Spam Filters – A Double-Edged Sword

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I hate spam, so I use a spam filter.  However, spam filters aren’t perfect.

Last week a customer sent me an important email that my spam filter thought was spam. I had to go into the system, find the email and mark it as a “safe” email before I was able to read the message.

I love my spam filter but it really is a double-edged sword. I have heard a lot of spam filter horror stories.

  • One of my customers stopped getting reservations at his campground. Why? His website host had put new spam filters in place without telling anyone. All of his reservations were going into the spam box.
  • One customer got a complaint from someone who had ordered a book from her website. “I ordered that book a week ago. Why haven’t I heard from you?” The answer was that the sale notification was sitting in a spam folder.

On the other hand, you’ve got to have a spam filter. I heard from a former customer recently, “We’re getting so many spam emails that we don’t pay attention to our email. We just delete everything.”

Wow! I’m not sure how much longer they’re going to stay in business with that attitude. The fact that they’re also deleting inquiries from potential customers doesn’t seem to bother them.

So what’s a business owner to do?

You’ve got to educate yourself about your spam filter. In most cases, your website host will include a spam filter along with their basic services. Make sure you know where emails marked as spam go so you can check on what’s being classified as spam.

Find out how to put email addresses on your safe or white list. This is a list of contacts that get passed through the spam filter without being checked.

Remember my customer from last week? As part of digging their email out of the spam folder, I also made sure to add them to the safe list.

The moral of this story is to get a spam filter.  Then make sure you know how to use it!


  1. Okay, one thing I totally do not understand about spam, at least about people who write articles about spam.

    Often I read newspaper articles by techie types who go on and on about how much spam they get. Like in the Seattle Times. Don’t they have spam filters?

    Also, I have to say I very rarely get spam. Most of the stuff that Outlook puts in my junk mail box is stuff that I actually want. You say you get 150 spams a day–how do you know if your spam filter is filtering?

  2. I used to get 150 spam emails a day. Since I started using my spam filter I only get a few a day. So I know it’s working.

    The reason that I get so much spam is that I have 5 websites. Every one of them has contact information on it. We’re talking spam city! But it’s very important to let people know how to contact me so that’s just the way it has to be.

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