NYT home delivery cancellation email ‘appears to be spam’ (UPDATE: It wasn’t)

Statement from New York Times corporate communications (3:35 p.m. ET):

An email was sent earlier today from The New York Times in error. This email should have been sent to a very small number of subscribers, but instead was sent to a vast distribution list made up of people who had previously provided their email address to The New York Times. We regret this error and we regret our earlier communication noting that this email was SPAM.

* The email was supposed to go to about 300 people, but went to over 8 million

Follow-up email to readers

From: The New York Times
Subject: CORRECTION: Important information regarding your subscription
Date: Dec 28, 2011 3:17 PM

Dear New York Times Reader,

You may have received an e-mail today from The New York Times with the subject line “Important information regarding your subscription.”

This e-mail was sent by us in error. Please disregard the message. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.


The New York Times


Reader Jeff Prescott sends this email:

Major New York Times snafu!

I don’t know how many subscribers were told they requested their home delivery subscriptions to be cancelled…but it seems to be many..

i just spoke with exasperated phone operator….

Not sure if it is computer problem or hack!!

I also received the email this morning and figured it was a glitch because I stopped home delivery about a year ago in favor of a digital subscription. I’ve called the Times for an explanation and will post it when it arrives.

UPDATE: “It appears to be spam,” tweets Timesman Robert Christie.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s what the Times has told employees:

Date: Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 2:05 PM
Subject: Regarding spam note about New York Times subscription

Dear Colleague,

Please be aware that a spam message was sent broadly today with the subject line “Important information regarding your subscription.” This e-mail was not sent from The New York Times. If you received it, please delete it. We will be alerting subscribers immediately.

Corporate IT


the strange thing is their claim that this was spam. the sending/return email address certainly looked legitimate. seems like the more plausible explanation is either A) a mistake by an employee in the circulation department or B) an in-house attempt at mischief-making by one of the disgruntled employees who signed the angry Robinson manifesto the other day.

Steve Yelvington tweets: “Read the email headers. SPF certifies NYT arpproval. IP address belongs to Epsilon, an email firm that was hacked last spring.”

Here’s the spam message:

From: The New York Times
Subject: Important information regarding your subscription
Date: Dec 28, 2011 12:03 PM

Dear Home Delivery Subscriber,

Our records indicate that you recently requested to cancel your home delivery subscription. Please keep in mind when your delivery service ends, you will no longer have unlimited access to NYTimes.com and our NYTimes apps.

We do hope you’ll reconsider.

As a valued Times reader we invite you to continue your current subscription at an exclusive rate of 50% off for 16 weeks. This is a limited-time offer and will no longer be valid once your current subscription ends.*

Continue your subscription and you’ll keep your free, unlimited digital access, a benefit available only for our home delivery subscribers. You’ll receive unlimited access to NYTimes.com on any device, full access to our smartphone and iPad® apps, plus you can now share your unlimited access with a family member.†

To continue your subscription call 1-877-698-0025 and mention code 38H9H (Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. E.D.T.).



  1. Chucolo said:

    Got the same message in Colorado. Sounds like a major hack although I’d sure like the 50 percent discount……(especially since NYT is raising rates in 2012).

  2. Dan Mitchell said:

    Assuming the phone number is legit – that it goes to the Times’ customer service line – I’m not sure how it’s spam.

    The email headers are precisely the same as the ones on earlier, legit emails from the Times. All originate from the same IP address – owned by Bigfoot Interactive. My guess for now is that it’s a glitch. But it’s a weird one.

  3. Dan Mitchell said:

    Well, yes, but the IP info is still for Bigfoot.

    But now that I look, I’m not seeing any references to the phone number other than in regards to this incident – so a hack/phishing scheme perhaps, and a pretty sophisticated one.

  4. Dan Mitchell said:

    Ah, if you go through this page, you’ll see that the number has been reported in the past as belonging to telemarketing scammers – weight loss, fake charities, mortgage spam, etc.


  5. Dan Mitchell said:

    Whoops. Disregard last message, that page is for a bunch of different 877-698 numbers. But the number in this email isn’t for NYT customer service.