One of my pet peeves is spam. No, not the garden-variety crap that gets filtered out by any halfway-decent mail filter. No, I get the most cheesed off by what used to be called “mainsleaze” — people who, for example, have these big old mailing lists that they buy or trade for and then send out messages welcoming all their new members.
Oh, they’re very nice and thoughtful — they include an opt-out link, so they are in full compliance with the disgusting CAN-SPAM Act the marketing scumbags conned Congress into passing. These people can’t imagine how anyone would not want their valued messages, so they don’t bother with the “confirmed opt-in” model. You know the type — “your e-mail address has been submitted to our list. Click here to confirm that you are interested, and you will continue to get our messages. Otherwise, do nothing and you will automatically be removed.”
Or maybe you don’t. It’s damned few that act responsibly. Most of them are more interested in keeping as many e-mail addresses on their list as they can, so they make the default that you stay on. Only those who are willing to jump through the hoops get taken off their list — keeping that number nice and high to show to their advertisers.
And, of course, since none of them clicked here and here and here and here to opt out, they’re all “confirmed” subscribers, which is even better.
The latest mainsleazer to dump its deuce in my e-mail box is Women’s eNews. From my breathless welcome:
Thank you for being a registered member / subscriber at Women’s eNews, the
definitive source for news about and for women. We are so delighted you have
joined our growing global membership!
As you may have noticed, we have revamped our site. We hope you enjoy our new
site and features!
Well, it turns out that their site has a contact page, with e-mails and a phone number. I was feeling a but suitably cranky, so I got in touch with my inner George Carlin and gave ’em a ring:
“Hi, I never heard of you folks before, but apparently I’ve been signed up as a member of your mailing list. Could you answer a few questions for me?”
“I’ll be glad to help you, sir!”
“Will my membership help me get laid?”
It went downhill from there.
In the end, I didn’t give her my e-mail address. My reasoning was simple: they already had it, so why do they need it again? Further, one time I actually did trust a spammer and gave them my e-mail address, I got signed up for about 37 more spam lists — and my phone number (curse you, caller ID) was put on flyers around Maryland inviting people to call and learn how to get paid for watching TV.
Yeah, it would be easy to just hit delete, or hit unsubscribe. But I’m a stubborn cuss. If they don’t like how I deal with spammers, they shouldn’t spam me in the first place. If I’m rude on the phone, then perhaps they’ll regret sending me that e-mail that initiated the dialogue. If you start enough fires at the base of the tree, sooner or later you’ll smoke out the rodents at the top.
Plus, it’s fun.