Bad unsubscribe processes

We recently renewed our support contract with VMWare. It’s a weirdly complicated system, in that we can’t buy directly from VMWare, but have to buy through one of their resellers. In this case, we purchased the original hardware from Dell, so we renewed our contract through Dell.

Dell sends my email address over to VMWare as part of the transaction.

My only role in this is as CFO. I approve the purchase and pay the bill. I don’t do anything technical with the license.

The email failures start when VMWare decides that I need to receive mail about some user group meetings they’re holding all over the US. First off, I’m not the right person to be sending this mail to inside our company. I’m the billing contact, not the user contact. Then, they send me mail about meetings all over the US, when they know exactly where I’m located. Would it be so hard to do a semi-personalized version that highlighted the meetings in my local area then pointing out the other locations? Apparently, yes, it is so hard.

The biggest failures, though are in the unsubscribe process.
unsubscribe option

The unsubscribe page is no big deal. I get to unsub from all VMWare communications, and submit that request without having to figure out what my VMWare password is or anything.

After I hit submit, I’m taken to this page.

VMWareThank you

Wait? What?

“Thank you for registering?” I didn’t register! I don’t want you to contact me. Plus, this is a HP co-branded page when I’m not a customer of HP. VMWare knows this, they know they got my address from Dell.

The biggest problem is that I’m not sure that my address was actually unsubscribed. I suspect that someone copied a form from elsewhere on the site to use as an unsubscribe form. This person forgot to change the link after the “submit” button was clicked. But what else did they forget to change? Is the unsubscribe actually registered in the database?

I suppose only time will tell if VMWare actually processed my unsubscribe. If they didn’t they’re technically in violation of CAN SPAM.

The lesson, though, is someone should check unsubscribe forms. Someone in marketing should own the unsubscribe process, and that includes confirming that unsubscribe pages work well enough.

1 comment

  1. John L says

    They wouldn’t be “technically” in violation, they’d be grossly, egregiously in violation.

    Having read CAN SPAM, I’m pretty sure that it is not a defense to be too incompetent to manage your own lists.


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