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Analysis Last December we received a spam email, which appeared to come from T-Mobile, advertising "exclusive offers and great phone deals". We also heard from some readers who were equally surprised to have received spam from a generally well-reputed company.

So we thought we'd find out how we ended up on this mailing list.

We contacted T-Mobile and were initially assured that it only uses opt-in systems - but we never opted in, so why did we get the email?

It seems T-Mobile uses a company called Quantum Media for its mailings. Quantum Media then subcontracts the work to Mailtrack Media, which provides the tracking and management, but doesn't actually send the messages.

The messages are sent by another company, E-Mail Movers, which also provides the list of opted-in email addresses. This is where the trail starts to get a little murky.

It seems that E-Mail Movers found its list to be a little short, so contacted Century Communications, which provided an additional list of interested customers, and assurances that everyone on the list had agreed to be contacted with deals of this kind.

So where did Century Communications get the list from? It bought it from a bloke on eBay for £20. The chap assured the company the list was legit - 200 million opted-in email addresses. Being trusting souls, Century took his word for it.

We tried to contact "Colin", the bloke from eBay, to find out where he got the list from, but had had no luck at time of printing.

So, just to recap, T-Mobile hired Quantum Media who hired Mailtrack Media who hired E-Mail Movers who bought a list from Century Communications who bought it from a bloke on eBay.

All the companies involved are British-based and signed up to the Direct Marketing Association, as well as being responsible to the Information Commissioner's Office. In light of our complaint, E-Mail Movers has lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner who will investigate the procedures used by Century Communications.

The companies involved here send out millions of emails for high-profile customers, and very rarely receive any kind of complaint.

They have all assured us they are taking our complaint seriously, and will be "reviewing procedures in light of this case". Ultimately, companies will only take action if customers complain. So if you get spam from a business you consider legitimate, complain direct to the firm and let it try to unravel the chain of events which led to your address being sold on eBay.

If that doesn't work, let us know. And we'll see if we can track down Colin.®

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