The internet has made me suspicious of EVERYTHING. Even with the protection of a Mac, I have still fallen victim to spam and unwanted pop-ups that prompt me to “force quit” out of my Firefox session. Now that fake online forms are designed so well, it is increasingly difficult to tell when a request for personal information is from a legitimate source or a from spammer.
Most of the unwanted email I get is from legitimate sources, but alas, they are still not emails that I welcome into my inbox with joy. Most of this junk is a result of hasty online purchases in which I blew through the checkout screen without bothering to uncheck the default “yes, please send me so-and-so offers” radio button that is usually already (cleverly) filled in. Such promotional email blasts, although not technically spam, clog up my email and my beloved BlackBerry to a point where it becomes impossible to weed through/recognize the emails that actually contain valuable information. Thus, last week I embarked on a mission to sit at my computer and unsubscribe to all the commercial drivel that plagues my inbox on a daily basis.
As if sitting there and going through my unimportant emails were not tedious enough, as I started unsubscribing to these annoying emails, NEW EMAILS from the companies I JUST unsubscribed from started popping into my inbox. Really? (channeling Amy Pohler)!! Sending me an email asking me if “I am sure I don’t want emails from you” seems a bit counterintuitive to me. If I am asking to no longer receive updates from you, I mean ALL updates, including the update confirming the receipt of my “un-subscription”. If I want proof that I unsubscribed successfully, then I’ll print out the confirmation page. Plus, there were numerous “one-click unsubscribe” links that led me to another external page where I had to enter my email address into a box and hit either “submit” or “unsubscribe” again. Hey dingbats – THAT’S MORE THAN ONE CLICK. Then there were other unsubscribe pages which thanked me for unsubscribing, but went on to say that the unsubscribe action would not come into effect for a few weeks. And then the very next day, poof, you still get emails from that company like clockwork – and you should continue getting these emails for a few weeks? Why can’t the selection of an unsubscribe button just automatically erase your email address from the master list for good? Is it really THAT complex to do? C’mon Sephora….you are messing up my inbox. By the time I get four more “special offer” emails generated from your company, I would have forgotten whether or not I unsubscribed to emails from your brand in the first place, which will then provoke me to go through the unsubscribe process again just to be sure. If I ever come across any of these “promotional email writers”, they are gonna get it! You mess up my inbox, I mess up your face.
Thinking I would receive fewer advertisement emails after all of this work, I cooperated, painstakingly played by the rules, and opted out of each site. AND THEN I STARTED GETTING SPAM. Real life spam, totally unrelated (seemingly) to the companies I had initially received alerts from. WHY ME???!! After some investigation, I discovered this site, which explained that some opt-out mechanisms are used to create profit. In this case, the unsubscribe mechanisms actually CAUSE e-mail addresses to start receiving spam. Supposedly, sites like these sell the names obtained from opt-out requests to outside parties in order generate revenue. It’s much like selling a list of mailing addresses to catalog companies like the print advertisers did back in the day.
Although you can use a program like Lashback to test and see if a site is practicing legit unsubscribe methods, there will obviously still be times when you accidentally click on something crazy and oops! There goes your email address. No matter what, it seems as if there will always be someone out there wanting to fill you in on the latest herbal enhancements on the market. I might change my email address. Now if only I can figure out how to “unsubscribe” from the physical Colorful Images catalogs I get every few weeks from the mailman. I should have never ordered those Peanuts mailing labels!!!
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