30 Minute Photos Etc. Disbands E-Mail System After Spamming Customers

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You can have your photographs developed in a half-hour, but communication with 30 Minute Photos Etc. will take decidedly longer after it inadvertently spammed hundreds of its customers this week.

The Irvine, CA, company said yesterday that it will disband the e-mail system it uses to communicate with its customers in favor of the telephone and mail.

The company on Wednesday sent customers e-mails about updates and new product offerings. 30 Minute Photos Etc. sent out a message about a new service enabling customers to develop prints from digital images, but instead of only one e-mail per customer, the message went out multiple times.

"People were receiving scores of identical messages about how we can make prints directly from their digital cameras," said Mitchell Goldstone, president of 30 Minute Photos Etc. "Within hours it leaped to hundreds. Customers were asking to be removed from the distribution list, yet they still received more e-mails."

Goldstone said the problem laid with the company's Internet service provider, Cox Communications Inc., and its Cox@Home service. The company acknowledged it had a problem with its e-mail service in Orange County, CA, where 30 Minute Photos Etc. is located.

"My company's reputation has been weakened and we learned a distressful fact that the Internet proved to be fallible," Goldstone said. "Reverting to the phone, we were afraid to explain the situation via e-mail."

He said 30 Minute Photos Etc. has disabled its e-mail communication system but will still use e-mail for other services, such as its new Internet service that provides photographic prints from e-mailed digital files.

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