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Innovation

Spam filter swallows contractor's email, district winds up paying$250K more

Cobb County School District's spam filter intercepted important questions from a contractor who would have been low bidder on phone service by $250,000.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor on

In another example of overreliance on email, a Cobb County School District spam filter thwarted the district's chance to save $250,000 a year in telephone service by filtering communications with a bidder, reports eSchoolNews.

The district's spam filter sucked up legitimate email from a telephone vendor, which should serve as a warning to administrators and educators as to the unreliability of spam filters.

Mike Russell, president of Elite Telecom Services and representative to the district for the telecom provider ITC Deltacom, responded to the district's call for proposals by sending and email with some important information about his bid. Probably because the e-mail contained references to 'long-distance", the filter captured it as spam.

As it turns out, BellSouth Corp. won the service for $670,000 for five years, about $250,000 higher than Elite Telecom Services' bid would have been. The district uses hard copy for bidding but questions and follow-up are via email.

"A simple phone call [from Russell] would have clarified everything," a district spokesman said.

So, that's a lesson to contractors, too. If you don't get a response to email, you might want to pick up the phone.

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