Pizza Hut Forces You To Opt-In To Spam Marketing When Ordering Online

When you place an order on Pizza Hut’s website, you have to create an account, and to create an account, you have to check the box that says you agree to their privacy policy and terms of use. It also says, “I agree to receive information about Pizza Hut®/WingStreet® couons, promotions, announcements, events and specials.” This e-commerce blogger is amazed that Pizza Hut would resort to such a sneaky tactic, which ultimately ruins the customer experience and probably costs them online orders.

Here are the two biggest problems Tim sees with Pizza Hut’s “no choice” strategy:

First, it completely eliminated all of the value mentioned above that could have been created by an online order. Since we called in [and abandoned our online order], conversion costs increased, Pizza Hut will never have the opportunity to add our email address to their marketing lists (via a check or a non-uncheck), they will never have the chance to up sell or cross sell to us in an automated fashion, they have completely obliterated any loyalty we had and they provided an utterly terrible customer experience. Moreover, their customer retention and market share numbers just dwindled by a body count of two (my friend and I).

Second, the strategy that Pizza Hut is utilizing makes me wonder if most users don’t notice what they’re getting themselves into and if this is what Pizza Hut is shooting for. Well known practice in eCommerce is to force a customer to agree to a sites general terms of use in order to transact on that site. Sometimes, at the same time a user is agreeing to the Terms of Use, a second, optional, opportunity is provided that allows the the customer to opt-in to advertising. If only one option is given, it is by and large a Terms of Use agreement. Therefore, if a customer only sees one option, and doesn’t read the details, they assume that they are agreeing to a sites Terms of Use, and that no option to opt-in to advertising exists, let alone that they are opting in if they agree to the Terms of Use.

Despite the “no choice” opt-in trick, it’s fairly easy to get yourself off their spam marketing list after you’ve registered. Here’s what their Privacy Policy has to say about it—note the comical way they make it sound like users had a choice to begin with, when they obviously didn’t:

For those who initially opted-in to receive future offers or promotional materials or to allow the sharing of Personal Information with third parties may subsequently opt-out as follows:

For email communications: (a) send an e-mail to webmaster@pizzahut.com or (b) if you are a registered user, deselect the option on your accounts profile page under “My Account” on Our website;

For text message communications, (a) send an email to webmaster@pizzahut.com and include the appropriate mobile telephone number(s), (b) send a “STOP” text message to “749488″ or (c) if you are a registered user, deselect the option on your accounts profile page under “My Account” on Our website.

Or do what Tim did—don’t bother ordering from Pizza Hut online, and in fact order your pizza from a competing restaurant until Pizza Hut decides to stop forcing its marketing on online customers.

“That’s Freaking Spam-tastic: PizzaHut.com Requires Customers to Opt-In to Advertising When Ordering Online” [PlumberSurplus]

Comments

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  1. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    We have more pizza delivery than we know what to do with around here. We have not set foot in or ordered from a Pizza Hut in ten years. This is one reason why it may well be another ten years.

  2. Buran says:

    How is it forcing it on you if you can opt-out?

    I want MORE places to offer online ordering as it’s a hassle for me, as I’m hard of hearing. What’s taking so long?

  3. Echodork says:

    Who gives their real email address to pizza parlors? Don’t we all have a throwaway yahoo mail account for this kind of inevitable spam?

  4. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    Thats too bad… sneaky too. The average person would just click the check box and not even read the rest.

    If you guys like dominos try ordering from them. Their new pizza tracker thing is a gimmick but its kinda cool, at least I think. The only problem I’ve had with them is my local stores DSL line being out for a couple of months. I just didn’t order pizza then because their phone etiquite sucks. That and you cant get through to them without being put on hold.

  5. arsbadmojo says:

    So their web site sucks even worse than their pizza?? That’s *really* hard to imagine.

  6. Buran says:

    Update: I don’t see anywhere to opt out of this, but I’ve had this account for a while. I didn’t have to opt into spam when I signed up that I can recall. Or is it regional? I’m in St. Louis — but when visiting the bf in FL I can make orders to be sent to his house from the same account/website, so I doubt it’s regional.

    My other choice for ordering pizza without having to make a phone call is Dominos, and Dominos tastes awful. My Pizza Hut usually does a pretty good job — like any chain restaurant, if you go to a place that has decent staff, the food will be good, if they are lazy you won’t like it.

    Now what’d make me really happy would be if the local Italian places could set up online ordering, and the local Chinese places.

  7. xip says:

    I have used my real email address for ordering Papa John’s pizza online, and I haven’t had any problems. So, they’re not all like that… just Pizza Hut. And screw them anyway… their pizza is too greasy for my taste.

  8. krose says:

    Is this a new thing? I have ordered pizza online from Pizza Hut and have never received an email from them besides the ones that confirm your order.

  9. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Echodork: It’s not that it’s a trivial issue that we can work around. It’s that Pizza Hut is not trustworthy in small things, so how can we expect them to be trustworthy in large things (like food safety and quality)?

  10. ChuckECheese says:

    @Buran: It’s forcing spam upon you because you can only opt-out AFTER you’ve been forced to opt-in (at the time of initial registration).

    Yahoo! sends all my Pizza Hut nonsense directly to my spam box.

    Pizza Hut further antagonizes online customers by having unstated arbitrary online order minimums in some locales ($15 one place I was, $25 at another); and some locations will make you show them a paper copy of any discounts or coupons you use, even if you obtained the discount online. They don’t make e-pizza e-asy.

    For all you small-world pizza snobs out there, some of us in the hinterlands don’t have access to pizza seasoned with the sweat of an eyetalian brow. On the other hand, we have Pizza Patron, and ellos acceptan pesos.

  11. chrisjames says:

    This kind of treatment says more about the people signing up for services like this than the company itself. Pizza Hut and the like have all weighed the net gains of keeping customers happy by not pestering them with unwanted email versus those of ad-based sales and exposure. If they found out that pestering makes more money statistically, then we need to instead be inoculating people against advertisement, not barking about yet another company that’s just doing the math.

  12. Sherryness says:

    This is timely – I just ordered pizza online today from Papa John’s and they had 3 different prices for their 20 oz Coke products depending where on the site you looked. At the top under “Special” it said, “2 20 oz Coke products for $2.39.” Then down in the bevereage section it said that two 20 oz Coke products cost $2.18. After placing my order but before checkout, it asked if I would like to order any 20 oz Coke products – for $1.49 each. Crazy. (I didn’t order any Coke, though – I was good and drank water with my junk food lunch.)

  13. PinkBox says:

    Pizza Hut is pretty nasty anyway… I’d say they’re doing you a favor if you decide to try another pizza restaurant that allows you to order online.

  14. greensmurf says:

    I am just waiting for the day you can order Taco Bell and have it delivered!!!

  15. Moosehawk says:

    It’s really not that annoying. They send you something maybe once every two weeks I’ve noticed, and I don’t really mind the heads up on their new deals.

  16. Michael Belisle says:

    I signed up for email offers with Papa Johns. I was horribly disappointed that all of the offers I received sucked. Something like “Buy a large pizza at regular price, get a free 20-oz soda”. Great. Menu price is way more than 99¢ overpriced.

    Also, this is what “pizzahut@example.com” email addresses are for. You can always block it, filter it, or throw it in the trash.

  17. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @greensmurf: Just by chance I live where I can have Mexican food delivered. Also pizza, full Italian dinner, fried chicken, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, hamburgers, Lebanese, sub sandwiches, hot wings, steak dinners, sushi, and desserts. It’s kind of embarrassing in a way.

  18. theblackdog says:

    @Michael Belisle: Their offers used to be really good, usually there was a buy one get one free offer that would come through once a month.

    Now I’ve gone back to making my own pizza.

  19. dlynch says:

    maggots.

  20. riverstyxxx says:

    Pizza Hut sucks.
    Their dough is all pre-packaged and trucked over, sits in a freezer for god knows how long.
    Their cheese/sausage/pepperoni/mushrooms/etc is all sent in bags, either frozen or otherwise.
    You know those hot wings you paid 6 dollars for? Yep, pre-packaged.

    It’s expensive fast food, nothing more. And their stuffed crust is fucking awful, makes me want to throw up. The commercials are insulting because it’s always clean, wholesome families portrayed via the healthy looking delivery boy with not a problem in the world.

  21. magic8ball says:

    @speedwell: Where do you live??? Because I’m totally moving there. Also, shut up, I’m hungry now.

  22. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @Michael Belisle: My last decent sized company had a “food@company” email. They opted into everyone deals and menu emails and when we wanted to order something we hit that email and searched for what we wanted. Worked out so well I set the same thing up for myself with gmail.

  23. greensmurf says:

    @speedwell: Me too, for the most part, but most of those places are pesudo restaurants, but Imagine if you could order Taco Bell and have it delivered? Especially if it were 24/7 delivery, no more border cravings at 1am….
    Would that make all us Americans lazy?

  24. ChuckECheese says:

    @riverstyxxx: I agree. Where’s the chloracne? Why isn’t anybody drunk in those ads? It’s like watching another planet.

  25. mewyn dyner says:

    Ugh, Pizza Hut has been driving me bonkers with their emails. One day I decided that I wanted a nasty pizza (I get hankerings for bad food every now and again), so I went online during class (*snickers*) to go and order myself the pizza so I could pick it up on the way home. Well, despite clicking the “I wish to stop receiving these emails” links and changing my email address in their database, I’m still getting them, and getting quite annoyed. Soon I’m going to filter them at the server level, or maybe bounce the email back to every possible email address @pizzahut.com.

  26. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @magic8ball: Houston, uptown, on a street corner where several ethnic neighborhoods happen to sort of intersect. Hell of fun but definitely not for the faint (or artherosclerotic) of heart.

    @greensmurf: No, real live restaurants. Never seen anything like it, even in college towns. And true, no 24/7. Only one decent place even delivers after 9:30 or 10 (Sarpino’s, hooray. Open ’til 1, and pizza with everything you can imagine on it but the stripper busting out the top).

  27. Ex_EA_Slave says:

    Customer loyalty to Pizza Hut? Are you kidding? Dominoes and Poppa John’s just not craptastic enough for you? Next time you want pizza, put some ketchup on cardboard and you should be satisfied.

  28. Buran says:

    @ChuckECheese: I do have problems from time to time with the minimums (it’s lower for my bf) but I get around it by just picking up the food on my way home from work. That’s a delivery minimum, though, not an ordering minimum.

    I do not, however, get ad spam from them; I used to when I was in their “VIP Program” but they’ve since dropped that. I also seem to remember opting out of one spam mail ages ago that they sent me during the VIP thing (which was entirely optional) and I was never bothered again. However, that wasn’t the same as my current online account. I really don’t know why I’m not bothered with spam and others are. Go figure. I’m not sure when I got that last marketing mail, though.

    I don’t get hassled with “I need your coupon” but the local paper coupons are available online too usually. That particular problem I would guess is a manager who’s decided to powertrip slightly and is probably just a local thing.

  29. Buran says:

    @theblackdog: Seriously. What’s with that? PH used to have decent deals. So did Papa John’s (I forgot about them earlier when I grumbled that Domino’s is the only online-orderable place other than PH. I was wrong, PJ is a choice too and they’re not bad).

    Now, I page through the coupons and I wonder why they’re even bothering. Their “specials” are what you would think pizza normally costs. They’re ripping us off right when people can’t afford to eat out.

    I just get a single-serve pizza by ordering online from work or SMS if I’m out, and sometimes breadsticks, pick it up myself on the way home and save on delivery/tip fees.

  30. magic8ball says:

    The thing is, though, asking to get taken off their spam list won’t necessarily get you taken off their spam list – nor will it get you taken off the spam lists of whoever else they’ve sold your email address to.

  31. @Buran: The cost of cheese and wheat have gone up dramatically in the last couple years, at least when you’re talking about buying it by the ton.

    I too miss the days of two large (which really means medium, but whatevs) and a 2-liter for 10 bucks.

  32. MissTic says:

    One “please unsubscribe me” email was all it took for us. Now, fighthing them on a double charge took a bit more effort. I had to call the individual store manager because the corporate number on the website ordering system was no help.

  33. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    That goes directly against email marketing best practices that companies usually use. Why would a company sign someone up who isn’t interested? Big companies like that use email service providers to send out email and handle ISP issues, so it actually costs money for them to send an email. Unfortunately, they aren’t going against the CAN-SPAM act, so you can’t report them. How ridiculous. Save a ton of money or sign up a bunch of people who don’t want to hear from you? The choice should be obvious.

  34. riverstyxxx says:

    I also recommend avoiding “Round Table Pizza”. A medium costs around 20 bucks and everyone is incredibly snotty. I sent the company a complaint and the site wasn’t even working right.

  35. Android8675 says:

    I love da online ordering thing, and I’m sorry to say it, but of all the pizza places in my area (and we have a lot) Pizza Hut has the best online ordering system. They’ve never gotten it wrong, in fact I can order really complicated pizza’s which is hard if I call it in because most of my local boys are hispanic, and I don’t speak Spanish. It’s a win win.

    Dominoes has online ordering but all the shops in my area (2 in range of my place) aren’t hooked up yet. mt. Mikes I love to order from as well, but their menu system isn’t as complicated, and I always end up spending like $20, for a pizza and salad. Papa Murphys, nothing. Papa Johns, not sure. Little Ceasars, nope.

    I’m getting hungry thinking about this.

    I get emails about once a month from Pizza Hut vs. 2-3 per week from dominoes in the mail. I think someone once said, Pizza was the worlds most perfect food. I don’t think it’s perfect, but I do enjoy a good slice.

  36. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    At first I was going to say “why don’t you all just pick up the phone and spend the 45 seconds it takes to order a pizza”, and then I realized that for those of us who live in areas where people who work behind the counters don’t…how shall I put this delicately…have a great grasp of the English language, online is the best/most feasible option.

    There’s got to be a way to discontinue receipt of these e-mails through an opt-out link in e-mails they send you?

  37. sprocket79 says:

    Ok is it really that much more effort to pick up the phone and call in your pizza order? Also – don’t eat at Pizza Hut. Their pizza is gross. Do yourself a favor and find a good local pizzeria.

  38. econobiker says:

    The problem does occur if one can actually ORDER PIZZA FOR DELIVERY from their local Pizza Hut via internet or phone. Somehow I get ad flyers for pizza hut delivered to my apartment complex mail box yet the local pizza hut cannot deliver to our complex because “it is not on their system” not too far away or not too dangerous but -not existing.

  39. Bentpost says:

    The other option is to eat something that is actually real food and avoid these fast food chains altogether.

  40. riverstyxxx says:

    @sprocket79: Good way to tell if they’re a decent local chain is by seeing what type of beers they have on tap. If they have a selection of dark/imported, you’re probably in a good place. If nothing but cheap american shit, then avoid.
    Doesn’t mean you have to drink, but pizza places that are cool tend to have good beer.

  41. Michael Belisle says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: Oooh that’s pretty good. I didn’t think of making one generic food address and signing up for offers willy-nilly.

    But with the generic name, you miss out on the fun when you’re on the phone with a business:

    Party Poker CSR: May I have your email address please?
    Me: partypoker@example.com
    PPCSR: No sir, I need your email address.
    Me: That is my email address: partypoker@example.com
    PPCSR: Alright…

  42. youbastid says:

    @Bentpost: @sprocket79: That is very original, for every time consumerist posts something about a fast food chain, nobody ever comments that people just shouldn’t eat there and should find a local, good place instead. You should post this kind of valuable insight more often, because it makes a huge difference in the way people conduct their lives.

  43. Buran says:

    @HRHKingFriday: And where’s my raise to buy their overpriced food? That’s right, I didn’t get one. You can’t sell at prices people can’t pay.

  44. Buran says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Try doing that with earplugs in, whydoncha.

  45. HeartBurnKid says:

    For Papa John’s, at least, you can get better details through RetailMeNot than through their site. They used to have a buy one get one code that I used and abused like crazy. No more of that, but there’s plenty of “buy large specialty, get large 1-topping for 99 cents” and the like.

  46. tortcat says:

    We just simply use a google or hotmail account for that kind of stuff. Very easy to dump the account and make a new one if you get spammed and dont want to read it.

  47. sprocket79 says:

    @youbastid: It doesn’t have to be original to be true. Keep eating your Pizza Hut, you have no idea what you’re missing.

  48. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @sprocket79:
    1) I’m betting that most places don’t handle calls from the deaf very well

    2) Do you really want the people who have to hmm and haw over every detail of their order and hear every special offer twice to call instead of doing it online where they can just read everything? I do not enjoy being on hold myself.

  49. Buran says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Bingo! Thank you for understanding. Online ordering takes it from a huge hassle and time waster to no trouble whatsoever. And those who have more severe impairment often have an “accent” (because they can’t hear normal speech to imitate it the way hearing people do) are difficult for hearing people to understand.

    I never really thought of it this way but it really is sort of like captioning for ordering calls. You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to (you can still pick up the phone, or you don’t have to turn on captions/subtitles) but for those of us who depend on those services, they’re vital.

  50. Buran says:

    @sprocket79: Why don’t you just take your holier-than-thou “if it’s not from a hole in the wall, it sucks” attitude and go find some other forum to annoy people in? People can eat whatever they damn well please and they don’t deserve to be harassed about it any more than the guy who shops at Wal-Mart does. This is not a place to complain about things like that, negativity needs to be kept to the original subject matter, thanks.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Pizza Hut…..people eat that stuff? I’ll be dammed.

    They could give the stuff away and I still would not eat it. Would much rather give my money to the local pizzeria.

  52. Traveshamockery says:

    They lost my business at least once due to the requirement to submit to their email Spam in order to buy online.

    This is ridiculous.

  53. riverstyxxx says:

    @wideawake: To quote George Carlin: “Americans’ll eat anything, Anything! If you sautee or deep-fry raccoon’s asshole, people will buy it and EAT IT!”

  54. Traveshamockery says:

    @wideawake: Don’t be a snob, or worse a troll. If nobody was eating Pizza Hut pizza, the wouldn’t be in business, now would they?

  55. Hmmm, I order from Pizza Hut, only online, maybe 3 times a month, I hate pizza, but I like the breadsticks (mmm I dip them in hot sauce) I’ve been ordering online for about 2 years now, and I’ve never gotten any spam, not even in my spam folder… I guess I remembered to unclick that thing when I signed up.

  56. Traveshamockery says:

    I think this is a recent requirement for those just registering now at PH’s site.

  57. Moosehawk says:

    @Michael Belisle: Yea I totally agree the Papa John’s offers suck balls. All I’ve seen is dumb shit like “Buy a Large 5-topping pizza for only $14! Exclusive to e-mail subscribers!”

  58. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    I order pizza hut online and I cant remember the last time I got an email from them. You can always unsubscribe afterwards.

  59. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: “You can always unsubscribe afterwards.”

    Famous last words.

  60. tylerk4 says:

    Once I found a nice locally owned establishment, I forgot Pizza Hut even existed. The quality of the pizza I consume has obviously improved.

  61. Nytmare says:

    I find it odd that the official email address is “webmaster”. Not just because the job of webmaster has little to do with processing of marketing data, but because the address of webmaster is often overloaded with spam and other crap that I bet most companies don’t even read that address.

  62. UnnamedUser says:

    Why TF would anyone buy Pizza Hut pizza in the first place? That stuff is certifiably awful!

    Second, why give them your real email address in the first place. Many people I know maintain a pool of free accounts at the likes of Yahoo for just this purpose. I have accounts at Yahoo that I log onto every month or so. My only action on login is to mark most of the messages as spam and log out. I have absolutely no expectation that any message to these accounts is meaningful at all.

    I wonder if Microsoft, when it becomes MicroHoo, realizes that it will be acquiring many accounts that serve no purpose other than as spam sinks? Afterall, they are going for the eyeballs, right?

  63. Jon R. says:

    The only reason to order from Pizza Hut is that there is no other pizza place within 20 miles. I guess poor customer service goes hand-in-hand with their disgusting pizza-like product. Papa John’s isn’t any better. I gave them a try a couple of times. Their pizza seemed to have an aftertaste of melted plastic. Scary. If the only pizza I could order were from Pizza Hut, I would just keep a couple of frozen pizzas from the supermarket in my freezer.

  64. youbastid says:

    @sprocket79: So are you implying that someone who eats at Pizza Hut ONLY eats at Pizza Hut? I order from them once in a great while, but I’m well aware that there are other, better options. I’m pretty positive that anyone that goes to McDonald’s knows that there are better options. Sometimes you’re just in the mood for it.

  65. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    It doesn’t have to be original to be true.

    @sprocket79: But what you said isn’t true. “don’t eat at Pizza Hut. Their pizza is gross.” That’s an opinion not a truth. It’s also not very helpful.

  66. timmus says:

    I’m somewhat of a pizza connoisseur (even ordered pies by FedEx from NYC several years ago). I will say that Pizza Hut is good in its own way… the sauce is pretty tangy and the entire pizza has kind of an oily or greasy consistency which to me is a good thing. On the downside, knowing Pizza Hut’s economy of scale and being a sister of KFC/Taco Bell, they’re likely sourcing the cheapest, most highly processed ingredients available, something less likely to be happening at your locally-owned brick oven pizzeria.

    I will say that I’ve also ordered online through Dominos the last place I lived (where there is no brick oven place) and I was highly pleased with the service, and didn’t get opted into any crap. I recommend them if you don’t have any good local pizza.

    You can also make your own pizza. Though in my experience I haven’t had much luck making a good dough, and good cheese is DAMN expensive (us end consumers don’t get the good deals the pizza places do). Where I live right now there’s no pizza delivery, so I usually just buy the best pizza I can find in the supermarket (I hate how it’s always a caky crust though). </ramble>