Bank of America mails woman calling her A SLUT AND Officemax Mike Seay Daughter killed in a carcrash!
There’s junk mail, and then there’s nasty mail: San Francisco writer Lisa McIntire says Bank of America sent her a credit card offer addressed to "Lisa Is A Slut McIntire," and she posted photos of it on Twitter on Thursday.
BofA tweeted her an apology and pledged to investigate. [Updated, 5:45 p.m. Feb. 6: But the problem apparently originated with an academic society that was jointly marketing with the bank.]
McIntire, 32, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview that she first learned about the mail in a text exchange with her mother, which she posted on Twitter.
"Interesting piece of junk mail addressed to you. 'Lisa is a slut McIntire,' " her mother texted.
"No kidding. That is how it is addressed!"
The phrasing appears both in the name field of the junk mail and in the photos of the junk mail that McIntire posted online.
"Lisa Is A Slut McIntire, you've earned this special offer," the mailer said in bold letters, in a Visa credit card offer that the letter said was tied to McIntyre's membership in the Golden Key International Honour Society.
Spokespeople for Bank of America did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon. But the bank's Twitter account tweeted at McIntire, "We’re incredibly sorry this happened and are researching now so we can take the appropriate action. We'll follow up with you ASAP."
Golden Key's Twitter account also tweeted at her: "Hi Lisa. We're so sorry this has occurred. We are investigating and will reach out to you personally soon."
[Updated, 5:45 p.m. Feb. 6: Later in the day, McIntire said, a Golden Key spokeswoman called and told her someone had inserted “Is A Slut” into McIntire’s society membership account sometime between 2004 and 2008.
"They haven’t been able to pinpoint how 'Is A Slut' became my middle name, but they’re still investigating," McIntire tweeted. The Golden Key spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.]
[Updated, 6:25 p.m. Feb. 6: "I have personally spoken with Ms. McIntire tonight and we are researching this issue," Melissa Leitzell, vice president of communications for Golden Key, told The Times in an email.]
In the Times interview, McIntire, a former deputy communications director for one of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's campaigns, laughed a little in describing the mailer, which was sent to her mother's home in Menlo Park, but said she is "dying to know" how the phrasing got in the mail.
“What kind of got my adrenaline pumping is that I’m a feminist writer on the Internet, so getting a piece of mail that my mom is opening that says I’m a 'slut' made me think, 'Oh god, which troll of mine is doing this?' " McIntire said. "But I don’t think that’s what happened here. ... My working theory is that this is some data entry person [messing] around. I don’t think it’s aimed at me."
McIntire tweeted a picture of the mail at Bank of America's Twitter account but has not called the company seeking answers, she said. "I thought, you know what, this is better to document and get it out there -- I’ll probably get a faster response," she told The Times.
When the Lindenhurst, Ill., man received mail addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash," a call center and a company spokesperson at first doubted his claims before a local TV news affiliate aired a story about his piece of mail.
An OfficeMax executive didn't call Seay to apologize until the Los Angeles Times posted a story online about the mailer two days later.
In that incident, OfficeMax blamed the mix-up on a third-party company from which it rented a mailing list. It wasn't clear whether either company was keeping data on which of its customers had suffered tragedies or whether the mail was the result of a notation specific to Seay.
In McIntire's case, she hopes to find out what happened -- and hopes that Bank of America might take steps to prevent such mailers in the future.
“It does amaze me that there isn’t a little more of a flag for maybe certain words or phrases going up in someone’s name field," McIntire said.
[Updated, 5:45 p.m. Feb. 6: She tweeted later that a Bank of America staffer called her, apologized for the incident and told her that Bank of America does flag certain words – but that “slut” wasn’t one of them.]
Lisa McIntire, a feminist writer in San Francisco, says Bank of America tried to send her this junk mail to her mother's home in Menlo Park, Calif. It was sent as an offer connected to McIntire's membership in the Golden Key International Honour Society. (Courtesy of Lisa McIntire / February 6, 2014)
An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company's junk mail for years. But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different.
It was addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash."
Strange as that sounds, the mail reached the right guy. Seay's daughter Ashley, 17, was killed in a car crash with her boyfriend last year. OfficeMax somehow knew.
And in a world where bits of personal data are mined from customers and silently sold off and shuffled among corporations, Seay appears to be the victim of some marketing gone horribly wrong.
"I’m not a big OfficeMax customer. And I wouldn’t have gone there and said anything to anybody there about it [the car crash]. That’s not their business," Seay, 46, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview Sunday.
In a statement, OfficeMax said the mailing "is a result of a mailing list rented through a third-party provider" and offered its apologies to Seay. A spokeswoman told The Times on Sunday that the company was still gathering information about what had happened.
The company, however, had not personally called Seay to apologize, Seay told The Times, and he has been worried about the company's behavior since he and his wife received the letter Thursday.
The letter seems to be some kind of discount offering, Seay said.
Seay said that he called an OfficeMax number Friday and that a manager at a call center refused to believe he'd been sent the letter addressed that way.
Then, he said, a spokeswoman for OfficeMax "acted the same way" shortly before he was interviewed by NBC-5 reporter Nesita Kwan on Friday. (Kwan told The Times she couldn't comment until she received approval from her supervisors.) The spokeswoman was more conciliatory after she received a photo of the envelope, Seay said.
Seay, who is unemployed, said that he isn't interested in suing OfficeMax, but that since his wife was "traumatized" by the letter, he wants an apology from the company's chief executive.
He also wants to know how OfficeMax got the information. The last thing Seay remembers buying at OfficeMax since his daughter's death last February is some paper.
"Why do they have that?" Seay said of the information about his daughter's death. "What do they need that for? How she died, when she died? It’s not really personal, but looking at them, it is. That’s not something they would ever need."
The nation has recently been riveted by the debate over how Americans' personal data is gathered by government agencies, and corporate data-mining has drawn concern as well.
Retail giant Target reportedly knows how to use its data to identify pregnant customers, and it recently lost tens of millions of customers' credit and debit card information to hackers, among other data.
OfficeMax has not identified the company whose mailing list it used to send the letter to Seay.
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