tea company.

      In the end though, I do think the behavior and messages that I see through the form are, often, very stupid. I don’t think this means that the people are stupid, just that they’re acting stupidly in the moment.

      And I would really love if people would act more intelligently…I think they’d benefit and I also think it would be more respectful of my time, although I do think I would miss out on some amusing moments from time to time.

  • Dan K.

    Ha Ha. Thanks for posting that. I Googled “Please give me more details as to how exactly this works and if there are any costs involved.” After getting the same thing in my contact form. I think it’s automated. I checked my access log and saw the IP grabbed one HTML page per second and didn’t download any images. I blocked the IP.

    • Profile photo of cazort cazort

      Good idea; I think a ban is definitely warranted. If you haven’t done so you might also want to report the IP to one of the shared lists of spammers.

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