Spam, Costly Spam


A new study by Nucleus Research says that spam costs US companies $874 per employee per year.

Other details, according to an IDG News report:

* Companies lose approximately 1.4 percent of each employee's productivity each year due to spam.

* The average employee receives 13.3 spam messages each day.

* Employees spend, on average, 6.5 minutes per day managing spam.

The actual report, online here, doesn't factor in time wasted reading stories about spam, an activity that must jack the total cost of spam up by a nickel or two.

The report also suggests that legal fixes will prove more effective over the long haul than technological ones. Given that we'll have to pry the "send" keys from the cold dead hands of the penis-enlargement and MILF hucksters, that seems pretty unlikely.

NEXT: Lost In the Flood

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  1. Well, maybe a tort action can be created to deal with unwanted spam.

  2. 13.3 messages a day, 6.5 minutes a day “managing” them… that comes to 30 seconds per message.

    No way. I probably spend 6.5 SECONDS per day managing my 13 spam emails each day. The network administrator probably spends 6.5 minutes per month managing the spam for the entire mail server.

    These IT consulting reports always exaggerate the size of problems because they’re trying to sell something. The latest IT fad.

    Spam is an irritant, but I think any administrator with half a brain already knows how to manage it well enough without a whole lot of effort.

  3. Well of course the government should do something about it.

  4. … for the children…..

  5. why not just crate another DNC (that’s do-not-call 🙂 registry!

  6. 6.5 minutes sounds about right for me. It may take “6.5 seconds” to deal with them, sorting them out from the legit mail takes the rest of the time.

  7. 6.5 minuts is little time compared to the amount of time most workers spend doing nothing, or asking themselves why they don’t quit.

  8. I have been on the internet for 6 + years using a variety of major ISPs and never received any spam.

    After moving recently, we decided to try out MSN and before we even had a chance to get on the net, my wife?s email box is stuffed with nothing but spam and most of it offensive in nature.

    And Bill Gates wrote some piece in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago supporting government intervention. That doesn?t smell right.

  9. I get 0 spam from external sources to my work address. We have our Exchange server pretty locked down.

    However, I get about 10 corporate “announcements” a day from various departments (including the cafeteria menus) that I would consider spam. I guess we should make some legislation to end that, as well.

  10. Brady:

    I have a folder in my mail client labelled “SPAM” where just these sort of announcements are routed. Maybe I’m helping to throw off the spamtimates coming out of my IT dept.

  11. I spend twice that going to the bathroom 3 or 4 times in a day. If I’m typical, then that means nearly 3% of the productivity of the entire workforce of the united states is lost each year because employers won’t supply employess with adult diapers.


    you will spend 10 seconds a day managing your spam

    the market works…

  13. In academic economics workshops, there is a
    specification test that is variously called
    the “smell test” or the “laugh test”. As
    noted by the earlier poster, these estimates
    do not pass it. They are just way, way too
    high. $874 per month is about $10K per year,
    which is about 20 percent of average earnings.
    I don’t think so.

    I don’t know how some consultants sleep at
    night. I really don’t.

    Maybe they sleep with trial lawyers.


  14. Spam doesn’t bother me much… I have a Hotmail account and I’m not careful about putting my address out there. But I make sure everything that’s not from an address on my “contacts” or “safe” list gets thrown into a junk folder. Every day I sort through that folder and retrieve the rare desired email from someonel not on one of my lists. Takes about 30 seconds a day. Works very well.

    Maybe other people have some sort of peculiar problems that I don’t have? Maybe they recieve lots of email they’d like to read from people they don’t know? Maybe they’re technologically retarded?
    Andy D.

  15. Or maybe some people find most of the spam highly offensive.

  16. Rob:

    I even stepped it up a notch from there, I’ve set up rules to auto reply to some of the emails telling the sender “Thank you for the valuable information.”

  17. This completely misses the point about SPAM. It isn’t the inconvenience to the end user, it’s the bandwidth. SPAM chews up a large percentage of the data that flies around the internet, therefore driving up the cost for everybody.

    Anything the gubmint does can only make the situation worse. I favor shifting the cost of email to the originator. If it cost a mere dollar to send a thousand emails, the SPAM problem would wither to insignificance.

  18. Warren:

    Who do you propose would begin making this regulation that sending an email costs money? Would it start going through USPS? I hope to hell not.

    Then what, we have to start paying to be members of mailing lists since the host can’t afford to send them out any more for free?

    Sheesh, one of the largest benefits of email is that it is free.

  19. I mentioned my recent problem with MSN and how much more spam I got with them than with anyone else.

    Net result; my MSN account was only open 6 days. Now I have a new ISP. If I have a similar spam problem, ditto, I’m on to another ISP.

    I don’t even know exactly the spammers get their lists but I know I’ve had no spam with most ISPs and alot with others. When we start demanding more from our providers, they (the providers)will do something about it.

  20. Bandwidth? Really? This sounds fishy to me. I probably use more bandwidth during a couple hours on Kazaa than I have used in my whole email life. I doubt that junk email takes up enough bandwidth to have much affect.

    And in any case, the internet is faster than it’s ever been and shows no sign of slowing down that I can see.

    Andy D.

  21. “6.5 minutes sounds about right for me. It may take ‘6.5 seconds’ to deal with them, sorting them out from the legit mail takes the rest of the time.”

    How in the world can it take you 6.5 minutes to “sort out” 13 spams? When I check my email, the procedure goes something like “DEL, DEL, DEL, DEL, DEL, DEL, DEL, … DEL, DEL, DEL, … legitimate, read in a moment, arrow down, DEL, DEL, DEL”.

  22. Sandy,

    Interesting, informative stuff. I concede the point… you’re probably correct that Spam causes a bandwidth problem. I don’t understand your “spammer pays” idea… whom do they pay? In any case, it does seem like some ISPs effecitvely fight Spam, and this implies to me that other market solutions are possible.

    I wonder though, even without any legislation, does Spam have a future? As everyone becomes Spam-savvy, and as filtering ISPs or software become more effective, and as *everyone* becomes deaf to Spam’s entreaties… will Spamming still make sense?

  23. Andy D.,

    Well, I’m glad the Internet is faster for you. However, you’re ignoring the battle being fought ferociously behind the scenes in order to keep it being faster. That’s like saying, “I’ve never seen a plane crash, and I’ve been a passenger for 5 or 6 years, so there can’t be any real difficulties in flying–anybody can do it.”

    The Internet should be much faster than it is. The telecoms put in a LOT of fiber to increase bandwidth dramatically. However, spam is taking up an incredible amount of that bandwidth. Because your ISP works hard to filter spam before it gets to you, spammers, having no costs to pay to send spam, are simply flooding the Internet with more and more addresses, some real, many just “guessed,” in the hopes that some will get through. They don’t bear the costs for this, but I assure you you are paying for it.

    The idea of being “pro-business” and sticking your head in the sand about spam is one of the lamest things I’ve seen out of libertarian circles. Denying the problem doesn’t make it go away. Market solutions have been proposed–make the sender pay. If you don’t like it, come up with a better one, but don’t say “nyah nyah, I can’t see it,” and hope that it won’t happen to you.

  24. Sandy:

    Spam is a business problem, not a legal one. If players in the industry want to start charging for email voluntarily, that is their decision. The government charging people “e-stamps” for email is NOT the solution.

    Do I have another proposition to offer? No, but I don’t ask you to solve my business problems either.

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