PC World, JD Sports, Woolworths, Aldi, B&Q and Arcadia Group have been named and shamed as the UK brands most likely to ‘spam’ customers with unwanted email, according to a new analysis.

The inaugural report from Spam Ratings [PDF], which analysed traffic from 100 brands over a six month period this year, paints a picture of marketing orthodoxy run amok on the back of requiring customers to ‘opt out’ of receiving emails.

The worst offender is Arcadia Group, owned by billionaire entrepreneur, Philip Green.  A customer of one of his company’s brands – Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Top Man, Wallis, Evans and Burton – would have received 394 unprompted emails over a six-month period, says the report, or about two per day.

Many others, including respected brands such as Marks & Spencer, don’t do much better, sending emails the user did not explicitly agree to receive on the back of online registration forms that ‘opt customers in unless a box is ticked.

Miss the box and customers can face a small deluge of emails which can in some cases he hard to stem. Worse still, some companies assume customers are also willing to receive emails from third-parties that have nothing to do with the original brand.

Altogether, 51 of the top 100 UK online brands failed to comply with the Direct Marketing Association’s email good practice guidelines, said the authors.

“If big brands continue to try and confuse and catch customers out with the small print on their registration forms they risk far more than they gain from adding yet another email address to their marketing database," concludes the report.

“By sending unwanted, unasked for and unexpected emails major companies are hurting their brands every day.”

On the other side of the coin, other well-known brands were rated highly by the report, including shopper’s favourite John Lewis/Waitrose, Sainsburys, Play.com, Ikea, Debenhams, Sky, and Vodafone.

The full list of offenders and responsible brands can be downloaded from the Spam Ratings website [PDF].

Spam Ratings offers a ‘spam free’ trustmark to companies willing to pay to use it.