You are here Spam, Or, How NOT to Design an Opt-Out System

A particular company has me on their mailing list, and they're now using to send messages, rather than their own system. In light of recent problems with spoofed emails that try to appear like e-card web sites, I just make a habit of never opening e-cards from anyone except a very few select family members.

No problem, I thought: just visit the web site and follow their clearly-written opt-out instructions at... um... ah...

Well, drat, there ain't any!

OPT OUT in Large, Unfriendly Letters

So, I submitted the following after searching their site and hitting the "This Answer did not help me" button:

I wish to NEVER receive ecards from; I wish to OPT OUT completely of your system. Where can I OPT OUT of

Then, a reply...


Thank you for contacting Customer Support.

An automated message has been sent to you. You must reply to the email in order for your address to be blocked. Please keep in mind that this address will be unable to send or receive ecards from our site.

Should you choose not to respond to this notification, please be advised that cannot be held legally responsible for the unauthorized use of your email address if the problem continues.

Thank you,
Christine C
Your Customer Support Representative

Neat! Too bad they didn't have a form particularly for this feature, but maybe that's on the horizon.

Not So Fast...

Then, another email from [email protected] :

From: <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>

To confirm and finalize your request to STOP EMAIL ADDRESS USE from for [email protected] , follow these instructions:

1) Click on your email REPLY button
2) Send the email message

Once we receive your confirmation, greetings will no longer be sent or received from the above mentioned email address within 3 business days.

If at any time you wish to use this email address again on, please contact

So it appears that if you want to opt-out from American Greetings e-card spam, you just email [email protected]. I wonder why I could not find that anywhere on their web site?

I replied. Moments later, the answer:

From: Mail Delivery System <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2007 12:19:45 -0500
Subject: Delivery failure notification

With reference to your message with the subject:

The local mail transport system has reported the following problems it encountered while trying to deliver your message:

*** [email protected]
550 5.1.1 <[email protected]>... User unknown

Your mail message is being returned to you in the next part of this message.

Should you need assistance, please mail [email protected].

Skull, Meet Brick Wall; Wall, Skull

So, replying to aghelp ([email protected]) I sent this:

When I replied to the email, it bounced.

[email protected] does not exist. It's apparently been this way since June 2007, based on

Can you provide an alternative?

... to be continued...