Create Your Own Opt-Out When A Company Ignores Your Requests

Mark started getting promotional emails from Hilton over a year ago, and he’s tried all sorts of opt-out strategies:

I’ve gone through the website unsubscribe process at least a couple of times, I’ve sent ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ emails twice to the address they’ve listed, and I’ve even spoken on the phone with a Hilton CSR whom assured me that it would be ‘taken care of’.

I’m at my wits end here, Consumerist. How do I make it stop???

You could always send them a written letter with your request, and point out that they’re in violation of the law—”When you receive an opt-out request, the law gives you 10 business days to stop sending email to the requestor’s email address”—and that they can be subject to “fines of up to $11,000” per violation. We have zero faith that the FTC will actually pursue Hilton, of course, but maybe by including this information, you can get their attention and prove to them that you’re serious about wanting them to stop.

But the faster, more permanent solution is to take the power away from Hilton and make it so that you never see another communication from them unless you want to.

If you don’t already have a free Gmail account, set up one, then log into your Hilton account and change your email address to a “Gmail + alias” like so:


is your regular default gmail address, on your Hilton account page replace your real email with

Now you can set up a custom filter in Gmail to immediately trash all future Hilton spam, and it’s entirely under your control, and to hell with Hilton’s broken spam compliance implementation.

Mark is probably rolling his eyes at this point, because he already knows this, but we’re sharing it with the rest of our readers too. Just add a plus sign and whatever you want after your real email handle and it will still be routed to your default Gmail inbox, where you can then filter it out using regular old filter rules.

If you use a + alias for each commercial entity where you have an account, you can easily route annoying businesses to the trash folder without needing their cooperation at all—and you can turn on access again whenever you want.

Note: Several readers w/more tech experience than I have pointed out that the + alias trick isn’t unique to Gmail; lots of email providers allow for this.

(Photo: SDCDeaCerte)

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