Before you get mad, check your spam folder

By | March 4th, 2016

If your spam filter is turned all the way up to “10,” you need to read this. And you need to know about Al Forman.

Forman, a recent passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight, was offered a $75 “LUV Voucher” — typically, sent to passengers by email.

If their email works, that is.

In a moment, I’ll play the tape, which is amusing and interesting, because it applies to all of us, including yours truly. I have several levels of spam protection on my email and I never check the filter. After helping Forman, I’m going to start.

Let’s hit rewind. Please forgive the ALL CAPS. You’ll see why we left it in its original state in a minute:


Then the response:

Southwest Airlines: Thank you for contacting us in regard to the $75 Southwest LUV Voucher you should have received. I apologize for any frustration and appreciate the opportunity to respond.

We are so sorry you have not yet received the Southwest LUV Voucher you were promised. I have requested that your voucher be resent to the e-mail address provided. If for any reason you do not receive it within ten business days, you may want to check your junk/spam e-mail folder. If you need additional assistance, please contact us at 1-855-234-4654. We look forward to welcoming you onboard soon!

Five days later…


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Six days later …


To which he gets the following response:

Southwest Airlines: Thank you for contacting us again. I wanted to speak to you personally, and I regret that I was unable to reach you by telephone. I am happy to respond in writing so as not to delay our response any longer.

As I stated in my voicemail, I have located your voucher and re-sent it to the e-mail address provided. If for any reason you do not receive it within ten business days, you may want to check your junk/spam e-mail folder.

We appreciate your patronage, Alfred, and we look forward to seeing you onboard again soon.

A week later …


Actually, yes. The important sentence was at the very end of Southwest’s first response: “If for any reason you do not receive it within ten business days, you may want to check your junk/spam e-mail folder.”

Our advocate, Dwayne Coward, was on the case. He contacted Southwest on Forman’s behalf. Here’s what our insider told us:

It looks like we’ve re-sent his voucher (SLV) a few times to the email address in his Service Request (redacted), and the most recent voucher was sent to an alternate email address (redacted).

It’s hard to tell why he hasn’t received it, but it could be a junk mail/spam folder issue. He’s received our emails to him from our system, so we can always re-send the voucher to his email address (or mail it to him).

Interestingly, there may be another reason Southwest hadn’t considered. Forman was sending ALL UPPERCASE emails, which can be flagged as spam. It’s possible the airline wasn’t getting all of his missives, either.

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We made arrangements for him to receive his voucher. Thank you, Dwayne and Southwest, for your help.

But there’s a bigger question. If you think your company is ignoring you, it might be — but it also might not be.

For example, I use Gmail. Check out this vintage 2007 video about its advanced spam-fighting capabilities.

That’s almost a decade old. Imagine what those Google engineers have come up since then. Ah, but like any technology product, Gmail’s filters are far from perfect. And then there’s the human element. I use the tabs in Gmail, introduced in 2013, to separate legitimate emails from press releases and forum discussions.

It doesn’t always work. Sometimes a personal email ends up in the press release tab, or vice versa. It’s madness.

So that’s today’s takeaway, courtesy of Forman and Southwest. Check your spam filter. You may have a $75 LUV voucher waiting for you.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Sometimes it’s a total mystery why things get hung up in spam. I check mine every week or so and virtually every time I’ll find something from a regular contact (in my contact list, marked safe-sender, etc.) sitting there for no apparent reason. And that’s in an environment with very loose rules. (We take attachments of any type and size, etc.)

  • All caps…ugh..makes my eyes bleed (figuratively).

    I routinely inspect my spam folder. What was once OK from certain recipients may find itself later to be considered spam. Makes no sense, but it happens much more often than it should.

  • Annie M

    Were the original emails actually IN his spam folder?

  • technomage1

    In use hotmail, now outlook. My junk folder works pretty well, and I do routinely check it so even if there is a mistake, I can catch it. As far as the all caps, anyone owning a computer should realize that’s shouting and very rude. For petes sake, my 80 year old great aunt knows that.


    Sorry, just opened some Spam for dinner. Yum!

  • judyserienagy

    Well, was his voucher stuck in his spam file? Wasn’t that the point of the story?

  • AAGK

    So was the voucher actually in his spam? If so, he was pretty mean about it. All he would have to do is hit the ALL filter. Also, one would think SW could just apply a voucher to a booking without having to send anything at all.

  • Tammi Tanaka

    ADD SOME PINEAPPLE to it.. sorry, didn’t mean to scream at you.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I don’t want to drop names, but I use something that rhymes with doodle for my email. I know that it’s being scanned and I’m getting banner ads in the web interface, but it’s a small price to pay for amazing spam protection. I regularly go to the spam filter to mark false positives but it’s largely very good. It’s so good, that I think spammers have given up on me despite the fact that I have one of the oldest email addresses on the internet (going on 20 years now.)

    If you don’t want to use the web interface (you use outlook or apple email), set up IMAP and then you can mark something in spam as “good” by simply dragging it from the spam folder to the inbox.

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