Why Make Unsubscribing a Painful Chore?

Today has been one of those days where you look at the email piling up and ask yourself  ‘Why am I subscribed to all these things I never read?’ Which is what I asked. Then I set about taking some action.

By way of background, last year I subscribed to a whole lot of newsletters and not a few affiliate programs, in order to do some close-up study of what was happening in internet marketing. I’ve since narrowed the focus of what I’m interested in and I’ve also come to appreciate how much more manageable it is to use RSS than email to get updated on what’s important. As distinct from sitting here waiting to be bombarded with sales pitches!

So I thought, OK, I’ll just cull out the stuff I’m not reading any more or very often, take a note of what I’m dumping in case I need to go back to it, and then I’ll have a much more manageable inbox.

Easier said than done.

Some ezines and marketing lists are easy enough to unsubscribe from. There is a reasonably obvious unsubscribe link, usually at the bottom of the ezine or letter. Others are very devious, very tricky. And at least one I found today to be downright annoying.

Sometimes it’s just difficult to find the unsubscribe. Others give you choices, like whether you want to subscribe from this particular newsletter, when what you really want is not to hear from them again unless and until you choose to.

But the one that took the cake for me today was a  producer of online marketing courses and information products. They have a ‘subscription management’ web page you are taken to. Then to unsubscribe from the newsletter you have to include a complete copy of a current issue, etc. Basically providing various hoops to jump through, which I can only assume is to discourage me from unsubscribing. I proceeded grudgingly to fill out the form, then went back to my Outlook to get a copy of a newsletter to submit, copied and pasted that in the box. Then I saw they wanted ‘full header information’ so I went back and got more information – suspecting that as I was not sure what ‘full header information’ meant, neither would most people.

I’m still not sure I’ve been unsubscribed from this company’s list. What I am sure of is that I resent the time this has wasted and am quite mystified as to why they would want to hang on to someone who doesn’t want to get their stuff, at least for the time being. I would like to name them, but don’t want to give them free publicity.

There are all sorts of reasons why people might not want to get your material for a while, including the possibility that people are taking a holiday and don’t want their email account to implode. Why not make it easy for people to unsubscribe and have them receive an exit message that says you’re sorry they are leaving, you wish them well and hope to see them back one day? No harm done and they may well come back.

I know one thing. I’m very committed to making it a simple process to unsubscribe from any list of mine.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I get annoyed when after unsubscribing, I get a request to confirm my unsubscribe request. Because of the email problem, I delete all emails that looks like spam. I almost deleted the requests for confirmation, and had I done so, I would have remained subscribed! Do they really think there are hackers going around trying to unsubscribe people without their permission? I also hate it when they request a reason for my unsubscription. Come on, get over it, if I don’t want any more emails, it doesn’t matter. A little more respect for people’s time and inbox management.

    I actually like it when people unsubscribe to my list, because I don’t want to send messages to any one who isn’t a fan and loves hearing from me!- Patsi Krakoff, http://www.coachezines.com & http://www.customizednewsletters.com

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’re right, of course — I suppose that’s why I’ve never actually done it. But, oh, how I want to sometimes. 😉

  3. Anonymous says:


    Interesting suggestion. I hesitate to report someone for spam, partly because I know that sometimes it’s not so much a conspiracy as ineptness – in this case, it’s conceivable that some service provider has delivered an exceedingly clumsy and non user-friendly ‘solution’ for the unsubscribe function – and would have dressed that up in fancy jargon and a hefty bill, no doubt!


  4. Anonymous says:

    Faced with these annoying tactics, I find myself tempted to identify the newsletter as spam, especially if my filter software shares my decisions with others on the server. If enough people do it, they’re blacklisted and perhaps the publisher notices a drop in the number of emails opened. Maybe they’ll even connect the dots?

    Wishful thinking, I know, but in the meantime at least my blood wouldn’t boil every time I see the newsletter arrive in my inbox.