The Wrong Way to Run an Email Opt-Out

spam_spam_spamA few months ago, I received a new newsletter from a publication I’d unsubscribed to long ago. I clicked on the unsubscribe link, but it wasn’t on the list of their publications (!).

So, I opted out of everything that was. Then, to make sure, I sent them an email asking to be removed from all their lists.

I got a reply back asking which newsletters I didn’t want.

I sent an email back saying, “Well I don’t want any of them. Suppress me!”

Then another reply, “From which lists?”

All of them!

The response to this was, “Well, we have 30 different lists, which one did you want to be removed from? And which did you originally subscribe to?”

I sent back, “I have no idea. I don’t remember, just take me off all of them!”

At this point, I was getting annoyed. Shouldn’t they have a universal opt-out? Doesn’t the FTC have rules about this?

It took 4 hours, 10 emails back and forth, and a little bit of luck (finding my account number) to get everything stopped and block my email address!!

If you have an email newsletter (and you should) you need to follow a few simple rules (they didn’t).

Here they are:

1) Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand.

2) Give a return email address or another easy online method to allow people to tell you what they want.

3) You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you.

4) Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days.

5) You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.

Full text of the rules here:

ftc email rules

Photo: Arnold Inuyaki