Unsolicited emails

I receive tens of unsolicited emails each day from companies promoting themselves and their products. I say unsolicited because the companies add me to their email list without getting my permission, either by getting my email from a third party or by automatically adding me to their email list when I register as a user on their website. The first practice is clearly wrong, and I believe that the second should require a user to opt in manually, rather than assuming that they’ve already opted in by default. Unfortunately, most companies act this way.

An important distinction is that I’m talking about mass (including customer segment based) promotional emails, not emails updating me about existing transactions pertaining to my individual account. For example, I want to know when I should expect the arrival of a product I’ve ordered from an e-commerce site.

On the other end of the spectrum are those companies that care about their customers. They don’t spam you based on information they collect from a third party, and even if you have an account with them, they don’t email you unless you specifically opt in to receiving emails from them. These companies are very rare.

I’m surprised that this misbalance exists. I’ve never clicked on an unsolicited email from a company I don’t know to see what they’re offering, and I unsubscribe from each email list where I’ve registered as a user of a website but the company has added me to their email list without getting my permission. Sometimes companies don’t let you unsubscribe, or offer you this feature but don’t process your request. This moves them from not caring for their customer to not respecting their customer.

The likely explanation for why these emails continue to be sent is that there are enough people accepting spam and opt-in by default practices, and making purchases based on these emails, to make them worthwhile for companies. I find it interesting that people accept to be the customer of a company that doesn’t care about them, or worse doesn’t respect them.