Tuesday Tirade: Unsubscribing from online mailing lists

Remember that time you bought one thing from an online website, and now you get 4 million emails a day from them and their online partners. It’s exactly what you were hoping for, right? It doesn’t matter what website I use as an example because they all do it. Then there are the ones you get out of the blue because some idiot used your email to sign up for something (this is something I’ve been dealing with for years). Everyone hates this. It’s just barely above true spam – you know the emails you get telling you there are plenty of 30-somethings in your neighborhood just waiting for you to contact them…

But this barrage of emails isn’t what makes me the most angry. It’s unsubscribing from them. Sure, most give you a nice link at the bottom, usually is tiny letters, allowing you to update your preferences and discontinue their emails. But then you see this message:
Wait….WHAT?

How is this not instantaneous?
So, really what you’re telling me is an old lady sitting at a computer somewhere in a dank corner of your corporate headquarters watching a dot-matrix printer spit out email addresses of people who have asked to unsubscribe has to put down her knitting, hobbleold-lady-at-computer9 to the elevator and go down six floors, through a labyrinth fraught with dangerous and fantastical terrors, defeat the Troll King, to finally deliver a single sheet of paper with a single email address on it to the desk of another old lady sitting in front of another computer that does nothing but delete emails from subscription lists. This process must be repeated every single time an unsubscribe request is received. Right? Is that what happens? Of course not. Though that’d be really awesome. However it’s the only reasonable excuse I could see where it could take 10 business days (remember, don’t count the weekend!) to remove an email address from a mailing list.

No. There is nothing you could possibly say to me that makes me believe you do not have a script that runs this request automatically on your mail server or whatever program/interface that runs your mailing lists. I can communicate instantaneously via video with someone on the other side of the planet, or download an HD movie in less than five minutes, but it takes 10 whole business days to remove my email address from a mailing list. Right.

My guess is this is an excuse to allow them to continue sending emails within this 10-day window hoping you’ll reconsider and change your preferences back. But I don’t care. If I unsubscribe, don’t send me anything further. If I do change my mind, I’ll go back to your website on my own and sign up again.

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