Quality spam email from Co-op bank: New message-Secure Activation Confirmation

I’ve written before about badly written spam, such as in this case with comment spam, and how it beggars belief that people obviously spend copious amounts of time and money spreading this crap around the Internet, that it seemed only fair that I applaud spam as well.

I’ve just received some of the best written spam I’ve ever had, this time for Co-Op Bank (who I’m not actually with). The email was very well formatted, and very well written. It has obviously been proof-read (which a lot of spam emails haven’t) and has been constructed by someone who understands the English language. In fact, if it weren’t the fact that the links go to valbis.com instead of the Co-Op, and that I’m not actually with the Co-Op, I may have fallen for this one.

Well ok, I wouldn’t have actually fallen for it, but I bet a lot of people will. Well played lads, that’s some good spam.

Here is the spam email in full, in case you received it yourself and weren’t sure…

From: The Co-operative Bank [mailto:notice.hl43@operative.co.uk]
Sent: 31 October 2011 14:34
Subject: New message-Secure Activation Confirmation.

Dear Customer,

This message confirms your activation of the The Co-operative Bank Online Secure Service on October 31, 2011 13:11:20(GMT). This service provides added safety when you shop online and is offered to you free of charge.

Please click on the following link.

Confirm your details

From now on, when shopping online at participating merchants or logging in to your Personal Account Manager, you will be prompted to enter random sequential characters from your password you created during the service activation. Please keep your password secret as you will need it for future purchases.

Please personalise your Co-operative Bank Secure account as soon as you can. When personalising your account, you will be able to select your own Personal Message and update your email address.
Access Co-operative Bank Secure

Additionally, at this site you will find more information regarding the service and participating merchants.

Alternatively if you have any questions or problems regarding registration, logging in, or shopping with NatWest Secure, we are here to help. Call us on 0875 212 212 or Textphone 0875 213 213. You can always visit the The Co-operative Bank Online Service site for further information.

The Co-operative Bank Secure password protection applies to all cardholders on the account. If this account has an additional cardholder, they should activate the service by visiting the above Secure site.

This is an outbound message only. Please do not reply. Calls may be recorded. Maximum call charge from a BT landline is 8p per minute. Calls from other networks may vary.

Your Bank and the Police will never contact you to ask you to disclose your online banking or payment card PIN’s, or your password information.

Thank you.
The Co-operative Bank Customer Service Centre

Yodel employee speaks out against employer

I had a comment from a Yodel employee on one of the many HDNL/Yodel posts, explaining some of the difficulties the company is experiencing with its workload, and how it is laying off many of the drivers in favour. I thought this comment was so good that it should be added as a guest post. He makes some great points, and confirms what many Yodel customers have suspected…

Author : Yodel employee

I work for this company and can really sympathise with a lot of disgruntled people who have experienced issues.

However, I have to mention that there are people that work for this company that actually care. Just like in other companies, we are just let down by people who take short cuts and don’t give a damn about the consequences on customers. For the position I work in, it is so difficult to repair situations and at times you feel helpless at the chaos that occurs around you.

Yodel came about when HDNL acquired DHL Domestic (formerly Securicor Omega), so I knew things we not going to end well.

I normally monitor the emails and am appalled at the amount of complaints, missing parcels and delay queries I have to answer. There is no concept of adhering to standards or addressing poor service/performance. Yodel have made huge staff cut backs, drafted in a host of self employed couriers (without doing background checks) but persist with them as they are cheaper than employing drivers and are continually restructuring the organisation as well as the systems we use.

As a result, we have had IT issues, problems tracking parcels and the customer has suffered. We have lost so many customers in the past year, many of whom had been with Securicor Omega. I am someone that takes pride at what I do and really try my best so seeing this damage unfolding is depressing.

Each employee is pushed to work harder and for less which kills any lingering bits of motivation anyone has. Working for this company for the last year has been demoralising and very frustrating.

Like Lee Stevens, I will also very likely lose my job as the company looks to close sites and claw back money. With that decision they will lose a lot of employees with years of experience and many who actually care about what they do.

For me though, it may be a blessing.

Camping is for other people

I have a few friends who are into camping, for some strange reason. My former lodger loved nothing more than packing his rucksack, taking his tent, his mini burner and a tin of beans and heading off up the Lakes to spend days freezing his nuts off in the wilderness.

Oddly, I didn’t fancy joining him. I also have friends who are into ‘podding’ which, although it may sound as though it’s some wife swap game, is in fact a cross between camping and staying in a hotel – you stay in a purpose built wooden structure, one that is still too much like a tent for my liking.

Now it’s not like I haven’t tried camping, because I have. I have tried it once, and hated it. My loathing for this most British of tradition wasn’t down to the loathsome British weather either, as I tried my camping experience in Cannes, in the South of France, where the weather is decidedly more ‘un-British’.

The problem was that I was completely unprepared for the whole ordeal, having borrowed a tent from my Aunty (who, at the time, ran a caravan and camping shop, so you would expect success). Despite being asked, nay, ordered, by my friend to ‘check’ the tent before we set off, I presumed that, because it came from my Aunty, that it would be ok. I presumed wrong. Firstly, the tent didn’t have any poles. For some reason my aunty had forgotten these most vital of camping paraphernalia. Secondly, even if the tent did have poles, it would have been uninhabitable anyway because the last person to use it hadn’t let it dry before packing it away, which apparently you’re supposed to do before storing a tent. It stank. It stank so bad it spelled as though a rat had died in there, and had been rotting for years.

We slept in the car.

The next day I, under orders, found a camping shop where I, using my best French, managed to purchase what I believed to be a tent. The keyword there is ‘believed’. Once again my lack of care and attention at what should have been a straightforward task was set to bit me on the ass, as I delayed putting up the ‘tent’ until after we had returned from ‘le pub’. It was now dark and, in some ironic twist as though Cannes knew we were from the UK, it was raining.

As we attempted to erect this tent under nightfall, and in largely unpleasant conditions, it became apparent that it wasn’t particularly ‘big’. In fact, it was very small indeed, almost as though it were half a tent, with no roof.

It was. It was a windbreaker.

My failure at ensuring the first tent was complete and didn’t smell of ‘merde’ was compounded by my failure to actually buy a tent the second time.

We slept in the car.

So you see, camping isn’t for me. Unless you can buy tents that are inflatable buildings, where you erect them simply by pulling a chord and then sleep on a cushion of air, rather than on a sheet resting on a rock hard floor that hasn’t seen rain until the very night I attempt to erect a windbreaker, then I’m not interested in camping.

I’ll settle for hotels, with king-size beds and room service. Camping is for other people.

Link building mistakes: comment spam

Being someone who runs, shall we say, a fair number of blogs, I get one or two spam comments posted on different websites from people looking to ‘build links’ for SEO. Some of these comments are well written, and reference the blog itself, whereas some are just utter rubbish, written either by automated systems or by people who have only a passing familiarity with the English language.

Now, while it’s very easy for me to identify which comments are genuine and which are posted purely for SEO purposes, it is interesting to see which companies and websites employ SEO companies that use these black hat, spam tactics.

So, here are a couple of the best spam comments I have received lately, complete with the emails of the ‘people’ who left them, and the websites who have been using dodgy SEO link building techniques.

Posted by: mark clayson
URL: markclaysoncomputers.com
Email: VercherArrollo90@gmail.com
Submitted on 2011/10/05 at 10:07 pm

Hi my loved one! I want to say that this article is amazing, great written and come with approximately all vital infos. I?d like to look extra posts like this .

I’m willing to guess that ‘Mark Clayson’ didn’t post this himself, as the English is so poor it’s clearly not from someone who has English as a first language. The email address used, a disposable Gmail address, is a clear giveaway that the poster is in the habit of posting bulk comments and isn’t actually Mark Clayson.

Posted by: language blog, job market, bilingual jobs, multilingual jobs, expat employees, language jobs, blog
URL: blog.toplanguagejobs.com
Email: VerenChronister3005@gnumail.com
Submitted on 2011/10/06 at 12:11 pm

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognise what you are speaking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly also consult with my website =). We can have a link change arrangement among us

This meaningless drivel was posted on the same day, using a very similar email address format. What I like about this comment is that it’s absolute garbage, making no sense, yet is promoting a website offering ‘language jobs’. What a cracking advert for the website! I bet the marketing department at toplanguagejobs.com will be thrilled to have their website and brand associated with this kind of crap.

Building links for SEO is important, but not as important as building them properly. If you employ an SEO company or link builder that uses link building techniques such as this you’ll end up with some seriously poor quality links, and your brand damaged by the nature of the links – and you might end up as the subject of a blog on MrDaz.com, which is far worse!