Most computer users will agree – we all hate spam. It’s the scourge of the internet. For an individual, it’s an annoyance. For a business, it is an expense. Some businesses have gone to great measures to prevent spam – and some have gone too far. I ran into an example of this recently.
I had occasion to conduct business with a certain company recently, and I was in regular communication with one of its representatives. Eventually I needed to send an email to Dave, the CEO, with some questions before I purchased the product being sold by this company (I won’t mention the name of the company, but the product being sold is several thousand dollars, so the typical sale does take some time and several exchanges of email).
The first email I sent to Dave brought back this automated response:
So, I can’t just send Dave an email directly while trying to spend my money with his company. I have to first click a link and satisfy the “Spamarrest” people that I am not a spammer. This, after I had already been in extensive communication with his company. Okay, I clicked the link so that my email would get to him.
My email went straight to Dave at that point, and we all lived happily ever after. NOT. No, I was given another hurdle to jump over with the following message (you can click to read it full size if you want).
1. I must guarantee that my email to Dave was not spam
2. If my email was spam, then Dave had to have requested that spam previously
3. That my email does not violate any local, state or federal law
4. That it is fair and reasonable that I be required to abide by this agreement
5. That this agreement is required if I want my email to be sent on to Dave
6. That if I violate this agreement, I will have to pay Spamarrest $2000 for each violation
7. That if I violate this agreement, I will have to pay Dave $2000 for each violation
8. That the $2000 fine is appropriate and reasonable
9. That each time I violate this agreement, it costs Dave and Spamarrest each $2000 in damages
10. That any court action that arises from this will be handled in the state of Washington
11. That I give up my right to have the court hearing anywhere other than the state of Washington, no matter how inconvenient it is to me
This is truly amazing. In fact, there is only one thing more amazing than this slap in the face to a potential customer; that’s the fact that there are lots of people that just agree to all of the above (most of the time without even reading it). There is no way in the world I would enter into such a one-sided contract as this, and I called Dave by telephone and told him so.
This is like building a retail store, then constructing a brick wall directly in front of the cash register.
As I said, I hate spam as much as anyone else. But if you drive away customers at the same time you are driving away the junk email, you may want to reconsider your procedures.