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How Email Marketers (AKA Spammers) are Killing the Planet

"85 per cent of email traffic is actually spam."

"The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions...similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally."

While we have worked hard to buy less online and support local businesses, occasionally there are things we choose to order for overall sustainability reason. Whether that be a year's supply of compostable charcoal dental floss refills that can't be found in stores, or the organic seed potatoes that our local nurseries here don't carry, or the plastic free SPF facial moisturizer that searched long and hard to find, we do our best to make sure we only order from places who package minimally and sustainably. But what sly tactic do a very large percentage of retailers take, particularly smaller businesses who are convinced this is the way to increase profits?

They greenwash while blatantly and illegally refuse to honor customer requests via both annoying AND carbon-footprint-increasing spam. Email marketing, AKA spamming customers without their permission, is the work of sleazebags, as is a large percentage of other types of marketing. You see, the laws don't protect consumers - they protect greedy businesses, and instead of requiring a customer opt IN to get emails, they only need to give you the option to opt OUT (i.e., unsubscribe) after you get their spam...after they've clogged your inbox and sold your data to others. And quite often they don't stop even after those requests. Until you change your email, some of them permanently go after you, it's pretty sick.

Nonprofits do it too. I love the work of many charities but I've stopped donating online to most of them because once you make a donation, they add you to their mailing list, then even more offensively, gets sold to other similarly-themed organizations. (Ever wonder why you get Sierra Club address labels in the mail when you've never donated to them or solicitations in your inbox from organizations you're unfamiliar with? Thank a nonprofit marketing team who's sold away your data without your permission.)

While it seems like they give you the option to "opt out" upfront, many out there blow off these laws and still email you, by paying spam marketers like who, ignore you during the checkout process when you unclick the 'send me marketing emails', and automatically start spamming you at the moment they receive your order, enrolling you in 'points' and other 'programs' without your permission and then claiming you once AGAIN need to unsubscribe - yet still send you emails even if you do that.

The best part is that the businesses, if you call them out on this, claim they "had no idea this was happening" and say they'll take you off their lists...and continue to email you over and over. And over. No matter how 'green' they claim to be.

So it was driving me nuts (everyone has things that piss them off - privacy invasion is absolutely one of mine), and I discovered there is one common denominator during online shopping that clued me in to these companies' unethical behaviors:

Their checkout page all has the same format. See the screenshot below and I'm sure it will look familiar:

Some things I've noticed.

  • It requires you to give them your email address upfront, before you've even given your credit card information. This ensures that, even if you don't proceed to the next page, they have saved your email address in their database. (Ever get those emails reminding you of what's 'still in your cart'?)

  • It will often not even tell you the cost of delivery UNTIL you've provided that email address. (I've had to input fake email addresses to find out the cost of shipping to avoid getting automatically added and then spammed before a purchase has even occurred - which it often doesn't as they get your data whether or not they get your money).

  • It auto-checks the "email me with news and offers" button that you have to unselect...but (as you can see in the next screen shot) even when you do that, they ignore your request and you are instantly spammed - literally at the same time you receive your confirmation via email.

So when I started noticing this in the cart/checkout process, I also noticed the Smile IO name popping up. What a bunch of dicks. Their sole purpose is to get businesses to pay them to force unwilling customers into 'loyalty' and 'referral' programs, stealing their data and breaking the law in the meantime. They take advantage of consumer weariness and apathy, the assumption that "well, everyone has my data anyhow" that causes people to stay quiet, while they rake in the dollars.

Fuck them.

We've made a point of telling every ecommerce retailer who does this that they have lost our business for good. Don't respect your customer? Claim to care about the planet while partnering with spammers? Few who walk away will tell you why, but know this: some of us still have ethics, y'all. Some of us WILL talk....and do business elsewhere.

Because some of us aren't going to tolerate their greenwashing.

"Advertisers focus efforts on those least likely to make thoughtful buying decisions...most marketing impedes rational decision-making and, in turn, makes the world worse. Or, in other words, most marketing is evil." ~ Psychology Today, 2017

1 Kommentar

15. Feb.

Fuck em

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