Monster threaten legal action and ask me to blame someone else!

I was going to hold off on blogging this but since Damien has already mentioned it I thought I’d add my experience.

I received two emails directly from Monster’s Business Development Manager John Burns today. In the emails John said

i want you to delete my name from your blog that is open to the public….

He went on to add

You are putting my name at risk and my character on your blog, remove it ASAP or i will proceed with the legal advice i was given.

You have already damaged my name and caused great embarresment to me.

Please take this very seriously.

John Burns
Business Development Manager

I received several other emails from John where he tried to recall the spam he sent out yesterday but as Michele noted, that only works with Microsoft Exchange within an organisation.

To make matters even worse, incredibly, in the recall efforts John once again exposed everyone’s email addresses by not using the bcc field.

The real kicker for me though was when John left me a voicemail on the one hand threatening me with legal action, and then on the other hand asking me to

take down what you have put up about me, remove my name and replace it with somebody else’s immediately… I will definitely be taking this forward

Remove his name and replace it with somebody else’s? Just who’s name would John have me use instead?

I’m sorry but does this guy have no sense of responsibility for his actions at all. Not once, at any point did he apologise for spamming me, not once did he apologise for harvesting the data from the it@cork members’ directory and then he asks me to put someone else in the frame while he threatens me with legal action? Unbelievable.

I’m sure John is a nice guy but if he had only put his hands up, accepted he was wrong and asked how he could right what he had done, this would never have become the growing embarrassment it is to Monster’s already poor reputation.

UPDATE – Daithi has created an hilarious re-mix of the voicemail – check it out

50 thoughts on “Monster threaten legal action and ask me to blame someone else!”

  1. Where do people like him get off? Bully tactics.. then blame someone else. Thats sad, people like that need wing mirrors on their monitors

  2. Shocking stuff indeed… it’s interesting that he doesn’t want his name to be made public yet has released the names and emails of a hundred-odd people without their consent.

    Interesting also about that 3000 euro fine that can be imposed on spammers in Ireland. I wonder what the value of the PR damage is to Monster…

  3. how emails many were not Bcc’ed ?
    this happened to a candidate in the IIA netvis podcasting section last week. the Total was 938 emails on the To: line.
    followed by an email apology that asked for the first email to be deleted.

    people should realize that over 50 Bcc CC or To: emails should consider a broadcast mailing list. this is 2007 not 1995!

  4. Tell him to shag off out of it, the muppet sent me the email yesterday and the recall today with everyone again exposed.
    Too busy to talk much about it but Monster, no thanks

  5. Dear John Burns,

    You probably don’t read my blog, follow my twitter, read my Facebook profile updates, or basically, talk to anyone I know. That is of course, aside from the few people in Ireland. So, please be aware that not only have you shamed yourself within the Irish community, some of the most senior and best connected people in the UK are now aware of your sill situation. In fact, I personally asked the publisher of ‘…. for Dummies’ to send you a signed copy of ‘Digital Marketing for Dummies’. Really, I did. Check it out if you don’t believe me

    If you were working for me, your arse wouldn’t have touched the ground on your way out (the window) – not for making the original mistake as that’s forgivable, but for your stupidity ever since.

  6. Wow. Well, while I’m not on your side of the pond, I won’t be using over here anymore either. If that sort of behavior (spamming) is considered acceptable by anybody in the organization, then they really don’t have any sort of training methods that work, I’d say.

    Rather sad, really.

  7. You have already damaged my name and caused great embarresment to me.

    What’s embarrassing is your speeling 😉

  8. I feel a bit sorry for the guy. He screwed up sending the mails but the reality is that not everyone is tech savy and understands/appreciates the difference between to/cc/bcc, and also appreciates what is/not considered spam

    There are data protection issues alright, but they are not understood by the layman. Also, the generally accepted etiquette in the blogosphere wouldn’t be understood by those outside it.

  9. @John Ward: That might well be the case, but if he had simply apologised, put his hands up in the air and said he was wrong, we wouldn’t be posting here now.

    Instead he went on the defensive and started threatening legal action.


  10. Hi Tom,
    Just popped over from Damien’s to see what all the fuss was about.I thought it was a spoof at first.

    Time to put on me Monster hunting wellies.

  11. I’m with John Ward on this one. This guy did wrong (knowingly or not) but he’s probably just your average joe trying to do his job. At the end of the day this type of negative publicity is going to cause him a lot more personal pain then it will his employer. The focus should be on Monster, not the individual.

  12. Personal pain is good.

    I recently received a death-threat from a chewing-gum company, and I had to inflict a fair amount of personal pain on the sender.

  13. @Niall it seems that the blogosphere has become judge, jury and executioner in this case. Putting the guys voicemail into the public domain was over the top. What about data protection? everyone is entitled to it.

  14. I think the guy was stupid to threaten legal action, in doing so he failed to put his hands up and admit he was wrong.
    However, I’m relatively new to blogging, and was unaware of any rules R.E. etiquette.
    Obviously I’m not going to publish peoples contact details without their permission, and equally obviously, libel laws apply just as stringently in electronic media as anywhere else…………but I’m getting a bit scared !

  15. @John Ward: “What about data protection?”. Exactly! He sent out an email with all the address’s in the CC field.

    He might be an ordinary Joe Soap who doesn’t have a clue about email, but instead of trying to learn from his mistake, he went on the defensive. A simple apology would have nipped all this in the bud!

    I’m not sure if I agree with putting up the voicemail, however it did make for a good laugh.

  16. John Ward and Adrian – Niall is absolutely correct. If John had apologised or simply accepted responsibility for his actions none of this would have happened.

    Instead, he went on the attack, all guns blazing so he can hardly complain now that we fired back.

    As for publishing the voicemail, how is publishing the voicemail different from publishing his emails? They are both simply electronic communications.

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  18. Tom,
    You’ve raised a good point. I would suspect there is no difference legally between email and voicemail. I had already felt a tad sorry for him and I empathised further when I heard the voicemail as opposed to just reading his words. That is why I mentioned it.

    Personally, I think you should report him and let the law take its course. However, by publishing the material its probable that you have also violated the act.


  19. John – publishing a voicemail left on my phone or extracts of an email John sent me in no way breaches the Data Protection Acts.

    Had I published an entire email, there is an outside chance of being in breach of copyright, but there is no data protection implications there.

  20. He broke the law first by SPAMING. The fine is per spam message – not a flat rate.

    I don’t think that there’s any problems putting up the recording – he knew it was being recorded since it was preceeded with a leave a message after the beep message (and then a beep)

    He messed up, but he should have learned when to stop digging.

    For the apparent lack of an official reply from Monster (who I’m sure won’t be worried about how John Burns comes out of this) I’d guess that they haven’t heard about it….yet.

  21. it seems to be a confusion on his part, and many peoples’ part about blogging about what should be blogged about, something happened that morning and then that evening a blog post is up about it! his first mail to chris? didn’t seem too attacking, so maybe it needn’t have been blogged about or his name specified at that point?… although I think the confusion he had was that he shouldn’t be blogged about like that, but you were blogging about as Monster’s Business Development Manager (John Burns) not him personally.

  22. reading the other blogs it seems a number of Cork IT heads rang him that first day and he wasn’t very amenable…so maybe it was blog worthy, Business Development Manager sheesh!

  23. I originally picked up on this story from digg and followed it to It really seems like a massive over reaction from a group of cliquey, smug bloggers who have little else to worry about.

    The short story is that some newbie at Monster sent out a bunch of emails trying to impress his boss. When tackled by Michele Neylon about this he became a bit embarrassed, flustered and defensive, probably hoping the ‘issue’ would go away.

    Essentially he made a mistake and then became defensive about it – who can honestly say they have never done that?

    Plus we aren’t privy to the contents of the telephone conversation between John Burns and Michele which led to the later blog entry. Undoubtedly M was really nice to him on the phone and not at all antagonistic but he just refused to apologize. I mean that’s how these type of phone conversations usually pan out, right?

    Congratulations to Michele and Tom for humiliating this guy and possibly costing him his job. I’d recommend using a better spam filter and/or learning to use the delete button when it comes to your email.

    I’ve nothing to do with the guy btw, I just caught it on digg and after listening to his voicemail got annoyed enough leave this comment. Hmmm, misdirected outrage and too much time on my hands, maybe I should start a blog too?

  24. Seems a bit harsh on the guy, surely could have been sorted out behind the scences. He clearly did wrong and though left a silly voice message it smacks of the smug tech savvie brigade having their fun without thinking of the consequences.

    Just my tuppenceworth but good blog all the same.

  25. flattea – we attempted to resolve it behind the scenes. John was contacted directly by it@cork and was completely unrepentant. He neither apologised for his actions nor did he say he wouldn’t do it again.

  26. Story is…
    1) silly person who is new to job makes mistake
    2) silly person doesn’t acknowledge mistake and apologise
    3) people who were stewards of the mailing list publish their side of the issue
    4) things go a little silly as silly person compounds mistake by digging in heels and making threats of legal action to people who know the legal situation better than the silly person.
    5) Silly Person’s boss eventually gets involved, points out silly person did a silly thing that the company had said not to do, apologises and trys to make things better.

    Moral of the story is that the cover up is what gets you not the crime (hello Nixon). Also, taking other people’s mailing lists and pasting them into outlook is NOT clever, smart or grown up… it is ILLEGAL and UNETHICAL. Finally, wise bosses know that people make mistakes but would much rather they follow the usage policies and guidelines that they’ve had written up so that everyone (silly person, wise boss and data subject) are protected.

    My personal hope is that Mr Burns is NOT fired… he was new, naive and made a stooooopid error of judgement. I do hope his story becomes part of the corporate culture in Monster (“did you get that mailing list from a legit source? It’s important – remember what happened to Burnsy back in 2007. He was left looking like a twit on the Internet and had to be bailed out…”).

    As for Pedro… anonymity on the Internet is a relative myth..

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