A few years ago, Neil Schwartzman downloaded—but never used—the trial version of an anti-spam software program. "It turned out it was Windows-only," he explains at his blog, "so I never installed it, as I use a Mac. Have done since 1986."

Following the download, he received the customary follow-up—one email to welcome him, and two engaging him as a potential customer. "The subscription for the free software ran out, I opted out of their emails, and thought 'that is that,'" he continues.

But for Schwartzman it was only the beginning. A few months later he received—once again—the original welcome message, as well as a repeat of the first follow-up message asking if everything is okay. Actually, he replied, the answer is no.

But instead of working to ensure Schwartzman would not be bothered with unwanted email, the company began to insist via email that he was indeed using the software: "I can see that you have connected to our servers today the 18th of October … at 10:39 a.m. Do you not have [our] toolbar in your Outlook?"

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