I'm Ben Gruber

2013 / 2 October

Email Irony


As part of an ongoing attempt to rid myself of  time consuming micro-events throughout the day, I have started the pains staking process of unsubscribing from every single email/newsletter that I do not read on at least a semi-regular basis.

When you actually get down to it – even with a generous interpretation of the word “semi” – it turns out you only read about 10% of your emails. This leaves the other 90% to unsubscribe from. So in the last week or so, I can proudly say that I have unsubscribed from my fair share of email lists. During this process, I have noticed many interesting patterns in unsubscribing theories – all of which involve milking every last ounce of value out of the customer.

Some companies make you re-enter the email you are trying to unsubscribe from before you can officially get off their list. Others, give you a one click unsubscribe option – but then try to get information from you as you leave – like a exit survey.

But none seem as ridiculous as the “unsubscribe confirmation email.” Let me break it down for you.

An email arrives in your inbox. It is from Corporation A. You have deleted the last 17 emails from Corporation A without reading a single one, and this one is the last straw. You do not want to have to delete this email one more time. So you click the tiny little unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. This quickly pops up another page that tells you that you are officially unsubscribed from the mailing list and that you won’t be receiving any more emails. Phew…

So you head back to your inbox to delete that still open email for the very last time. But as you tab over there is a little “1” next to your inbox heading. So you erase the email and get back to your inbox, only to find another email from Corporation A. What?? Yes, it is sadly true. They email you, to tell you, that you will not be receiving any more emails from them.

This is an actual email copy/pasted following my last unsubscribe (with the company taken out):

Subject: Corporation A: You are now unsubscribed


We have removed your email address from our list.

We’re sorry to see you go. Was this a mistake? Did you forward one of our emails to a friend, and they clicked the unsubscribe link not realizing they were in fact unsubscribing you from this list? If this was a mistake, you can re-subscribe at: <link to resubscribe>.

Nice, using a 1/1000 fringe case as the standard rule and as a theoretically reasonable reason to send yet another email to a user that has all but 3 seconds ago explicitly asked to not receive another email.

At first this was interesting as a case study, but now after having this happen a whole bunch during my cleansing process, it has become a comedy routine. Each time I see it, it gets a little more funny – like a classic Family Guy scene.

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