Because of how sick and tired everyone is of spam, we have found that many users "shoot first and ask questions later." If they don't recognize the email or understand why they have received it, they will often report it as spam -- leaving us to deal with the consequences. For this reason we offer this page that explains how we use email, how we protect our member's email addresses, and why people sometimes report legitimate email as spam.
Because we only send legitimate email to members that have agreed to receive it (see below), we take all reports of iATN spam very seriously. Our legitimate email is crucial to our business. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!
When a person registers to join our network of automotive professionals, we explain that they will need to validate their email address to complete the registration. We then record the timestamp of when they completed the initial registration, along with their IP address. We send a random code to the email address they used to register for the account, and if they do not go to the address specified in that message and enter the code we sent them, their account is never activated.
In the late 90's when spam and email viruses started to become a real problem, we took action. Whereas in the past it was not a big deal for a member's address to appear with their contribututions on our site (web forum posts, sponsor webpages, technical help requests), it became obvious things were changing, and so we made great efforts to not display our member's email addresses anywhere on the site, while still allowing the exchange of email using our web forms.
To help protect our members from viruses and spam, we also developed a special mail server that we use internally to filter replies generated for our automotive technical help requests. This means, even when a member sends out a help request to our email lists, their private email address is not revealed by iATN. Yet the other members can still reply via email, and the email is routed to the original member's email account. We filter out dangerous attachments to offer even more protection.
Email is crucial to our business, as our network is built around the concept of automotive professionals helping each other with tough problems via our email lists. When a person joins our network, we stress that they will begin receiving technical automotive help requests from other iATN members, and they can turn this email off at any time through the account configuration area on our members-only area of the website.
We explain also that we periodically send messages from the iATN staff, some of which may be commercial in nature. These are generally limited to announcements (the most common type of staff email), industry sponsor introductions (when a new industry sponsor joins iATN, we send out an announcement -- these are rare), and occasional notices to our non-sponsoring members promoting the upgraded sponsorship options that are available to them (at most, once a month, but usually much less often).
At the bottom of every email message we send is a link to help members unsubscribe from iATN email, adjust their email settings, or even easily cancel their account (stopping all email from us).
In the event that a member is having trouble configuring their account, and they need help from us, they can contact us. If they send their support request from the address we have on file, it will be seen by a human and handled quickly, usually within a day. If they can't email us from the address we have on file for them, they will receive a notice back that they need to use our support form on the web.
If all else fails, you can speak to a real, live human at the phone number listed here!
Since our founding in 1995, with our long history of heavily using email to provide core services to our members, we have noticed several reasons why people sometimes confuse our email for spam. Usually it has to do with a member forgetting they never cancelled their account, or their email address has been passed on to someone else who didn't know the original owner was a member of iATN. We have seen non-members receive our email due to viruses that have infected iATN members, taking our email as the content and attaching the virus to it.
Sometimes people are too lazy to verify if an email is legitimate or spam, and will just report us rather than take a minute to deactivate their iATN account as described at the bottom of every message we send.
Occasionally our email reaches people it was never intended for, for technical reasons beyond our control. The aforementioned virus issue is one big reason non-members may receive portions of our email. We have seen members accidentally forward their email (at their end) to the wrong address. We've even seen times where an ISP has their mail server configured incorrectly, causing email to one of their customers that is an iATN member being received by another of their customers that is not.
We hope this has explained our use of email and makes it clear that we have never spammed and will never spam. If you still have questions, please contact us.