Hey, Coudal Partners! Don’t opt me in!

Two days ago I ordered a three-pack of Field Notes Notebooks. (Think of them as the start of a backlash against the seeming ubiquity of Moleskine users everywhere.) I first heard about them from a side reference on Daring Fireball earlier this year. Today I got SPAM from Coudal Partners, the makers of Field Notes, asking me to opt-out if I don’t want any more mail.

You’re receiving this because you signed up at Coudal.com or Jewelboxing and/or you recently bought something from us or one of our brands, like a Pixies or Dead Can Dance CD or a tee-shirt or Field Notes or something else (we’re a small creative firm in Chicago and we do a lot of different things). Whatever the case, thanks for signing up. If you’d like to quit getting these occasional missives, just click “unsubscribe” at the bottom. We’re really very good about that.

I call it SPAM because, despite their comments in the email to the contrary, I didn’t sign up for this email. Instead, Coudal decided (I assume), that since I ordered from them, clearly I must want to get email from them too. What does the Spamhaus Project say about this?

Opt-Out: All bulk email sent to recipients who have not expressly registered permission for their addresses to be placed on the specific mailing list, and which requires recipients to “opt-out” to stop further unsolicited bulk mailings, is by definition Unsolicited Bulk Email, a/k/a “Spam”.

Unconfirmed Opt-In: If an Opt-in request is unconfirmed, then it can not be verifiied. If it can not be verified then the Bulk Email Sender can simply say “You opted-in” which is why almost all spam claims “You opted-in to this list”.

I revisited the Field Notes website looking for where in my order process I got the chance to opt in or opt out, or a blurb that informed me that I’d be added to their mailing list, and found nothing. Not a single checkbox; not even a field for my email in the first place.

Where, exactly, did I sign up for this email?

(Ironically, this is the only email I’ve received from Coudal Partners. No order confirmation, nothing. Only a payment confirmation from PayPal; that’s where they got my email address, by the way.)

This is the height of conceit in many companies, the assumption that I want to receive their marketing screeds, which often have nothing to do with why they may have my email address. In this case, Coudal thought I’d want to know about something called “Layer Tennis“, which, near I can tell, is a bunch of Photoshop jockeys competing in an on-line design contest.

What, exactly, does manipulating images have to do with buying a set of notebooks?

After only a single interaction with Coudal, I’m already doubting my decision. Is this kind of behavior what I should expect? Should I worry that my email address will be sold? (Fortunately I use company-specific email addresses, so I can just change the one I use for PayPal if I need to.)

C’mon Coudal. I trusted you to do the right thing because Gruber usually does, and he uses you for his advertising, along with A List Apart, 37 Signals, and The Morning News, all sites I respect. If you want to email people, create a real confirmed opt-in list. Don’t just assume your customers want your marketing mails, no matter how “infrequent” that mailing is.

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