The Case of the Suspicious (Non)Spam Message

It’s been less than two weeks since the Epsilon email breach became public, and the initial chatter has faded to a few quiet discussions among the financial and tech media. To be honest, I probably would have forgotten all about it, were it not for an email from one of Epsilon’s clients, The mail arrived on April 5, five days after Epsilon itself had announced the breach.

It’s not the email itself that stuck in my memory—and my craw. It’s that the email landed in my spam box. Every other email 1-800-Flowers sends me—and it sends me several a week, all because I bought one bouquet for my mother-in-law last May—goes straight to my inbox, which I figure is a tribute to the company’s email marketing team.

But for all of 1-800-Flowers’ apparent savvy regarding email list hygiene, segmentation, reputation scoring, and the like, the company’s important customer service email informing me about the breach was somehow unable to find its way to my inbox. Even though the following day another email from 1-800-Flowers (subject line: “Save 40% on Exotic Pink Roses, just $29.99—LAST CHANCE”) made it into by inbox just fine, thank you.

Could it be that 1-800-Flowers intended the breach notification to go directly to the spam box? Or at the very least, that the company intentionally neglected to take the same deliverability measures that it takes with its marketing emails? Most people don’t check their spam folders with the same diligence they do their inboxes. If I were the cynical sort, I just might believe that 1-800-Flowers didn’t want me to know that my data had been stolen.

That the breach message was the only email from 1-800-Flowers to land in my spam folder rather than my inbox strikes me as more disingenuous than coincidental. Yet because it was an anomaly, the message ended up being much more memorable than if it had arrived in my inbox like every other of its emails—which, ironically enough, I usually send straight to trash without reading, unlike the message that ended up in the spam box.

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