I Didn't Sign Up For This
January 3, 2014

I Didn’t Sign Up For This – Or A Lot Of Other Email Blasts

Throughout last month I received a number of requests via email asking me to make a donation to a specific advocacy group. It doesn’t feel right for me to call them out, but I will add that I never opted in for the mailing list.

I actually support their particular efforts to a point. Still, I didn’t sign up for any mailing group and I really don’t appreciate being hounded throughout the month of December to donate. In this particular case, I had spoken to the group for a story I wrote, so it is all the more shocking that they would add a member of the media to their donation solicitation list.

However, now that the holidays are over I’ll probably get email blasts from the company that sells ties, the coat store and others. That’s because I made an online purchase. I don’t recall ever – this year or any year previous – opting in for a mailing list. For the record, I’ve actually been careful to look to see if there is a way to opt out.

The Can Spam Act was supposed to spare us from this sort of thing, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I’ve actually relied on my Gmail account when making purchases, so that I can send future “sales” pitches or other unwanted emails to the spam folder. That works to a point, but once you’re on the list chances are it gets sold and I still end up with spam.

Spam is part of daily life in our digital world, and I can accept that to a point. Where the line was crossed is that every query I make on a website seems to put me on a list.

It almost amazes me that these companies would still spend so much time and effort to send out the emails, given that most of us today don’t believe every email we get – or at least shouldn’t. Seriously, how am I to trust any email when there are so many spoof websites and phishing scams. If I get an email about a super sale at Amazon I don’t click the link I go to the site to check it out.

Now the key to this is that I said “it almost amazes me,” but the truth is that it doesn’t amaze me in the least. It is super easy for any group to automatically put people on a list. It is easy enough to write a single email asking for donations or hyping a sale on ties and send it to everyone in the database. That is actually super cheap.

This is, of course, the same formula that is used by spammers, scammers and phishers. It is actually effective to a point.

Where the line is absolutely crossed is when the legitimate groups send repeated emails. The advocacy group I noted didn’t contact me once, but rather three times this month. I didn’t sign up for this; actually I didn’t sign up for any of it.

The final part of this is that the legitimate groups that actually allow you to opt out now ask you to “tell us why you no longer wish to receive our emails.” One word says it all: annoying.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on Forbes.com, Inc.com, Cnet.com, and Fortune.com. Peter is a regular writer for redOrbit.com.

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