Monday, October 30, 2006

Is eBay Violating the CAN-SPAM act?

I recently purchased a Smartphone and was very pleased to get all my personal email with me every where I went. I downloaded Yahoo!go so I could bet my Yahoo! messages delivered to my smartphone, and setup my gmail on pop3 so that my main emails would hit me anywhere I went. I even tried half-heartedly to setup my hotmail, but as it is kind of a spam catch all for me I thought better of it.

But then I started to realize that I get way too much spam and other messages I didn't consider important. 4 messages every half hour hitting my inboxes and causing that little bundle of joy to beep in my pocket was too much. I started to systematically unsubscribe from every mailing list and promo that I managed to get myself on, and it seems to have improved my lot. I now only get email from people, and things I find important in my inbox (yahoo and google catch most if not all of my spam.) The one exception to this has been eBay.

They appear to be a little more onerous than most legitimate companies as far as what they consider "required email". I realize that as an institution that allows me to buy things from others that some communications cannot be disabled, or shouldn't be at the very least to prevent fraudulent use of my account. I am ok with that, the one that chapped my hide is the "Favorite Sellers" email. This didn't seem like anything but marketing, surely I could unsubscribe from this set of emails? They have to let me right? Wrong.

I have been an eBay customer for quite sometime and have long been annoyed at the volume of email my very limited activity with the site generates. Recently I have taken to unsubscribing from every marketing type email coming into all of my email boxes knowing that one of the rules of the CanSpam act is that companies have to give the opportunity to opt out of their marketing.

Excerpt from FCC

"It requires that your email give recipients an opt-out method.

You must provide a return email address or another Internet-based response mechanism that allows a recipient to ask you not to send future email messages to that email address, and you must honor the requests. You may create a "menu" of choices to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to end any commercial messages from the sender.

Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your commercial email. When you receive an opt-out request, the law gives you 10 business days to stop sending email to the requestor's email address. You cannot help another entity send email to that address, or have another entity send email on your behalf to that address. Finally, it's illegal for you to sell or transfer the email addresses of people who choose not to receive your email, even in the form of a mailing list, unless you transfer the addresses so another entity can comply with the law. "

Below is a image of the email that was the source of my ire. I started to wonder if I really needed to be getting these emails, they do look very promotional in nature. I don't recall signing up for updates on my favorite sellers, but I am sure that there was some click through on it somewhere.

Having decided on my to walk the path of unsubscribing, I did the sensible thing and started to look for Unsubscribe links. Well what do we have here....

It leads to this page... right, no option to not receive those emails here. Referring back to the email I saw another option to unsubscribe..

Ok, apparently not so much.

Anyhow, any other thoughts on not getting these email? I realize I could block just the address or as my astute wife pointed out delete all the favorite sellers from my list. However the more elegant method and the method prescribed by the law (see above) would be to offer a true "Unsubscribe" link. I don't know if this is truly a violation, but how does the CAN-SPAM act get enforced?


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