When Online Stores Get All Email Smothery

Some places you buy stuff from online are so super duper excited about your new business that they can’t stop emailing you about every little thing. The Brads webcomic does a cute little skewering of the overly communicative online store that even gets clingy when you try to unsubscribe. Relationship tip for companies trying to hook up with customers: desperation is a turnoff. Hit the link to get the full monty.

The Brads – Opt Out [bradcolbow]


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  1. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    What really pisses me off are the spam e-mails from retailers and other companies that say at the bottom “you are receiving this e-mail because you requested to receive special offers.” No, I didn’t, I always check/uncheck the appropriate boxes, and you spammed me anyway. Lowlifes.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      This is why you have to be careful with anything you sign up for. Online, on paper, anywhere. Oftentimes information you give out (in particular an email address) can and will be sold to other companies so they can spam you. Email addresses are NOT protected by anything like the Do Not Call list and we all know “unsubscribe” often doesn’t work anyway.

      I just use a bogus email address specifically for my signups so I can minimize the junk mail that gets to my personal inbox.

      Email costs practically nothing to send, it’s convenient for companies to use to spam you with.

      • seishino says:

        I have a domain. Each site I sign up for gets an email address of domainname@mydomain.com.

        The amount of crap that gets spat around in defiance of stated privacy policies is enormous. Either the claims that “we will never sell or trade your e-mail address” are BS, or the amount of servers out there which are unknowingly hacked is tremendous.

        • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

          That’s brilliant. I’m going to start doing that. Great way to trace things back to their source.

    • The Marionette says:

      Eh, just click the unsubscribe button then when that’s done mark it as spam. I use gmail and haven’t gotten a spam message in quite some time.

  2. Antediluvian says:

    Why would you reveal the punchline of a 20+ panel strip???? Please change the pic from the last 3 panels to the first 3 so you don’t piss off more readers. That was really stupid.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I can barely read what it says O_o

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      The humor is in your ability to relate, not in any plot twists. Unsubscribing from a company that’s overzealous in it’s email campaign is an expected result. Often you will then receive (as has been noted a few times on this site) notification of your change in settings. It’s not exactly a surprise.

      • PTB315 says:

        It’s just silly to post the punchline, regardless of the structure or anything of a joke. Knowing the punch line prior to hearing the joke never makes the joke better.

    • jamar0303 says:

      That was the punchline? Jeez.

  3. Dutchess says:

    What pisses me off is that there’s several companies I like to get offers from BUT they send them once or twice a day.

    Seriously, I don’t need to hear from you guys EVERY DAY. Once a week is sufficient or just send me an email when you have a big sale or on special promotions.

    After I bought my new house I signed up for notices from Lamps Plus. I had to stop because who the hell wants emails about freaking lamps EVERY DAY. It’s seriously annoying.

  4. jeff_the_snake says:

    i have a hotmail account just for forum and shopping registrations. all the junk mail goes there and my real inbox remains uncluttered.

    • PTB315 says:

      That’s the key. I have a Hotmail account for things I don’t want my name attached to in any way shape or form, OR that seems spamy. I have a Yahoo account for things that I may need to come back to for reviewing or some such thing, but that I don’t need constant access to. Gmail is for personal contacts (who I know won’t drag me into the chain email gang), bank stuff, and the more important sites whose updates and what not are important to me. Never gotten a spam message in the Gmail, and barely any in the Yahoo. The Hotmail is flooded with garbage.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        This is exactly my method, Hotmail/Yahoo/Gmail. I get all sorts of crazy things in my Hotmail inbox. It’s also interesting to put in a fake name and see which companies are selling your information.

  5. Olivia Neutron-Bomb says:

    I ordered some checks last week. I’ll let the following email subjects (by date) tell the tale:

    9/1 – Order Confirmation from Bradford Exchange Checks
    9/1 – Check Accessories are Here for Your Checks!
    9/2 – Don’t Wait to Coordinate Your Checks!
    9/3 – Have a Second Account? Save on Checks Now!
    9/7 – 6 Super Bowl Wins, 6,000 Limited-Edition Tributes – Own 1
    9/7 – Your Bradford Exchange Checks Order #992002990xxx Has Shipped!

    • Weighted Companion Cube says:

      What are these “checks” they speak of?

      • Firethorn says:

        I still use them – I have a few places that don’t take plastic or internet payments. It’s also good for the ‘occasional’ bill like my annual taxes*, insurance, and whatnot.

        That said, a single ‘box’ of duplicate checks will last me around 6 years at my current rate of usage.

        *No, they don’t have direct debit, nor would I necessarily want them to.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          I still like using checks for deductible or reimbursable expenses. They’re handy for creating a redundant paper trail.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        I have to use checks to pay my cleaners every two weeks. My box of checks from a couple of years ago should still last quite a while longer.

  6. dragonfire81 says:

    What’s with the survey syndrome these days?

    It seems every business I deal with either online or brick and mortar wants me to take some stupid survey to let me know how they did. Unless you did exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly, I see no reason to go out of my way to tell anyone how my experience was today. Ironically, if you badger me about the survey, I’m more likely to fill it out and give bad marks.

    Now I KNOW that employees at retail are required by management to beg customers to take the survey but that doesn’t change the fact they are annoying and, in my opinion, NOT a very good way of getting constructive feedback from customers.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      They erroneously believe that metrics will give them information on how to continue doing their business.

      • nobomojo says:

        they don’t really care of the metrics are correct, just that there are metrics. but as most people know, surveys are inherently flawed, so here we are back at square one.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          My company whines like little bitches when customers don’t answer a comparative question with the Highest Possible Affirmative, even after the customer has indicated that they’ve *never shopped with anyone else to compare with us.*

          If you fill out a survey and notice a stupid question, kindly *mention in the comments that the question was idiotic.* Why? Because Management doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the employees, they only care what the customers tell them.

          • dragonfire81 says:

            The last place I was at, the guy told me “If you think we did really well today be sure to give us a 9 or 10 out of 10, if we get an 8 it doesn’t help us any.”

            I gave them a 7. There was nothing in the experience that warranted a 9 or a 10. A personally, an 8/10 for me is a pretty good experience.

    • nobomojo says:

      Data is king (or data are king…that just sounds funny). this is something I learned in applied statistics class as well as while working for a bunch of marketing people.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      The trouble is. The retailers want to know how they are doing as a baseline. They know they’ll here about it if they really mess up big time, and occasionally will here about a time someone in their organization went well above and beyond the call of duty. But unless you’re Bank of America or Nordstrom’s, such extremes are generally anecdotal and really don’t reflect how they are serving the majority of their customers.

      And email is much less expensive than hiring mystery shoppers. Sorry you were annoyed. Have you become annoyed to the point of complaining up the chain of command? Well then we’ll “take it seriously” otherwise, mission accomplished!

    • Rain says:

      Whenever I do something significant at my main bank, TD Canada Trust, they usually phone me in the next few weeks for a follow up survey. I know some people who work for TD and so I know that branch bonuses are calculated solely on what kind of survey scores they get. So what if opening a new savings account was merely an average experience? I give those suckers perfect scores across the board.

  7. pb5000 says:

    This doesn’t bother me too much because I use gmail and create a filter for anything that shows up too much. Most of the emails I don’t mind getting because I set the filter up to mark them as read, label them and immediately archive, I don’t see them unless I search for them. Annoying ones I’ll unsubscribe from, and if that doesn’t work, I set a filter up to just automatically delete them.

    I understand I shouldn’t have to do this, but it takes all of 30 seconds to set up a filter and I don’t mind getting most of the offers, provided they are intrusive to me. My set up gets rid of the intrusion and works for me.

  8. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Corporate spam that requires me to go to a website to get off the list drive me crazy. It’s always to a website that I haven’t used in ages and I can never remember my password. Once logged in, the communication settings are always buried in some sub-menu.

    Whatever happened to just sending an email with “unsubscribe” as the subject?

    • nobomojo says:

      because then they have to hire someone to sift through hundreds of emails and manually unsub. people. not fun. there are folks at my job that have to do this.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        This can’t be automated?

        The listserv I moderated 25 years ago could handle subscribe and unsubscribe requests without my intervention.

        • nobomojo says:

          I dont know but I suspect it can but no one wants to shell out the dough for the software capability.

          • Silverhawk says:

            kb01 is right. I’ve been on an open source (a.k.a, ‘free’) listserv for 15+ years, and subscription functions are completely automated. Pretty basic stuff, it just takes someone to make the effort.

  9. mexifelio says:

    *must buy moon boots*

  10. Hank Scorpio says:

    What I hate is when you buy something from Amazon, then start getting the emails with recommendations based on your purchase. It’s fine when it’s something like a book or music, and they’re trying to match your interests. But, when it’s something that you might only buy once every ten years or so, it’s pretty annoying.

    Case in point, I bought a new mid-range receiver last year, and I still get emails saying “As someone who bought receivers in the past, you may be interested in these receivers…”

    Uh, no. I’m not interested in a new receiver just yet. Thanks.

    • Cantras says:

      Or even just *looking* at something. A friend linked me a page that was a whisk shaped like a beaver — “as someone who’s shown an interest in whisks”… No.

    • CamilleR says:

      I once got an e-mail from Amazon suggesting Astroglide. The only thing I could figure was that Amazon decided I was a gay male based on my purchase of a few Stephen Fry books and a Velvet Goldmine DVD (I’m actually a straight female).

    • ElizabethD says:

      Oh man, this is so true.

      In the past (and I’m talking WAY in the past) I’ve bought books as gifts for nieces and nephews. So Amazon thinks I still want to buy children’s books about hockey players, for example, even though the hockey-nut nephew is now almost 23 years old. Same with iTunes music. Some of their recommendations for me bring the lulz.

  11. duxup says:

    Same goes for facebook. You’re a fan of something and next thing you know they’re updating a dozen times a day, often about how many fans they have / want to get…

  12. Vermifuge says:

    I just had to let a few go… I enjoy finding a good deal in my in-box but in some cases months or years have gone by and I haven’t seen a worthy deal.. As of yesterday I said goodbye to a few…

    • buy.com
    • newegg.com
    • Ziff davis
    • Barnes & Noble
    • Williams-Sonoma
    • X-treme Geek, BBC
    • America
    • Zagg
    • REI.

    I’m sorry guys. I used to enjoy the monthly and even weekly emails. But most of you flooded my in-box daily in 2010.

    Oh and disney.com. Yeah you can go F#*@ yourself! I have unsubscribed at least a dozen times and I still get email. Yeah some of you may say just block them but Disney has dozens of domains and I haven’t yet been able to block them all.

  13. Guppy06 says:

    If I have to go through a login process to unsubscribe from the mailing list, that mail gets reported as spam.

  14. Cantras says:

    That cheap underoos sale that was advertised on Consumerist sometime back? an email at least every day, sometimes two — one from that branch of the site, one from the site overall.
    And I didn’t even get anything. :(

  15. ThaKoolAidKid says:

    What about when you unsubscribe and they say it will take 7-15 business days to remove you? No it won’t. It’s a database, I click unsubscribe, you delete my name. They use those last few days to hammer you with a few more spams.

    • Mike says:

      I HATE it when they do that. Total BS.

    • Just_A_Guy says:

      7-15 days is more or less a legal term that we need to comply with. Really, from a marketers point of view, if you click unsubscribe, I want you off my list immediately. And not for you, but for me. Your continual clicks on unsubscribe or lack of action brings down my chances of being delivered to your neighbors (people in the same domain). And sometime it can take a few days for the information to get fed back into the system where the list selection takes place, due to the links between databases. So…we’re trying (at least I am) to not bug you.

      • Silverhawk says:

        I appreciate that there’s at least one sane marketing person like yourself out there. Perhaps you could instill that thought process on some of your fellow marketing types, because far too many of them seem to have this twisted notion that continuing to fill my inbox with offers will somehow change my mind about buying from their company.

  16. thisisit says:

    The most irritating in my opinion is when you apply for a job somewhere, and they ad your name (usually without asking) to their newsletter or advertisement list.

    “Sorry we couldn’t hire you, but here are all the great things we’re doing without you!”

  17. legolex says:

    Bath & Body works recently pissed me off about this, except by NOT sending me emails.

    Every time I’d go there at the end of my transaction they’d say “Email for coupons?” well they already had my email so I’d decline. One time, the girl said “the more you give us your email address, the better the coupons!” So I did an experiment and whenever I would visit the store, I would give alternate email addresses. Neither address got better coupons than the other.

    The point of this being; I haven’t shopped at B&BW for months and now I don’t get ANY coupons. So I guess by giving your email address every single time it’s so you continue to receive coupons, if you don’t shop there, then they punish you with no coupons. Well they recently discontinued all their body scrubs so I punish them by no longer spending money there. Screw you B&BW and your email coupons.

    • thisisit says:

      That’s a great story!

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Yes, because if you were the only person buying one of their body scrubs a week, they should have clearly continued losing millions of dollars on the line, as well as packing the landfills full of crap.

  18. Pansy P says:

    I got an email once from a car dealership that I had briefly visited with the subject line “Sick of all the emails you’re getting from car dealerships?”

    It was the 7th email (in addition to 5 phone calls) I’d received from that dealer in a week. I responded that it was funny they’d ask and never email me again. Which, to their credit, they have not.

  19. SBinVA says:

    Place an order with Newegg.com, there’s the “Order Submitted”, “Order Successfully Charged”, “Order Shipped”, and “Invoice” emails. (I may have missed a step there.)

    Funny thing is they normally all arrive within a few hours of each other. Of course, if your order is split up to be shipped from different warehouses, yep….. all of those for each segment.

    This in addition to 2 copies of their daily promotion. Not that I really mind, I filter them in to a folder and check when I have time.

  20. flexorz says:

    If you don’t open any of newegg’s promotional emails for a while, they will automatically unsubscribe you – unless you confirm that you want to continue to receive them:


  21. CountryJustice says:

    Shortly after arriving in California, I inquired about a Ralph’s discount card. I know how the spiel works: if I forget my card, you can look it up with whatever phone number I provide. So the girl hands me a card and a form. I filled out only the phone number portion.

    “Oh, you have to fill the whole thing out,” she tells me.
    “No, I don’t.”
    “Yeah, because we send flyers and stuff in the mail and email.”
    “I get it. I don’t want it.”
    “I can’t take that unless it’s complete.”
    “But I can still use the card if I never return this form?”
    “Yeah, I guess.”
    “Great, have a nice day.”


    • webweazel says:

      I do this on purpose. I ask for the card(s) and they usually come attached to the sign up form. I just walk away saying “I’ll fill this out later.” I just pop out the cards and throw away the form.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        The stores around here are wise to that and they don’t attach the forms to the card. One store actually would not give me a card unless I brought back a form. They had just had some meeting about it or something, I guess, or some incentive program. So I put in bogus information.

        For some reason I never get the cashier to crack a smile when my name pops up in their system as “Mrs. J.J. Schmidt-Jingleheimer.” (Because his name is my name too, except I put mine first in the hyphenated surname.)

        • webweazel says:

          I’d probably put in bogus info, too. Might be a good idea to put in the address area the mailing address for one of the store’s other nearby branches. Then, their own store gets the junk they would send to you. *evil grin*

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            That’s getting into the border territory of the land of dirty tricks, where you’d sign up to a bunch of crap on purpose with the address of the poor miserable sinner who you want to persecute. *evil grins back*

    • Silverhawk says:

      This is something I initially wished I had done when I got my Kroger card. Then I started getting some really fantastic coupons in the mail. I mean seriously – free 1lb of butter, free gallon of milk, etc. No required purchase or anything. There’d be a dozen coupons in the envelope, and 2-3 would be for free items that I actually purchase. They’re obviously keeping track, and for once I don’t mind that they do.

  22. fischju says:

    Vistaprint. My god, the car magnets were a great price to advertise my business, but I don’t need 3 emails a day about ‘exclusive deals’ that I should be so excited about, when they never sell the items at ‘full price’

  23. 451.6 says:

    Car dealers. Ugh. I just bought my first car and naively thought that someone would send me price quotes if I filled out Edmunds’ dealer information request form. I made the mistake of putting my contact information and I was bombarded. Fortunately, I used my grad school email address and everything will be deleted in a year, but it was so annoying. My mother is still laughing at my pain.

  24. crazydavythe1st says:

    Tip for those of you that use gmail (it may work for other providers too)

    When you give your to a site, put it in as johndoe+nameofsite@gmail.com. For example:
    johndoe+ticketmaster@gmail.com might be one that you use.

    The email still arrives as if it was sent to johndoe@gmail.com. You can then filter the email if you need to based on this. A plus is that you can tell immediately if a company has sold your email to spammers, as you might get something like “Buy Some Viagra” and when you look at the e-mail they sent it to, it will have the johndoe+ticketmaster@gmail.com address. Then you can contact whatever company was involved and you can threaten them as you see fit.

    This may not work forever, as they can just strip everything after the plus sign, but it seems to work right now. Of course, if they do that, then they are sending completely unsolicited email and you know exactly what company is doing it.