<Note: I am currently traveling; this post has been written in advance of my departure>
I think that given the state of today’s spam filters, we do a reasonably good job of keeping most inboxes clean. There are still various spam runs and people see a bit more spam in their inboxes than normal, but for the most part the weaker players have been dislodged. You cannot offer email services today without offering some level of spam protection. Nobody would sign up for it because it would render the email service functionally useless.
My problem is that I voluntarily signed up to receive regular, snail-mail spam from American Express. For you see, they gave me a deal that was too good to pass up. About a year ago or so, I signed up to receive a credit card from them. Being a Canadian citizen, it’s hard to get credit cards because I had no credit history when I moved to the country (which can work for you and against you). So when Amex let me know that I was pre-approved, and I could get travel points, I signed up for it. Travel points are the one reward that is worth it to me because if I am going to travel anyhow, I may as well get travel points.
Well, about six weeks ago I got another promotion in the mail from Amex. It sounded too good to be true. Apparently, if I signed up to receive 12 issues of their “Travel and Leisure” magazine, they would give me a travel voucher to fly anywhere in the continental United States, a buy-one-get-one-free deal. Furthermore, I could cancel my 1-year subscription to this magazine after two months and pay an effective charge of something like $5. $5 for a ticket worth $500-$600? “Hmm,” I said. “What’s the catch?”
I went and read the Terms and Conditions in the offer. I then went to the website and did the same. I read them both over three times. Then I got my girlfriend to read it over. I couldn’t find a catch anywhere. The Terms and Conditions spelled out everything I said above. If I signed up for this, then I could cancel my subscription after two months (they must assume that I won’t) and then they will send me a travel voucher to fly anywhere in the continental US if I purchase another ticket of equal value. I decided to move forward on it. I like to travel and my girlfriend can come with me to these various places so I decided to move forward on it.
However, I finally figured out what the catch was. Since I signed up for the offer, Amex now feels free to send me all sorts of deals in the mail. “You could win $1,000,000!” Or “Buy these things! Aren’t they a fantastic deal?” They are actually quite annoying because they stuff up my mailbox and I only check my snail mail once per week. And none of these things interest me. And there’s no unsubscribe anywhere that I can see (not that I check it because I toss ‘em in the trash). But yet I still get them every week, sometimes multiple times per week.
I know where I got them from, I signed up for it. I did it to myself. It’s just like if someone gets a spam in their email inbox and responds to it by buying something, they then get him with tons of more spam. Well, in that case they did it to themselves. So I guess I shouldn’t complain and that the price of a free ticket is getting a bunch more useless junk in the mail from Amex. But man, do I ever wish that my snail mail had a software spam filter instead of a manual one (i.e., me). But what was I supposed to do? Turn down a free airline ticket? Nuts to that!
Curse Amex and their alluring offers and their subsequent annoying offers! Maybe I will phone them up and tell them to stop sending me something. Of course, the drawback there is that they might actually offer me something that I want. It’s happened before. Do I chance it that it may happen again?