Monday, April 10, 2006

Customer Care, (Part III)

Re: Fresh Easter Bouquets from $29.99 for a Limited Time

Dear Martha:

I am thwarted again, apparently, in my efforts to win relief from your unsolicited emails. Another such rascal worked its way into my inbox a moment ago.

Here's the cracker-upper: this most recent missive came with a link I can click, in the event I "do not wish to receive emails . . . in the future." But when I click that link, I am defeated, this time by an eight- (though it probably should be nine-) word sentence:

You are not opted into this email type. (Meaning, presumably, that I can't opt out now.)

And yet, if I weren't opted in <space> to this email type, I wouldn't get the message now, would I? And as a matter of English usage, is a person ever "opted?" I would think (and this is consistent with the way the world works outside of that it is up to me whether I opt or do not opt. When someone else opts for me, I haven't "opted" at all. The notion that I might be "opted" is anathema to me — which is why I continue to agitate (unsuccessfully) for some sovereignty over whether or not I must receive emails from It has to do with my worldview, you see.

I should also note the severe irony by which you've constructed your website to account for the possibility that a person might receive emails of a certain type, even though they have opted out of the type. That sentence should have no reason to exist on your server as a preconceived error message — unless it doesn't, and you've conferred some kind of artificial intelligence on your website, such that it can think up wild conclusions like this on its own, on the fly.

And maybe that's just it — maybe you have an autonomous computer that defies its programmers' instructions and thinks for itself. It's like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, except it sends people spam, instead of taking over spaceships.

If I send a nice Easter bouquet to your sentient server, will it back off with the email messages?




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