By Ron VandenBoom
Its no secret that business and industry have found new homes on the Internet. I guess its not surprising, given the nature of the beast, that many entice potential customers by offering free samples of their products.
Ive visited many of these sites and Ive even sent away for samples. Many have sent the samples and several have not, but one thing they all seem to do is put me on their mailing lists.
I dont need their mail, but I guess they have a surplus of it.
In fact, I like to think Im providing a valuable service by allowing them to think its easier for me to dispose of it one envelope at a time than for them to throw it away in bulk. I also like to think Im responsible for at least one postman having a job.
Nor is it a responsibility I would recommend lightly. It requires many unique character traits like fortitude, courage, and a king-size mail box.
Those who think e-mail will prevent them having to carry large sacks of garbage to the trash are right sort of. Just because its e-mail doesnt mean youll get any less of it. The only thing you save is footsteps. Your trash can is as busy as ever.
Does your computer take 20 minutes to download your e-mail? Does your computer say ouch instead of youve got mail? Do you find only one out of 70 messages worth reading?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might have e-mailitis a virtually incurable disease that will not allow you to say no when asked if you want to receive e-mail.
Many Internet sites offer newsletters, contests, or notification when a site youve visited changes. Its very tempting to say yes when the site asks you if want to receive its newsletter. It is also easy to say yes when asked whether you would like to be notified of changes to a site or a product.
Answering yes to any of these questions can get you e-mail on a monthly, weekly, or even daily, basis.
Another means companies use to get you to subscribe is to ask you if you would like to be notified of upgrades when you download software. Answering yes could get you on mailing lists you really dont want maybe even several mailing lists.
There is nothing wrong with receiving e-mail you really have an interest in. But failing to observe closely what you are subscribing to, and using good judgment, can quickly bury you in junk e-mail.
This too might not be a bad thing if it were not so dog-gone hard to stop the messages once youve agreed to start them.
There is no common or universal way to stop e-mail. Every company that sends e-mail has a specific procedure you need to follow to be removed from its mailing list.
While some companies make the procedure as easy as sending a return e-mail telling them you want off of the list, others require you to follow a specific and somewhat complex procedure that requires typing in a code with just the right number of spaces and capital letters.
I can assure you from personal experience you will fail the first time you try. You may even fail so many times youll cave in to the belief that it is easier to delete the e-mail than to get it stopped.
If youre an e-mailitis victim, the only thing you can do is stop cold turkey and seek out an effective 12-step program. Remember, its not a weakness, its a disease.