Unsubscribing is hard to do

I’m spring cleaning my gmail account at the  moment, which just means that when I receive an unwanted mass mail-out from some company or other I bother unsubscribing rather than just deleting the email. Paying attention to these emails however has demonstrated just how many weird mailing lists I’m on.

This morning I received an email from Marbig. The stationary supplier…  I’m not sure if I should delete this one because they’ve got some pretty great competitions:

100 x FREE Marbig Correction Tape up for grabs!
Throw out that old liquid correction pen and discover correcting your work with tape!  No need to wait, tape goes on dry so you can make your corrections immediately.

Unsubscribing is a lot like breaking up with someone.

Some companies adopt the bandaid approach. Click ‘unsubscribe’ once and you’re redirected to a page that tells you that you’ve successfully unsubscribed. “If that’s what you want, fine. Never call me again.”

Some companies have trouble letting go. Click ‘unsubscribe’ and you’re redirected to a page asking you, “are you sure this is what you want?”

Some companies respect your wishes, but want to know what they did wrong. “We’re sorry to see you unsubscribe, tell us in 250 characters or less why you’re leaving us”.

Some send the ‘closure’ email. Once you click unsubscribe you receive an email in your inbox reminding you of the break up. “We got your request to unsubscribe, and will respect that, but there are just a few more things I want to get off my chest…”

Then there’s the strangest tactic, the “I will confuse you into staying with me”. This is when clicking ‘unsubscribe’ redirects you to the company’s website with a million things going on all over the page so you can’t find the button to confirm your request.  I think this is the break up equivalent of when someone with good debating skills challenges the break up with clever arguments. “Ah yes, I knew you would say that because you have commitment issues. I’d like to remind you of November 2004 when we were in the park and you said that thing…Yeah, well I guess that kinda proves my point. OK, so where do you want to go for dinner?”

Amazon was by far the most difficult break up. I clicked ‘unsubscribe’, was redirected to a busy page full of options, found an ‘unsubscribe’ button buried somewhere, received an email to confirm the break up and then another email reminding me that it was actually only a partial breakup. I would no longer receive general notices, but I would still receive recommendations for books based on previous purchases, special announcements and legal notices (“OK, so we’ll stop hanging out on the weekends, but I’m still going to call you every day, and hey, let’s spend Christmas together”). So I went back to step one and clicked ‘unsubscribe’ again (“no really, I don’t want to see you anymore”). Was redirected to the busy page again, and noticed this time that I had to select each mailing list I wanted to be removed from. No, I do not want to receive recommendations based on previous purchases; no, I don’t want to receive special announcements; no I don’t want to receive legal notices. (“No, you can’t call me! No, I will not come with you to your sister’s wedding!”)

One constant with every mailing list break up is that when you finally do get to the “You have successfully been removed from our mailing list” page, it’s written in tiny font, cowering in the top left hand corner of the page, like a defeated, beaten, sad shell of a mailing list.

it's over


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