Bridal Email Overload, Part 1, aka: Why I can’t wait to change my last name and email address

I haven’t written in a while, because there hasn’t been a ton to write about, and I’ve been busy, and I’m not in the business of turning this into a wedding blog. (But if you’re looking for one, I highly recommend A Practical Wedding. It’s been the primary thing keeping me sane through this whole planning thing). I’m still going to write about wedding-related things sometimes. I guess that’s better than no blog posts at all, right? (If you started reading this blog because of all my job search posts – sorry! My next post will be about email marketing strategy. Is that better?)

So, since I last wrote, I haven’t really become any less overwhelmed with the thought of planning a wedding, but I have checked one thing off from my wedding to-do list (one thing. That’s it): I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago to do the part that I’m most excited about – dress shopping!

I met up with my mom and sister for a long weekend, and we found my dress! We went to a few smaller boutiques, but ended up purchasing the second dress I tried on (out of about 20 total) – at David’s Bridal. A lot of brides (especially in New York) tend to scoff at DB, since it’s a chain and generally has lower-priced, “off the rack” dresses. I don’t even know how many people asked me if I was going to go shopping at Kleinfeld’s simply because I live in NYC (Ballpark: everyone I’ve had a conversation with about dress shopping). I just can’t justify (or afford) spending more than a NYC months’ rent on a dress.

Anyway, so I had a lovely customer experience at David’s Bridal. My consultant was wonderful, attentive, and understanding. I’m really happy with the dress I picked out and can’t wait to wear it when I marry Andy.

However.

As part of their on-boarding process, when you walk into the store, you have to sit at a table and fill out a form about your wedding. Since most of our wedding’s still a big question mark, I left a lot of it blank. I didn’t know the date or the specific location or who would be in the bridal party and what our colors are. I did, however, know my email address, but I was kind of hesitant to write it on the form. (Why? Because I’m this person.) But I did anyway, because maybe if we throw more wedding information at me, some of it might stick and motivate me to actually plan the wedding.

I went back home from the trip the next day, and then… the emails started.

There were sometimes FOUR a day. Emails about wedding dresses, photography by David’s Bridal, invitations by David’s Bridal, bridesmaid dresses, tuxes at Men’s Wearhouse, Mother of the Bride Dresses, surveys about my customer experience… it was kind of crazy. Of course, I set up my awesome email filters and sent them all to the black hole that is my “Wedding” label in my Gmail account.

But then they started invading my inbox. Only, they weren’t just from David’s Bridal anymore. They were from random vendors in Las Vegas who clearly do not understand the CAN-SPAM act (they didn’t have any kind of unsubscribe option, and when I replied to the email asking to be taken off their list, the email bounced). Where did THEY come from?! And since it was coming from a different email address than DB, it wasn’t filtered into my Wedding Black Hole label.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I soon discovered something worse than invading my inbox: hijacking an after-ballet coffee shop outing with my friend, via my phone. Last Wednesday, I got a phone call from “Chefmaster USA” telling me that I had won a contest that I had entered during a bridal show in Las Vegas, and that I would receive a three-day honeymoon to Costa Rica, free wedding invitations, and a coupon book for more discounts. I mentioned that was odd since I hadn’t been to a bridal show at all, and definitely not in Las Vegas, but didn’t rule out the possibility that well-meaning relatives hadn’t been to one and signed me up for contests.

All I had to do was show up at their cooking show the next night…in Las Vegas. I told them I couldn’t do that because I was in NYC, but perhaps my mom or sister could stop by to pick up my prize. Nope. I was a little skeptical about the whole thing, but, like many other brides (as I found out while researching this company), I had entered a few random wedding-related contests online, so who knew?

So, the lady told me that they had a few other cooking shows in the New York area, and I could maybe go to one of them to get my prize. Okay, now we’re talking. The closest one was in Cherry Hill, NJ (two hours away by car, too many hours away by public transit…). I said sure, and they told me that my fiance and I would BOTH have to show up at 8 pm on Friday night to pick up our prize. I asked if she could email the information about where to go, and she said she couldn’t, so I wrote it down on a napkin. After I got off the phone, I told my friend (who had been sitting there the whole time) about it, and we immediately went to her apartment around the corner to research it. I was hoping I had actually won something, but still feeling skeptical.

Yeah, it turns out it’s similar to a timeshare presentation. According to several different bridal message boards (hey, I found a use for them!), David’s Bridal gives out our contact information to this company, and they contact engaged couples who shop there (so, you know, those of us who do not have a Kleinfeld budget and would likely jump at the chance for a free honeymoon), and then tries to sell them $3500 pots and pans. No joke.

Sure, it was a little disappointing, but I was more annoyed about my contact information being given out than not getting my trip to Costa Rica. From what I read about other brides’ experiences with this company, EVERYONE who gets contacted “wins,” and the people who show up actually do get the prizes. On Friday morning, I got another phone call from the company to confirm that I’d be attending the show, and I said I wouldn’t be able to because it was too far away. She then tried to get me to go to a different show, and I said, “No, we actually just bought new pots and pans, so we don’t need new ones.” And then she hung up pretty quickly.

So, I wasn’t exactly harmed by this in any way (other than annoyance), but I really don’t like that it even happens. I’m glad I didn’t actually go out to New Jersey for this. The night I got the Chefmaster phone call, I did something that, as an email marketer, is kind of like a punch in the face to a company: I not only unsubscribed from the David’s Bridal emails, I also clicked “Report as Spam.” (Note- don’t report an email as Spam unless a company truly is exhibiting sketchy behavior. It affects their ability to send legit emails. In most cases, clicking “unsubscribe” is sufficient. If it doesn’t work, THEN you can report as spam).

But really, what I wanted to do was help them. David’s Bridal has a LOT of potential to have really effective, useful email marketing. I have some suggestions for them in my next post.

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5 Responses to Bridal Email Overload, Part 1, aka: Why I can’t wait to change my last name and email address

  1. Seashell says:

    Good to see a post from you. Is Tinker going to be part of the wedding party?

  2. Josh S says:

    Yeah, that “Free Honeymoon to _____” is a scam. Completely and utterly a scam. First, you have to sit through their hard-sell pitch for $unrelated_product. Then, you have to pay a fee to redeem your “Free” vacation. Then a round of paperwork (that usually gets “lost”). Then another fee. Etc etc etc. Supposedly, it is *possible* to get the actual vacation, but usually only by paying more than you would if you booked it yourself off-the-shelf, and with 50x the hassle. Don’t do it.

    Also, this is why it is incredibly helpful to have/use a “throwaway” email account whenever you give your email to anyone who you do not know personally–retail loyalty cards, online sign-ups, etc. Or, better yet, Mailinator or its ilk. My original aol account from c1995 is still in use, but purely as my “this-is-what-i-use-when-i-think-i’m-going-to-get-spam” account. Works great.

    And good luck getting a spammish company (or one that doesn’t respect your personal info and sells/shares it with 3rd party marketing) to reform their ways. They get paid cash-money to monetize your information. More cash-money when you fill out all the info on your wedding (date/location/colors/etc) because then the marketers know better how to target the ads to you. And I guarantee you that the sale of personal info to 3rd party marketers (as allowed in the fine print on the back page of that survey you filled out) is a BIG revenue stream for David’s Bridal. They’re never going to do away with that.

  3. Kristin says:

    Yeah, I’d definitely rather actually pay for a honeymoon that I know is a real thing. I’m really glad I researched this shady company before actually going to the event.

    My current email will become my “throwaway” email soon enough. But the thing is – I actually would have welcomed some of the emails from DB. I haven’t made any decisions about bridesmaid dresses, tuxes, or anything that anyone else is wearing, so I might have actually wanted to get emails about those things, in my actual email account that I check every day.

    And the thing is- they’re NOT targeting their emails at all. They’re just blasting all of them to everyone. On my form, I put what city my wedding would be in (and it was different than the city I was shopping for a dress in), and yet they still sent me stuff about Las Vegas.

  4. Pingback: Bridal Email Overload, Part 2: How David’s Bridal Can Suck Less at Email | The Settlers Give it Passion

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