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Subscribers to the UK mailing list of Bang & Olufsen (B&O), the upmarket Hi-Fi firm, were bombarded with six million emails this week. List membes are hopping mad, but B&O blames the problem on flaws with some of its customers' email systems, rather than any security breach on its part.

An email plugging an integrated TV/DVD sent out to the list on Monday (24 January) generated a message storm when it hit buggy Small Business Server 2003 servers. The well-known glitch in email systems of three of the recipients of the message generated a blitz of replicated emails.

In the resulting chaos, the 20,000 recipients of list received between a handful and hundreds of messages apiece, according to B&O staffer Stephen Anderson, who looks after the list. Up to six million messages were generated in the spam blizzard before the plug was pulled on the offending servers. He said none of these messages were viral, but acknowledged they caused huge inconvenience. "People have the right to complain , but the problem was not our fault," Anderson told El Reg.

Anderson said the four-line long email, which had no attachment, was sent out to recipients of the list as blind carbon copies. It remains unclear how the list became exposed, or what triggered the message storm. Suggestions by some recipients that B&O sent out a virus or that police became involved in dealing with the problems are both untrue, Anderson said. The original message was sent via a Dublin ISP by B&O's Belfast office. B&O Belfast has decided to abandon email marketing as a result of its experiences but the company will continue to use the approach elsewhere in the UK. ®

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