Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preparing for a Wall of Shame

Every day, I receive over 1000 legitimate, business-related emails.   I've written about my email triage techniques  and the notion of handling each email only once.

Over the past few months, the number of "business spam" emails has increased significantly.   Whether its the economy, the death of paper-based advertising, or availability of bulk email newsletter creation applications in the cloud, it's getting overwhelming - about 500 unwanted, but vendor related emails per day.

Business spam is hard to filter since it represents professional communication from some of the largest technology companies on the planet.  I purchase products from many of these companies.  However, I do not want to receive any business spam from anyone.

I have never purchased a product based on business spam.   In fact, the more business spam I receive, the less likely I will purchase products from advertisers filling my inbox.

I've spent the past two weeks unsubscribing from every newsletter, every mailing list, and every advertising campaign.    It's challenging because companies send their advertising content to multiple variations of my email address - jhalamka, john.halamka, john_halamka at multiple variations of my domains, requiring me to unsubscribe more than 5 times in some cases.

Even more irritating are the unsubscribe functions that do not enable one click unsubscribe and require that type in your email address - how do I know what variation of my email address they used?

After a few weeks of unsubscribing as fast as I can, I'll post a list of those companies that are causing me to click delete so many times per day that I'm getting a repetitive stress injury.

I have never opted in to any business spam, so some of these companies have sunk to new lows with fine print such as  "we're sending you this email and unless you unsubscribe, you've opted in to our future email".   Even unsubscribing does not work because you are often opting out of a single marketing campaign and not all future communications.

The best I can do is create my own blacklist of these companies.   Coming soon, the Geekdoctor Business Spam Wall of Shame!


PaulG said...

John, you may want to check out unsubscribe.com, it helps manage all your unsubscribing, it's free, and has a number of resources that aid in the process including feedback and tracking. They have an addin button for outlook that's a great way todo it quickly so it's part of your email workflow.not sure what they have for Mac but might be worth a look. Fyi.

Anthony Guerra said...

Hi Dr. H,

I have to share my favorite “unsubscribe” frustration of all time. Have you ever gotten a message like this:

“Your request has been received and make take up to 10 business days to process”

Seriously??? 10 business days to unsubscribe from an electronic enewsletter??? Amazing.

Great piece as usual!

Anthony Guerra

Chris Howe said...

I started laughing out loud when I read this.

I had one that litterally got 15 messages from between the hours of 04:00 and 09:00. The unsubscribe function required you to have a valid account with the company. So in order to unsubcribe I had to register an account. Heck no. I e-mail PR for the company and said "Make sure it stops..."

I sincerely hope my company is not a cuplrit in this. I've checked through our database and manually removed your various domains from our list. Short challenge actually so I think we are safe. LoL

cervicalgia said...

I have had similar frustration. The worst in my experience has been Dell. When I hit the link to unsubscribe, which I have done repeatedly, I get taken to the page where I have to enter my email address (as you describe) and when I hit submit I get routed to a page that says the resource is unavailable. I have tried this on a number of occasions, using different flavors of their various marketing and partner emails, with no success. Junk mail/block sender is your friend (if you are using Outlook).

Medical Quack said...

Yes I am bombed as well and one thing we have here is proof on how much data is sold for profit today:) Everyone can sell but it's like a bit out of hand today.

I wrote a little post about an idea I had for this and that is to license and tax these data sellers and require a federal page for all to disclose who and what they sell. This would give law enforcement a leg to stand on to shut some of this off and raise some money at the same time, called it the Alternative Millionaire's Tax:) Build it like a sales tax model not income tax. With this I don't mean to include the folks like browsers that collect data for their own internal use to make the web better, just folks like Walgreens as an example who said their data selling business is valued at just under $800 million, so one wonders are prescriptions a side business to the data end of all of this:)


I have strong thoughts about this whenever I have to pay a federal excise tax when purchasing a tire for my car:)

Why should corporate USA make billions with selling taxpayer data they get for free and not give something back, and plus it add to the junk mail we get to come back around to full circle here with all of us being way over burdened.

Adrian O'Connor said...

As I work in the IT dept., I simply ban every email address I receive more than two pieces of Business Spam from.

Spam is Spam.

I also believe that any IT company that’s sends Spam, business or not is not worth dealing with. It’s such an archaic form of communication that they may as well fax me the offer. It’s baffling that after taking YOUR time to register with THEIR Company and they want to reward that effort with SPAM, I think not.

Wendy Johnson said...

Not only do I receive way too much spam in my own gmail account, but there is ANOTHER Wendy Johnson out there who doesn't seem to know her own email address, and apparently signs up for every list under the sun -- using MY gmail address. Baby Gap, Hilton, Snapfish, Crate and Barrel...you name it. As long as she isn't using my social security number as well, I guess I can just keep hitting the "unsubscribe" button and move on with my life. But oh...I'd love to get my hands on her and wring her neck! ;o)

James Siminoff said...


I started Unsubscribe.com for this very reason. It is a totally free service.

Check it out as it will help with the continued email you are going to get in your goal of purging business spam, which I am happy to save is achievable!