There was a short period in the late 90s and early 00s when I would use “disposable” email addresses for everything. I had “catch-all” email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org which I would when signing up for a site where I was unsure of their email practices. If I signed up on “this-domain.com” my email would be “email@example.com” and I could track which services were selling my email without my knowledge or not.
The concept here is if the vendor started to spam me, or sold my name, I could block the individual email and continue on my merry way.
Unfortunately, this practice slowly died away as catch-all email addresses led to a profuse amount of spam, spam filters improved, and I just got plain lazy.
That, and with the advent of improved education for site owners, and better email practices with CAN-SPAM, consumer confidence in giving away our email has gone up, and unwanted spam has gone down from legitimate providers.
I have created this blog post because even in 2009, some people still don’t get it. Here’s the tricks that I’ve seen that make my blood boil:
MULTILIST: The multiple list unsubscribe bait and switch
You sign up, and they make that vaunted claim, “We’ll only email you occasionally … you can always unsubscribe.” You find out later that you have to unsubscribe on a “list by list” basis. Grrr.
Listen, folks. You sign up, give away your precious email address. I receive a message I don’t want, realize I want to unsubscribe, and do so. If I receive another message, you are spamming me. I don’t care if you have a “main list”, a “news list”, and a “just to be a pain in the ass” list. I have one email, don’t send it to me.
DINOSAUR: “Reply to this email with an unsubscribe subject” dinosaur
The web is more than ten years old. Folks who can’t afford a web site, or can’t afford one of the multiple free or low-cost mailing software that allows for a link to unsubscribe are just plain irresponsible. Like most commercial email services, I want to be able to click a link, and be done with it.
Worse are the ones that provide a link, then ask for an email address. Come on; modern email management solutions have been around for years, and I have to remember which email address I used to sign up?
Like many people, I have multiple email addresses, but all roads lead to Rome. The second I have to work to get off of your list, the resentment grows.
DELAY: Having to wait more than 10 days to opt-out
In the age of instant information, instant gratification, who is waiting up to 10 days to get off of an email list? This is ridiculous. I opt-out, I want to be off maximum 24 hours from now. How is it not possible to support near-instant opt-out of a list?
What business has an email propagation strategy that takes ten days to propagate? DNS, which covers the entire internet, if run correctly, can be nearly instantanous, and it takes you 10 days to remove an email address?
LAME: No unsubscribe option, at all
I have seen this at least a few times in the past year. Not sure how I got on there, it appears legitimate (I have vague memories of buying something from that vendor), but there’s no way to unsubscribe at all. The second I see that, you are marked as spam, goodbye.
BRICK: Unsubscribe requests hit the brick wall
This is for those companies which “appear” (heavy quotes there) reputable, as in, they are public, or they pay for marketing on subways or on billboards along the highway. You’d think they’d have a decent email and spam policy. Well, sad to say, they don’t.
Unsubscribe requests hit the brick wall, and never penetrate the inner organs of the organization, and you will continue to receive email from them, even after you are dead.
Consider this list in no way as a commentary on what these sites provide. Simply consider that they have annoyed me with their poor email practices:
- Monster.com (LAME, BRICK: 4 unsubscribes so far)
- Live Strong foundation (MULTILIST: 3 unsubscribes so far)
- Verizon Member Services (DELAY: 10 days)
Add yours below as a comment. If you have any complaints about an email vendor, add them as a comment and I’ll add them to my list above.