|Received:||4/17/2004 12:39:19 PM|
|State:||Not in the US|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
Dear Sir, I have a small business as an affiliate marketer, and one way of providing free information (business tips), and offers available from my affiliate partners, is through an opt-in e-mail list. My subscribers can unsubscribe from my newsletter at any time. I have received concerns from my affiliate partners, that it would be difficult to technologically administer this suppression list, and if they were to implement more procedures it would cost more time and money on something that does not get to the root of the spam problem. Such concerns will put legitimate marketers out of the e-mail business, including myself. These organizations, myself and others do not send out bulk, unsolicted e-mail. We abide by the rules and operate with utmost integrity. Spammers, however, do not. Here are some objections that I have heard which I whole-heartedly believe: It is impossible to know the intent of an individual when they send an unsubscribe request, The content no longer interests them. They get too much mail from that specific list. They get too much mail in general. Something in that specific email rubbed them the wrong way. They mistook the email for something it wasn't. (Spam or another publication are the most common.) They want to get that publication at a different address. They're unsubscribing temporarily because of an extended vacation or other absence, and wish to lower their email load while away. If each of those unsubscribe requests, regardless of reason, leads to the sender being put on the suppression list of one or more merchants, you end up with a lot of people who might be interested in the product being unable to hear about it from the publishers whose mail they still wish to receive. This will cut into government tax revenue. Here is another interesting scenario: Consider: All other things being equal, the best products are likely to also be the most widely promoted. The more widely promoted a product is, the greater the merchant's exposure to inaccurate additions to their suppression list. Every time their product is mentioned, every person who unsubscribes, regardless of their real reason, gets added to the suppression list. This could have devastating impact on their ability to advertise in or be promoted by the owners of publications or lists specific to their market. If there are more than a few publications in that market, this could wipe out some of the merchant's most valuable distribution channels, all while achieving little or no benefit to the consumer, who probably has no objection to hearing about the product in the first place. Add in the fact that unsubscribes tend not to be traceable to one specific email, and the inevitable "Suppress 'em all and let God sort 'em out" approach (the only safe one, given this scenario), will result in wholesale destruction of affiliate marketing via solicited email. This benefits no-one, and does nothing to advance the purposes of the Act. Again, this cuts into government tax revenue based on sales to consumers that will never be made. Many unsubscribe requests do not actually come from the person whose email address is in the request. Viruses grab addresses from various places on infected systems and insert them randomly in the From: and To: fields of outgoing emails. The administration of such lists imposes a number of significant expenses and problems for the merchant aside from that of unnecessarily lost market share, the potential for suits brought on erroneous bases, and technical challenges. The largest is the problem of avoiding misuse of the suppression file. All it would take to swamp a merchant would be for a competitor, someone with a personal grudge, or just some teenaged prankster who thinks the net should be entirely uncommercial to sign up, get their suppression file, and spam those people with ads for that merchant's wares. Thank You.