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eBay : Where "Opt-out" Means "Keep Trying" 300

Cadrys writes "Like anybody tired of spam, junk mail, and telemarketers, I opted out of all of the above when I signed onto eBay. Today I got this letter (text below) where they decided--for me--to reset my preferences. " I got the same letter today, which really irritated me. I had *purposfully* said no to most of the "notifications", and just because I haven't opted in to what they want doesn't mean they have the right to change my preferences. I mean, that's why they are my preferences. So, today, eBay lost at least me as customer. .

<Quoted letter follows>

Dear cadrys,

Several times a month, eBay sends out valuable email communications with news, offers and special events that help you buy and sell. Unfortunately, we have noticed that an error occurred during your registration process that prevented you from receiving these communications. Many of your Notification Preference defaults were set to "no" rather than to "yes", which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications.

We'd like to resolve this problem quickly and efficiently. Therefore, on 1/8/01, we returned all your Notification Preferences to the standard default of "yes" to put you in line with the rest of the eBay community. However, we want you to choose your Notification Preferences rather than rely on our standard defaults and will therefore not include you in any communications until 1/23/01. This will provide you with some time to evaluate these choices and modify your Notification Preferences. You will, however, continue to receive certain administrative emails that are part of executing your eBay transactions.

<Quote ends>"

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eBay : Where "Opt-out" Means "Keep Trying"

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  • Maybe you're right, maybe the preferences were destroyed after the registration process. If that's the case, though, eBay is lying about it, because they say in the email that the error occurred during the registration process. I guess we get a choice of lies: either they lied when they offered the users the opt-out choice, or they're lying now about the reason for which they've reset the users' preferences to "Spam Lover".
  • Deleting obvious spam only takes a few seconds, but we have to do it over and over, day after day, forever amen.

    Plus there are still some people without fat pipes. Add in the cumulative time it takes to download all that shit.

    Then there are those times when we're concentrating on code or whatever over on screen four, but expecting an important email. Whatever indicates that you've got mail, so you break your concentration, switch to screen one and read "Get rich quick by flogging your dog in the privacy of your own home" or some such shit. It would be as if some dirtbag kept knocking on your door, at random, for no reason, every freaking day, for ever and ever.

    Add it all up. That's a lot of time stolen from our lives by bastards who will never have to answer for it. Maybe I've just been online for too many years but I could murder a spammer in cold blood this morning and sleep well tonight, knowing that I had done the human race a favor.

    For all of that, when people you know use bad email etiquette [], it's even more annoying.

  • In fact, eBay had more than a drive die. They had a whole mess of problems [] lately; see the message at that link beginning with "Letter from Meg". Entire systems and their spares all going crunch.

    I've got those options all off at eBay as well, and I've just gone and checked and they're still all off, and I've received no mail. Hey, maybe they were telling the truth! But that doesn't make a very good story.

    My favorite part is the bit about eBay not having a right to do that. IDT"right"MWYTIM.

  • Looks like somebody forgot a WHERE statement and updated everybodies colums with a Y instead of what they used to be ..

    Nice way to try and cover it tho ...

    He's having a nice time at work.

  • The issue is having to worry about them doing this more in the future. Now, I do think its a bit reactionary to drop them for one instance of this, as it may well be some legit problem, but if it were to occur repeatedly?
    See my previous comment [] regarding this behavior being well-documented by members of It has happened in the past, it's still happening.

    If it looks like pink meat, smells like pink meat, then it must be spam!
  • Here's my (somewhat edited) original post to a 'well known' anti-spam list about my experience with this. For the non-spam-savvy, note also the first line of the spam itself (last line of this message) - a "web bug" tracking link which will notify ebay if the spam was received - without the user's permission. We should not put up with spam from big companies (mainsleaze) any more than we should spam from 'make money fast' fly-by-night spammers. This professional bulk mailer (not ebay) is already listed on ORBS.

    Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2001 10:00:16 -0800
    Sender: Spam Prevention Discussion List [munge]
    From: Julian Haight <[munge]>
    Subject: SPAM: ebay's "preferences campaign"

    I just got a response to a spam report I filed because ebay "forgot" my no-spam preferences again. I thought it was interesting that attached to the "fix it yourself" form letter (we won't stop spamming until you change your prefs back again) was this little note, apparently added by someone at the bulk-for-hire site as they forwarded the complaint on to ebay:

    "Another spam complaint from the preferences campaign."

    I found it particularly interesting that they are referring to it as the "preferences campaign". This is probably old news to most, but I don't think ebay can really deny they're spamming.

    Happy new year all - I think 2001 will be the year of mainsleaze.

    (spamcop owner/admin)

    For reference:

    [snip to avoid slashdot's lame "lameness filter"]
    From: eBay SPAMMED Mail <>
    If you would not like to receive notices about special offers, promotions, and other such notices please change your notification preferences. To do this first go to this web page and login:
    James P. S.
    eBay Senior Customer Support Representative
    Original Message Follows:

    Another spam complaint from the preferences campaign.

    From: Julian Haight []

    [snip to avoid slashdot's lame "lameness filter"]
    Subject: Important Information from eBay
    From: "eBay Announcements"
    We'd like to resolve this problem quickly and efficiently. Therefore, on 12/19/00, we returned all your Notification Preferences to the standard default of "yes" to put you in line with the rest of the eBay community.

    <BODY> <IMG SRC='*munge*?con f=1&Unique_ID=eBay_conf_user' BORDER=0 HEIGHT=1 WIDTH=1>
  • I just love a good post that generalizes every /. geek out there. Thanks pal. Never mind that I *don't* go to the movies, *won't* buy DVDs until the DeCSS fiasco is over, and I will stop using eBay if I get that email. No big loss for me, I have plenty of other "shiny new things" to keep me occupied. Don't try to make yourself feel better about your own weak will by claiming everyone suffers from the same affliction.

  • OK. So they reset the preferences to try to get you receiving the mail they want you to get. At least they had the courtesy to e-mail you and tell you, thus giving the option to opt out again if you choose. They even reminded you that it ought to be your choice.

    If this happened again in another couple months or even in the next year, I think there would be cause to complain, but balancing their desire for e-mailing you against your desire not to get it, this seems like a reasonable approach. They want to mail you, they warn you they'll start, if it's important enough, you set your preferences to stop it again.

    It's fun to bash, but remember all the companies that change policies or release data without giving any warning. Consider this one a victory for corporate responsibility.


  • Hmm... when I got mine today it sounded like they thought there was some error in their system that didn't even present me the option of opting-out and so defaulted to 'no'.

    To be honest, I don't remember - it was a while ago that I first signed up. If I did opt out, and now I have a couple weeks to opt-out again - it's not really that big a deal, is it? It would be different if they re-sent every e-mail they think I was supposed to get over the last six months. They reset my prefs to receive, they are going to hold off until 1/23 to start sending mail, and it took me a total of 15 seconds to go to my prefs page and turn them all off again.

    How exactly is this evil enough to be a /. story

    Egghead sent me a nice mail saying noone every really got my credit card even though 7300 people have reported fraud on their cards after the egghead crack, but /. doesn't think that is news?
  • Okay, on the off chance that you're serious, I'll bite.

    Whatever you do, please do not respond to spam via email. I noticed your page gave other options like customer service numbers and faxes, and that's great. But if you reply to spam, it just confirms that there's a real, live person reading this email and gaurantees that you'll be kept on the list.

    Furthermore, many times spammers spoof addresses, and some innocent sap could get your flaming responses. A lot of good that would do...

  • I have recieved the same email many others have, from ebay about the offers they did not sign up for, and I too shall terminate my E-Bay account. i encourage others to do the same until E-Bay Realizes that when you opt-out, they should stay the hell out. If incidences like this are allowwed to continue, we may be forced to read page after page of junkmail we decided not to get in the first place. This is not the future I look forward to. Even if you do not recieve this email, unite with the others and boycott E-Bay until an official apology is made.
  • What the fsck are you talking about? Did I say information wants to be free? Have you found postings to that effect on my user page? Idiot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:58AM (#519871)
    Quoted letter follows


    Dear Floridian Voter,

    Every four years, the Government holds an election. Unfortunately, we at the Democratic Party have noticed that an error occurred during your voting process which may have prevented you from voting Democrat. Your Voting Preference was "Republican" rather than "Democrat", which means that Al Gore was not receiving your vote.

    We'd like to resolve this problem quickly and efficiently. Therefore, on 11/8/00, we began reinterpreting all your Voting Preferences to the standard default of "Democrat" to put you in line with the rest of our community.

    However, we want you to choose your Voting Preferences rather than rely on our standard defaults and will therefore not include you in any communications until the next election. This will provide you with some time to evaluate these choices and modify your Voting Preferences. Your November Vote will, however, continue to be counted for Al Gore in our continuing recount effort.

  • Ebay's problems: EBay Crashes for Nearly 11 Hours [] - January 4, 2001, 5:19 AM PST .
  • Won't work. Most respectable mailing lists, unlike ebay, use double opt-in. Ebay is one of those that seem to use double opt-out :)

  • what's that? our email list isn't big enough?

    UPDATE userprefs SET spam=1

    oops, I forgot the where clause, oh well it must have been a registration error

  • AOL and a few other places have been doing this for years. I mention AOL because, unlike eBay, they are equally famous for not informing the users of the changes made.
  • Egghead sent me a nice mail saying noone every really got my credit card even though 7300 people have reported fraud on their cards after the egghead crack, but /. doesn't think that is news?

    The crucial question is whether 7300 out of several million is out of line with typical rates of reported credit card fraud. I understood the Egghead letter to be saying that it wasn't out of line, and that therefore there's no evidence yet of a problem.
  • HAHA, anyone who has ever screwed up and forgotten the WHERE clause has to appreciate this. Except me of course... I have never done that, really.
  • And later... "Thank you for letting us know whether or not you would like to have sex. Your preference has been recorded. Please note that it may take 14 days for us to decide whether or not we heard you. In the meantime, let's screw."
  • Doesn't it seem that as companies grow larger and larger, they feel they can be more and more liberal with thier customers and expect to get away with it?
  • I cannot blame Ebay for 'errors' with their system, which sounds pretty bogus to me from the way the email was written, but I can blame them for poor customer service.

    But who can blame them. Most of the tech stock market and the brand new corporate websites are taking a severe beating on The Street. Now is the time for desperate measures, because most of the dot-coms out there won't last through the end of 2001. So what Ebay did is completely typical of the current dot-com struggle to stay alive.

    So what do we do as consumers? Well, like Smith&Wesson (who thought trying to implement an unpopular, at least with their customers, child safety lock on all new handguns they made) would solve their problems with both the pro-guns and anti-guns groups, they instead ended up hurting themselves by doing so. They disregarded what their paying customer's really wanted and needed from their company. Their sales this year were down (15% or more, I think), and it was because most of their customers didn't agree with their actions.

    So in regards to Ebay, we don't have to go marching around Washington all day and night to get the point out that spam is bad. Just quietly sign off of Ebay and go elsewhere. They'll get the picture soon enough, or they'll lose profits quickly. (And in this dot-com survival game right now, not getting the picture soon enough results in no more company).

  • if you read the privacy policy, it'll become very apparent to you that they are not in buisiness in the interest of the customer... and it has always been that way.
    .e. []
  • Yes, I understand what eBay did. However, the result of these actions are just one e-mail message to delete and a little bit of time spent setting their profile back. Sure, it wasn't right, but eBay wouldn't dare try it again. Especially since most of the users who got the e-mail will just revert to their original mail-box friendly settings.

    I don't see why it's worth a Slashdot story and so much venom. It would be a bigger issue if every user of eBay was going to be spammed into oblivion effective immediately. You won't recieve eBay spam until 1/23.

    Now, if they do it again, I'll be happy to change my song. Another eBay spam and I will personally be the first to suggest crucifixion of the genius behind this situation.
  • First off, they're giving you time to re-opt-out of the mailings. They are not sending any mail to you (despite re-setting all of the choices to "yes") until you have passed the date by which you can set your choices back to "no". That's fair warning.

    Second, even if they pull this on you every month, you still have a choice of opting out, and besides, that's one email instead of the 50-100 you would have gotten per month if you would have kept the options set to "yes".

    I can deal with this. Even monthly. eBay is THE auction site on the Internet, and to date I have had 0 bad experiences with them (one idiot that sold me a hands-free kit for my mobile phone pocketed 80% of what I paid for shipping and then sent my item in the slowest, cheapest manner possible, but that's my only beef; every other experience I've had with eBay has been stellar).

    Spam mail sucks, and I'd like to see it go away. However, my anti-spam measures are not quite as extreme as those of others. I do not kid myself into thinking I can just opt out of junk email any more than I think I can opt out of junk snail mail. Unless you pick up and move, then don't leave any kind of trail leading to where you went, it's impossible to shake this stuff. I can fight it and get pissed off over and over again, or I can meet these spammers half way and control the flood.

    I'll opt for control.

  • I have all of my preferences set to "NO" on eBay. If I get this email today (like a few other people that I talk to have) I will be suspending my account as well...

  • They altered your preferences, and started sending you unsolicited mail? That's got to be against some privacy/spam law somewhere.

    Alternatively, why not complain to SpamCop []? It is technically unsolicited mail...

  • If you aren't running your own mail server you might not get the total satisfaction of giving them an SMTP protocol error, but dropping their mail unceremoniously into a bit bucket is certainly still worthwhile.

    You can still send a fake bounce message.

  • Kinda like the "confirm before you delete this read-only file" option... they want to make sure that the people who need this the most don't just kill the communication without knowing what it is...

    I'm sure there is a valid reason for doing this, but I've not gotten this email, and I know I opted-out of third party emails...

    It's still not /spam/... you did sign up, and maybe they updated the information they are sending in these emails and want everyone to give it a try... but this probably isn't the most "slashdot-friendly" way to go about it, but most of their users probably suffer from the "flashing 12:00 syndrome" and never bother to change the defaults and this is what they were hoping for...

    At least they did warn you they changed settings....

  • they're affraid that the preferences you set initially did not actually reflect you, the voter ^H^H^H^H^H^H^customer's true intention. so they're going to give you the opportunity to to try again and again until the selections they^H^H^H^H^H you really intended is assured. it's all in the interest of fairness of course.
  • by Fervent ( 178271 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @09:54AM (#519889)
    So, today, eBay lost at least me as customer. .

    Not me. The cost-value ratio of selling stuff on eBay still continues to be the best I've ever seen. I've reached dozens of buyers for used computer equipment easily and cheaply.

    You have to the weigh the sheer convenience of getting good money for your stuff (without going through a middleman) vs. a single irritating email. If their service is strong enough, which it is, I can let this one go.

  • by somethingwicked ( 260651 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @11:08AM (#519890)
    I don't think this line of reasoning would work in court very well:

    Yes, Your Honor, She said "NO!" to all my come-ons.

    But most of the other girls I have asked have said YES, so her answer MUST have been an error.

    So I just put her in line with the rest of the community...and well, you know

  • I got one also. I replied with a very nasty letter and a threat to report them to MAPS and ORBS. If I receive anything else from them, I will definitely stop using them and happily report them to the blackhole lists.

    When people say "don't send me any shit", it means "don't send me any shit". I guess they don't really know what that means.
  • I have a problem with our terms here. We need to stop calling this spam. It's not spam because you gave them your email address. True, you asked them not to send you any email, but you still gave them your address, knowing that if the situation warranted it they would be able to send you mail. Well, the situation warranted it (in their minds) so they sent you mail.

    It's annoying, but it's not spam. It's just you doing business with a company who sometimes conducts business in a way you find irritating.

    That's very different from someone you don't know mining your email address to send you mail on topics they have no idea whether or not you will be interested in, purely for the sake of profiting on the 1/100,000th customer.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @09:54AM (#519893)
    This is kind of like when that Hot Babe opts out of a torrid sexual encounter at your place. You wait five minutes, quaff another brewsky, and ask again.

  • here is a message you sent to a customer about resetting his prefs:

    Dear cadrys,

    Several times a month, eBay sends out valuable email communications with news, offers and special events that help you buy and sell. Unfortunately, we have noticed that an error occurred during your registration process that prevented you from receiving these communications. Many of your Notification Preference defaults were set to "no" rather than to "yes", which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications.

    We'd like to resolve this problem quickly and efficiently. Therefore, on 1/8/01, we returned all your Notification Preferences to the standard default of "yes" to put you in line with the rest of the eBay community. However, we want you to choose your Notification Preferences rather than rely on our standard defaults and will therefore not include you in any communications until 1/23/01. This will provide you with some time to evaluate these choices and modify your Notification Preferences. You will, however, continue to receive certain administrative emails that are part of executing your eBay transactions

    I Scott Larson, really do not appearicate resetting someones prefs without their permission, the whole point of user prefs is to make your own decisions about what spam mail you do and do not want. please contact me on your resolution with this issue, what you plan on doing in the future, because if this is the attiude your company has on users and their prefs then I do not want to be apart of it and will be terminating my account. If I do not receive a response in one week, I will be contacting your company by other means.

    Scott Larson
    Sonic solutions

  • They evidently changed mine without even giving me the courtesy of an email about it. I just checked and found all of my prefs set to "Yes" (at least the spam-related stuff.) I just love the line that popped up after I submitted the changes: "Your preferences have been saved. Please note that changes to your preferences may take approximately 14 days to be reflected in our communication to you." Still, where else can you go? No other auction house has as much stuff for sale or as many potential buyers for whatever you are trying to sell. :|
  • You obviously have failed to fully click through on your preferences in violation of our acceptable use [] policy therefor we are going to chose for you...

  • You know, if I were a troll, I'd be in hog heaven. this is typical slashdot knee-jerk BS.

    I finally signed up for an ebay account a few weeks ago.

    And I didn't receive this e-mail.

    Is it possible, just for a second, that, God forbid, they're telling the truth, and some mysterious "error" DID occur when you signed up?

    Imagine this: monthly (annual, bi-annual, first, whatever) audit shows that for the users that created accounts from the period of A to B, there is an abnormal number of users who selected to recieve no communications at all. After a bit of checking it turns out that sure enough, there was a problem. So now you have this block of thousands of users whose communications preferences you don't know. What do you do?

    Ignore it? Yeah, the PHBs will love that.

    Send an e-mail explaining that there was an error, and ask them to review their 'communication preferences'? Won't work, because folks like my Mom will get lost, quickly.

    Send an e-mail explaining that there was an error, set them back to defaults, and apologize? This, to me, seems like the best option, because if you turned the settings off, then you obviously wanted them off, and will go through the trouble to turn them off again. Unlike my mom, who doesn't know one way or the other.

    Suck it up, folks.

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @11:13AM (#519903) Homepage
    The reason that you hear a lot of that sort of "they just lost me!" grandstanding is two-fold:

    For one thing, people, especially geeks, are extremely loath to admit their own powerlessness and inefficacy in a situation. Even the passing gesture of non-consumption, as inauthentic and short-lived as it is, seems like a response of some sort. The fact that most of us are essentially at the whim of the big players of the system in which we choose to participate is an uncomfortable one.

    The second reason is political - the libertarian credo is that the market will resolve all such behaviors. Admitting that the market couldn't do so in any given situation would be a sort of sacrilige, and could lead to such horrors as the European privacy legislations, trade practice controls and other frightening instances of useful public policy.

  • You're wrong. There was no error. This was purposeful. I got this email as well. Do you know what it says on their website when changing preferences back? "May take up to two weeks for changes to be applied" Do you know what two of the options are that were changed to "YES" are??? "Sell my information to junk mailers" and "Sell my information to telemarketers"

    I am incensed that ebay did this. If I get a single ebay type ad from anyone I'm calling them if I can find a number on their site.

    In the unlikely chance there was actually an error, ebay should have given warning of the change to allow for confirmation that my settings were in order.

  • It must be true, since I got an email from them that started out "as one of our best customers we'd like to offer you ... blahblahblah...".

    The only time I ever visited their site was when I followed a direct link to:
    BadKitty stuff [].
  • It'll happen eventually...

    Dear eBay customer,

    Our service allows netizens to bid for various items via auction. This allows them to buy rare items if they place a bid higher than other users' bids. Unfortunately, we have noticed that you have not placed a bid in the past few weeks.

    Effective immediately, we have placed and won numerous bids using the credit card information we have on your file. You shall be billed for them within the month. We hope you enjoy using eBay!

    -eBay Support


  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @02:51PM (#519927) Homepage
    However, many defenders of the libertarian credo imply that either some optima will be achieved by market pressures, or that a viable alternative will always be created in the market. At its most basic, this overlooks network effects and entry barrier costs. Network effects are especially powerful in more technologically advanced markets - if 80 percent of your infrastructure already relies on a vendor, platform, or standard, producers which don't have access to those standards will not be able to offer a viable choice, and a consumer will not be reasonably able to avoid sourcing from those producers. Just like the only way to avoid taxes is to live a below-the-poverty-line Unabomber-like existence in the woods, the only way to completely step out of the emerging lock-in of proprietary systems, platforms, and protocols is to simply buy nothing: in terms of the practical demands of day to day life, it isn't really an option.

    Ironically, you've mentioned an example for which real-life free-market analogs exist. Even if you don't use a microsoft product, you pay the "Microsoft tax" for systems from well over 95% of the vendors (the exceptions are out of the mainstream market, and due to economies of scale often not even any cheaper) because of the dynamics of contractual agreements between producers - no government involved. Unlike the public sector, where you can actually vote and even run for a seat on the school board 9and probably win,) there is virtually no chance of you being able to change the relationships between the Microsofts and Dells and Intels and Compaqs and IBMS and the like.

  • No, they altered his preferences and have "given" him about 2 weeks to change them back before they go into effect. Underhanded and wrong, sure.

    Come on, how can you question this?

    After all, Ebay is, like, one of ten Dot-Coms that is financially viable and one of two that actually turns a profit.

    How can you question their motives?

    If ya want this Internet thing ta work, mebbe that's a part of it all.

    Just as long as they don't send *me* a notice like that.

    ...[Eudora plays a bar from Ren and Stimpy's The Log]...

    <sigh> Okay. Let's get them. A boycott is in order.

  • This isn't spam mail that they are setting back to yes. This is the notifications that you have been outbid, your auction has ended, and your invoice has been processed. I'm sure that they have an autocheck that puts these back to keep customers from missing valuable communications and not spam.

    I haven't receieved anything unwanted from eBay, the only time I get mail from them is these notifications that i've been out bid, my invoice was processed, an auction ended etc...

    I think the person who wrote this in isn't reading to what exactly these prefrences send them, and they are trying to make eBay seem spam friendly...

    Just my two cents...

  • As worded, they're not doing anythiing illegal (though IANAL...just one in training). Look at the message again:

    "Many of your Notification Preference defaults were set to "no" rather than to "yes", which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications."

    This is saying that when you registered, their registration form was screwed up, and the default settings on items was "no". Then they realize the error, and notice that, oddly enough, everything is set to "no". So they wonder (in pure self-interest, but if you expect anything more of them you're an idiot) if maybe you did accept the defaults blindly, in which case you'd be saying "yes" to everything. So they change the settings and send you an email, because if you really want everything set to "no", you can go reset everything how you want it.

    And I know that this may seem an invasion of your privacy here, or a violation of their policies, but it really isn't; there was an error in the defaults, and you chose settings that were remarkably in line with what those erroneous defaults were. They can't find out if you wanted it some other way, because as the settings stand, they can't send you an email to find out. So they err on the side of finding out what really happened, change your settings so they can email you, and then email you.

    Is this legal? Probably. Does it violate any policies anywhere? Probably not. Is it rife with possibilities for abuse? Yeah, and that sucks. Is it simply an act of blatant self-interest? Yeah, but they're a corporation and we're a capitalistic society. If you want them to do something else, become a business ethics consultant.

  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @11:33AM (#519948)
    If they reset your preferences, and THEN told you, isn't this a violation of their privacy policy? Presumably they did this because they had a really big customer looking to buy their email list, and so they reset everyone's preferences, sold the list, and then let people switch back. So can't Ebay get caught in a class action suit for contract violation?
  • The Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service is like that. You have to tell them every few years to turn you off again.
  • Damn, there goes my theory. And I was so hoping to free our language of one awkward construct. Damn you, wolves, for injecting real-world complexity into a nice theory!
  • May I recommend that instead of abandoning Ebay, you pester them to help you? If you walk away, your message is lost in the noise.
    Why not phone them and ask them to honor your preferences? They will tell you to go to a certain web page, etc., but tell them 'I already did that and your mail says an error occurred. So I want you to do it for me.'
    The cost of handling a single support call is more than they'd make from spamming 1000 people.
  • Sorry to be pedantic, but I think the expression son-of-a-female-dog is redundant. Barring outlandish genetic experiments and test tube puppies, anyone who is the son of a dog is necessarily the son of two dogs, a stud and a bitch.
    Horses mate with asses to produce mules, but I haven't heard of dogs mating with any other species to produce offspring.
    So in the future you can say son-of-a-dog or maybe just dogson.

  • You know, the people that just totally turn off their brain when they sit in front of a computer?

    You know, like my roommate's girlfriend, who enters your e-mail address into every one of these stupid little websites that sends you a card and sells the collected list of addresses?

    "Oh, look! It's a picture of a puppy sleeping on a sofa! And the caption is so funny! Oh, that's so cute! I have to send that to Lawrence, even though he's a cat person, he's like that so much!"

    <sigh> She complains about the amount of spam she gets, and yet she merrily enters her real unobfuscated e-mail address into every website, newsgroup, *everything*. She hasn't yet made the connection.

    And she's on her last year of some sort of computer diploma from some community college. Of course, it's not because she has any interest or aptitude in computers, it's because she can make "so much money" in computers. Jesus wept.

    And, no, I didn't just discover the HTML <i> tag. That's really how she talks.

  • by Grab ( 126025 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @09:56AM (#519968) Homepage
    Nice to see that selecting "no" is an error! :-) What's next then? Maybe they'll have a "no" option in the sign-up, but when you click "Submit", it'll come up with "Error - you failed to fully sign up for mailbox-clogging shite. Please try again."

  • Yeah, maybe my $1,000,000 bid will actually be just an error from now on.

    That might be the solution. What if a few hundred people sent Ebay email saying in effect, "your preferences on have been accidentally set to 'No test bids'. We are turning them back on so you can be the same as the rest of the community. If you want to opt out, etc. We will randomly place a test bid of approx. 1,000,000 on several thousand auctions a day."
    Turnabout is fair play.
  • As always, sneakemail [] becomes handy.

    Sneakemail gives you the control over your email-address back - it lets you decide who gets to send you email. If somebody screws you (by sending spam, etc.), you just cancels that email-address.

    Greetings Joergen
  • While I remember opting out of everything (as the only good spam is that in a ziploc baggie with an m-150 firecracker tied to your enemy's light socket..), I never got this message.

    They at least gave you time to reset your preferences- I get the impression that possibly a file system went corrupt, so they just reset everyone's profiles to their ideal profile, and then let you reset it if you wanted to (but prayed you let them send spam.)

    Ebay's been good to me- recently had to appeal a non-paying bidder warning where the putz had an invalid email address and never contacted me, and they responded quickly, professionally, etc.

    Anyone had any other bad experiences with Ebay itself? Or good ones? Almost everyone I know is fairly impartial...
  • I think that this is another of where some (gasp!) government regulation is required in regards to privacy on the Internet.

    Government should not dictate specific policies in regards to what companies can or cannot do with customer information, but should require that companies doing business on the Web create their own policies and post them in "laymen's terms" on their Web site. Companies should be obligated to link to this policy as well as other Terms and Conditions on all pages of a site, or at the very least on all pages that request users for personal information or that allow a user to consummate a transaction. There should be some standard elements in regards to what a policy must address: use of cookies, "web bugs" and other automated tracking devices; how databases containing credit card numbers, e-mail addresses and other user-provided information are accessed, stored, and protected; to whom and under what circumstances this information can be provided to third parties.

    I feel that the government should not dictate privacy policy, but must enforce whatever policy is generated by the private sector. For example, if General Motors were to not pay to repair a broken transmission on a 2000 Chevrolet with 5000 miles on it, the owner of that car could take GM to court. The owner would show the warranty stating that all major parts of the car were guaranteed for 3 years and 36,000 miles, and since the car was bought with the understanding that GM would honor this warranty for the stated term, the judge would order GM to pay for the required repairs. Yet the government has to this date done very little to make sure promises made by web sites like "we'll never sell or give out your e-mail address or credit card information" are upheld. Since promises like these are crucial to many online transactions, it is imperitive that the government step in and make sure these promises are kept and punish violators harshly enough to deter future violations.

    Moreover, the government should give consumers recourse in the event that a company's privacy policy change. Customers should be given the right to insist that all information given to the company under previous privacy policies be removed on pain of serious fines and other penalties. Granted, enforcing such a regulation may be difficult, but many reputable companies would comply, and most others would follow if a violator were to receive a multi-million dollar fine from a judge.

    Those who are completely against government regulation would say that consumers will reward those companies with the "best" privacy policies with their business and walk away from those with less favorable policies. If all companies were honest in their policies and these policies were permanent, then I would tend to agree with this viewpoint. However, without some recourse against a bait-and-switch tactic, consumers can get screwed. Sure, if a company suddenly says "the sale or distribution of all credit card information provided by our customers is fair game" in its privacy policy, people will probably stop shopping there. But what about everyone who bought from there before the change, under the assurance that their information would remain private? This company can still profit from these previous customers. Companies should not benefit from this type of exploitation, and without government intervention, there is little to ensure that these rogue companies can't benefit.

    The case is probably one of the most underreported privacy violations in some time. This is why I said before that the goverment should not only require companies to state when they release information to third parties, but also to detail the procedures they use to protect the information from being stolen. While I don't know statistics in regards to how frequently fraud occurs on credit cards, I would tend to believe the fact that 7300 cardholders reported possible fradulent activity out of 1.5 million or so is a coincidence; this is a rate of roughly 0.5 percent. If these figures are true, then I would believe that this fraudulent activity would have occurred regardless of whether these people shopped at However, the more important fact is that many more people's cards could have been affected, and that something needs to be done to ensure that another similar (and possibly more damaging) incident does not occur with another major commerce site.

    I hope that maybe as the more well-known companies like,, and Ebay are coming under fire for these sorts of privacy issues, people will start to take notice and demand that new legislation be passed to outlaw this sort of fraud or that existing statues are interpreted by the courts to cover privacy promises on the Web in the way that warranties and other promises are covered in the physical world.
  • Re-read the text:"Unfortunately, we have noticed that an error occurred during your registration process that prevented you from receiving these communications. Many of your Notification Preference defaults were set to "no" rather than to "yes", which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications."

    Notice they reference the defaults. They're not saying "Your lips say no, but your eyes say yes." They're saying "We didn't give you the oppurtunity to say yes or no, so for now we'll assume you meant "yes", but won't follow up on that assumption until you've had time to tell us what you meant."

    If this were anything more than them making sure their customers aren't "victims" of a system error, you'd expect *a lot* of people to get this email. I'm an eBay user, and I didn't get one. Neither did anyone I asked about this.

    I hardly see where this makes eBay into some evil nemesis. And it's sure as hell not stuff that matters.
  • Maybe--just maybe--eBay is telling the truth, and there was some kind of error that corrupted the preferences of some of their users. They set them back to default, and emailed them to let them know. They also instituted a grace period so that you would have time to change the preferences before being deluged with spam. A few people here have stated that they didn't receive the email, even though they had the "No spam" options selected. That kind of supports the limited preferences corruption theory.

    It's also possible that they're doing this as an experiment with a limited section of their customer base, to see how people react.

    Unfortunately, you don't know, so, until you do, don't overreact. Email them to find out why, instead of going nuts on them...
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @09:58AM (#519992) Homepage
    Unfortunately, we have noticed that an error occurred during your registration process

    An error? Oh, so de-selecting spam was an error on my part I guess...
    we returned all your Notification Preferences to the standard default of "yes" to
    put you in line with the rest of the eBay community

    Oh good, just what I wanted. Join the hive!


  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @12:50PM (#519994)

    Like many folks I have permanent Internet access, so I have a Linux box that acts a Firewall, fileserver, email host, etc, etc.

    Unlike most ISP's I get a static IP address, and have registered my own domain, so what I do is every time I have to give out my email for something, I invent a new email address and then just alias it to my real one which I keep secret. Take yesterday for example. I just got a new phone from CarPhoneWarehouse - they wanted an email address from me, so I invented "cpw1" and popped it in the aliases DB when I got home. This has two benefits:

    1) If I start getting SPAM addressed to "cpw1", then I know who the villain is who gave it away.

    2) All I have to do to stop it is to remove "cpw1" as an alias and they instantly hit the bit bucket.


  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @09:59AM (#519995) Homepage
    AP - Investors, having learned that Ebay is willing to engage in annoying practices that help them retain market presence, upgraded their price points for Ebay. At time of this press release Ebay's stock is up 9%.

    In other news, Ebay CEO Meg Whitman took a break from the work involved in attempting to become the Asian Internet Auction leader, to cry over the loss of one customer.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:10PM (#519997)
    The fact that most of us are essentially at the whim of the big players of the system in which we choose to participate is an uncomfortable one.

    Your mailbox is at the whim of any idiot with an internet connection. As long as a person's emotional well-being is linked to the contents of his mailbox, he is doomed to frequent bouts of anger. That's why I think the 'war on spam' is ultimately a dead end - there's always one more idiot ready to spam.
    The guy who wrote '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' (what's his name?) talks about reducing your circle of concern to match your circle of influence. You can control your mail server and filtering software; you can't control the internet.
    The MPAA executive has a heart attack because he can't control the spread of information on the internet. The geek has a heart attack because he can't control the flow of mail into his system.
    Maybe there's a parallel with household phones. In the 1970's it was normal that if you dialled a house a loud alarm-like bell went off, and the occupants dropped whatever they were doing and answered the caller. That worked until it was systematically abused by pranksters and telemarketers. Now the norm is for an answering machine to screen the call, and increasingly caller ID is required.
    Any protocol which allows you to make me jump via remote control is broken and will be exploited eventually.
  • ... on 1/8/01, we returned all your Notification Preferences to the standard default of "yes" to put you in line with the rest of the eBay community. However, we want you to choose your Notification Preferences rather than rely on our standard defaults and will therefore not include you in any communications until 1/23/01. This will provide you with some time to evaluate these choices and modify your Notification Preferences. You will, however, continue to receive certain administrative emails that are part of executing your eBay transactions.

    Sounds like an invitation to have MAPS black-hole them - maybe immediately, certainly after 1/23.

    But this is so blatantly improper that I can't help but wonder if it's a hoax. Has eBay offended someone who wants to give them grief? (Like maybe somebody in France who wants to collect WWII souvineers?)
  • This is at least the 4th, and perhaps the 5th time eBay has "ebayed" user preferences, according to the abuse desk at one of their upstreams.

    eBay has apparently done it to more victims this time around, however. I think preferences are going to be ebayed other places as well if eBay continues to get away with their lies.

    Hmm, would any speakers of colloquial Russian care to comment on the meaning of the term "ebayed"?


    eBay usually sends their spam through spammer-for-hire Annuncio, like they did this time. (For those sins, among others, Annuncio/ has lost email privileges on the servers I run.) However, eBay has also sent their 'survey' spams direct. It's those we still see here from time to time.
  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:00PM (#520009) Homepage Journal
    Reproduced here as formatted on eBay's sign-up form...

    Do you want to receive junk mail from eBay?

    No--> o
    o<- PattBuchannan
    Yes-> o

  • I just checked ebay to make sure my correct
    preferences were selected, and realized something about radio buttons.

    It is not per any HTML DTD spec to have a
    group of Radio Buttons in which no button
    is checked by default. I understand how
    inconvenient that spec may seem to some
    designers, but, if the implementation were
    to spec, this ambiguous situation of "No default button" would not have been possible.

  • I'm similar, too, with my settings. I also allow them to waste their money sending me eBay snail mail.

    But then, I haven't gotten a voluntary peep out of them other than the policy changes that happened last year and the bid/sell notices. No snail mail! They have the permission to do so. Maybe it's just that it costs money (or the family just throws it out anyway)...

    WolfSkunks for a better Linux Kernel

  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:02AM (#520018)
    ...that the Palm Beach County election board have found themselves a new job.
  • by MAJ Rantage ( 261356 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:02AM (#520022) Homepage Journal
    So, today, eBay lost at least me as customer. .
    Sure. Who are we kidding here?

    Technophiles are notoriously weak-willed when it comes to resisting the allure of the new, shiny, and automated. We may talk a good game, but the majority of us still buy CDs, go to movies, passively support the use of Microsoft products (even purchase them), etc. etc. etc.

    I'm sorry to be the cynical black cloud here, but "let's rage against everything corporate and wrong in this world" idealism has gotten tired. It's got heart, it's got courage, but it doesn't have a brain -- a brain that knows that Joe Consumer will repeatedly allow himself to be shat upon if he can get the Next Greatest Thing(TM).

    eBay won't suffer from this, and I wouldn't be surprised if you frequent their site again within a few months.
  • by LennyDotCom ( 26658 ) <> on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:02AM (#520024) Homepage Journal
    This doesn't apply to ebay but if you hate spam
    the bets thing to do is reply to it

    follow my sig. for details

  • I had signed up for bcentral when I started my website a couple of years ago so I could use the banner exchange system. I quit using it completely about a year ago. I got sick of the daily email "updates" (full of crap) and also unsubscribed from that - twice. After unsubscribing the first time, the "daily updates" stopped for about a month and then restarted. The second unsubscribe didn't even faze them.
  • by Cadrys ( 43897 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @01:24PM (#520028)
    Bzzt, wrong. The "preferences" in question were questions such as: (paraphrased from market-speak)

    --May we give out your phone number to telemarketers?
    --May we give out your street address to bulk mailers?
    --May we give out your email address to 3rd parties for spamming?

    AS WELL AS the options for "you've been outbid," "your auction has ended," etc. ALL of these preferences--both desirable and not--had been set to 'yes'

    So the person who sent this in [me] read exactly what the preferences sent them, and reacted accordingly.

    (and no, I haven't gotten "spam" from them before either, as I had already set these preferences before. Saying that "an error has occurred" to change them is FUD, pure and simple.)


  • And yet between the two adresses I get less than 30 pieces of spam a day. Either I have a real high tolerance for annoyances, or the oft-cited sources of spammers getting your email adress is wrong.

    Oh, no. 15 pieces of spam per e-mail box per day is not unreasonable. No. That's not a pain in the butt.

    Oddly enough, when I set up a spambucket adress at Yahoo!, even with very little use that box gets upwards of 50+ pieces of spam

    Yeah, I can't account for that experience, though. I get a few spams here and there through my Yahoo accounts, but it's not bad. Less than one in the average week. Fortunately, Yahoo has a Spam-Guard service as part of their e-mail. As long as you log in from the web access every week to make sure no important e-mails have accidentally been filtered that way, it's great.

  • by IanCarlson ( 16476 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:02AM (#520030) Homepage
    Many times, E-Bay's been a place for me to find junk that just can't be found in my neck of the woods. I think cancellation of your account is kind of an overreaction to the situation. E-Bay's given you the option of setting your preferences back to the way they were, and you won't recieve anything until 1/23, anyway. Set them back yourself, and if they perform a stunt like this again (which I don't think they will) then leave E-Bay.

    I think that E-Bay will be well aware of the anxiety this e-mail caused, and avoid situations such as these in the future.

  • by Thalia ( 42305 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:02AM (#520031)
    I believe the difference between your settings and mine may only be that I have the following two set to yes:

    Legal Notices

    User Agreement Changes
    Receive notice from eBay if the current User
    Agreement changes.

    Privacy Policy Changes
    Receive notice from eBay if the current Privacy
    Policy changes.

    I want to know if their policies change in either of those two areas. I don't want any other junkmail. And I didn't get one of those letters.

    But it is certainly odd that they'd assume it was an "error" especially if you've had these settings for some months.

  • Though I'm not a subscriber to Ebay's service, I've seen other people complain about this on Check out these discussions [] and you'll see that it's been a problem at least since early December 2000.

    The only difference between spammers and Ebay is that spammers are just a bit more ruthless.

  • Does her head bounce back and forth as she talks too? Sounds like a couple of women (and I use that term very loosely, insert loose joke here) I know too.

    You got it, Pontiac!

    She's 27 and has a 6-year-old son. She lives on welfare and drives a 1986 Beretta. Her dream car is a Chevrolet full-size pickup truck, but there ain't no way in hell she's gonna drive a GMC pickup truck.

    <sigh> At least she's trying to do something, though. She frustrates me, but at least she's trying to do something with her life.

    Not to be harsh, but the people that think they are going to get rich just because they have a "COMPUTER DEGREE" from some community college are precisely the people that aren't going to make any money. There are a lot of those 'degrees' that can be earned without learning anything more about computers than how to market speak computer jargon.

    This is at least part of why I've eschewed structured, formal education myself.

    I'm into computers because between them and my cars, they're the passions of my life. I'm also very much into professional and high end audio and video electronics, especially antique stuff.

    I contrast the fact that every spare moment, I'm doing something that has to do with one of those fields, to the community college type who has no original thoughts or even the instinctive understanding that most Slashdot readers would probably take for granted.

    A revelation to me is that I can finally use the old Chevette engine kicking around in the garage - to replace the worn-out Tecumseh on my 1973 Ariens snowblower. All it takes is to weld in a 7" stretch to the chassis between the blower and the drive subassembly, it's really cool, and it's cheaper than to replace the dual-shaft Tecumseh.

    A revelation to me is that, in high school, rather than writing a little Pascal program to make a Macintosh play Chopsticks as a mandated "Write a program to make the computer play music" assignment, I could hook three 5.25" full-height Shugart floppy disk drives to my trusty old TI-99/4A, and write an assembly language program to make them play Flight of the Bumblebees. In three part harmony. I got an A+, though the teacher wasn't happy about giving it to me. (And, I admit, I got help: I needed someone to translate the sheet music into frequencies and durations, since I don't know how to read sheet music.)

    A revelation is realizing that you *can* mass produce a surface-mount radar buffer board with the small production facilities at work and no real SMT assembly equipment by ...well, that's a secret. Non-disclosure agreement.

    To Jen, a revelation is that you need to put real-mode CD-ROM drivers onto your startup diskette before you format the hard drive and try to install Windows 95 from CD. (No, neither the Windows 95B edition, nor her motherboard, support a boot off CD-ROM.) Sure, when we've been new to any operating system, we've all done stupid things like this. But the astute *test* the machine's ability to workably boot prior to formatting the drive...

    I had a boss that was that way. Head of IT, yet he couldn't figure out the simplest of computer concepts without at least two of the help desk people there to tell him how to do it. But he had a DEGREE in computers, so he had to know what he was doing!

    Oh no, and in a position of power. That must have been a frustrating workplace.

    Listen, I like my boss. I don't like badmouthing him. But, let's face it, you need to, every now and then. This guy feels qualified to talk about computers. He's *literally* never done a clean install of Windows since he installed Windows 3.1. When Windows 95 came out, he upgraded. When that crashed, he actually spent the time to fix it. Then he bought Partition Magic, and mirrored it across to a bigger drive. Then a few years later, another bigger drive. Now, he's got probably the world's only Windows 2000 Professional system that is running in a 6 gigabyte drive under FAT16. I've never seen so many partitions in my life.

    Every time the computer hiccups (which is often, as you can imagine), he storms into my office, looking for some troubleshooting disk. My standard answer, of course, is that he should format the drive, reinstall Windows, and then his apps. Of course, he refuses: it'll take way too long. A whole morning, if he does it slowly. Then, he'll spend 2 days trying to get Windows to run without crashing, and consider himself to have come out ahead.

    He actually copied the entire registry out of my box once - even though our machines have nothing remotely similar in hardware or software.

    On one hand, the dogged determination is amazing. On the other hand, well... you know.

    He demanded root access to the Linux server I set up. I just told him that he had it. Sure enough, go through the history file on his account, and there are commands like "dir c:", "win", "scandisk c:", and my favorite, "why the f**k isnt this computer working". Of course, the computer was fine, but he's obviously never seen any UNIX before.

  • by xercist ( 161422 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:03AM (#520038) Homepage
    "their only source of revenue"? No, it isn't. They charge for each item put up for bid. A company that makes money on spam alone wouldn't do as well as ebay...I hope...

  • The unfortunate thing, if you read some of the comments below, is that many people are perfectly willing to let them get away with it. People like using eBay and get some good deals, so they will tolerate ridiculous business practices.

    This is also the ultimate irony whenever "privacy and the internet" become hot topics on some news show. The fact is, most of us willingly give away sensitive information without thinking twice. How many people, for example, fill out those contest entry forms set out at shopping malls, etc.

    In the end, you only know that you have convictions when they get inconvenient.
  • by matt-fu ( 96262 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:05AM (#520051)
    I haven't gotten that email, and a quick poll of some ebay users that I'm friends with indicate that I'm not alone. Have you ever thought that maybe a drive died somewhere and they had to restore from tape, resetting your settings or something like that? Maybe you should consider it next time before you start with this "I think I'll use my slashdot gun to get back at them for such an irritation", Hemos. Children like you shouldn't have such power.

    Anyway, if you're pissed at the ebay/spam connection, there are much better things to raise your hackles about.. such as spammers getting email addresses from ebay.
  • by Zachary Kessin ( 1372 ) <> on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:05AM (#520053) Homepage Journal
    Well in life from time to time you have to deal with people who annoy you. If you want to sell stuff online you have several options (Ebay, Amazon, Yahoo and Others) None are perfect, the Question you have to ask yourself, is what I get from using this service worth taking the bad parts too?

    I can only say that for me it is sometimes worth using EBay. You may decide to use a different online auction or none at all.

    There are things I don't like about many stores and services I use, I deal and if they are bad enough I go elsewhere if I can.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • Hmm, Maybe it's time to ask "what part of NO do you not understand"
  • First, I do think that Ebay has a right to change your user preferences when they feel like it, as long as you still have the option to change them back; it's their server. Yes, it's a stupid little thing only meant to increase their own ad revenue, but legally, they've done nothing wrong.

    Unfortunately, the US Gov't in the recent privacy discussions probably feels that Ebay could do this normally. While they are going to come down on sites that don't have good privacy info, or that do not adhead to standards, the gov't seems fine to let the standard "opt-in" for web registrations continue unchecked, despite many computer and rights groups arguing for out-out as default. Mind you, I have found commercial sites that I use where opt-out is the default, and require you to click to sign in, but 90% of the rest of the sites are the reverse. Is it wrong? No. Is it immoral? Hard to say, since I can't opt-out of junk snail mail, though there's no direct cost to me with that. Is it poor customer service? Yes, for sure.

  • This sounds very much like those spammers that offer an "unsubscribe" option in their unsolicited emails. You know, where they send you to a site to unsubscribe which really means you just put your email into a "yep, this one really exists" list and you will now get about four times as many emails from them?

    Ebay is giving you the illusion of opting out of their emails, while still preserving their right to make sure you get everything they want you too (by claiming a glitch in the system no less). It's really quite ingenious. The average user would probably figure that there really was a glitch in the system and just shrug it off, meanwhile recieving a bunch of emails and saying, "Didn't I say no to this?" At least, I know quite a number of people that wouldn't be bright enough to connect the few. You know, the people that just totally turn off their brain when they sit in front of a computer? The ones that have to retrained on how to use it every day when they get to work because, "this computer stuff is hard"?

    Of course it backfires when there is someone there with more than half of a clue, but they are going to risk that as most of their customers won't have that half a clue.

  • ebay announced that they have been contracted to run the next elections in Florida....
  • I now have a mental imagery of a Catholic nun walking down the cubicle rows slapping young online bidders on the wrists to keep them in line with other eBay users.

  • And it managed to get them on the RBL. Looks like ebay may find themselves there too if they are not careful.

  • Definitely sounds like my ex-boss (I left that place for the sake of my sanity). And that girl definitely sounds like the women I was talking about too.

    You mean, there's more of them? [sigh] The world is definitely in trouble.

    I've never been much of a school person myself either. But I've probably got as much overall knowledge, and way more practical (as in usuable) knowledge than most of the college going bookworm types. Of course, I'm just a regular bookworm type.

    Nope. As I see it, if I'd gone to university for Electical Engineering, I'd be getting paid exactly what I am now, I'd have less practical experience, and I'd have a debt. However, I make more money than we pay the engineers (of approximately my age) here. And, to boot, they usually end up asking me questions about how to design such-and-such a circuit. In trade, while I can do resonance and other fairly involved calculations, I usually just pawn it off on them, feigning ignorance. :)

    BTW, nice rant. Doesn't it feel good to vent?

    Thanks, yeah, it does. I need to do it every now and then. And, let me tell you, it's been a tough week. AutoCAD 14 and Mechanical Desktop on a Pentium 133 notebook. With Windows 2000. And I'm expected to support that. Hell, I can't even pretend to look surprised that you-know-who can't make it work.

    It's like loading up a Ford Model T [] with the world's largest fishing sinker [] collection and then trying to take it out onto the Santa Monica Freeway [].


  • Yes, let's look at the big picture, why don't we?

    When I signed up for eBay, I selected NO to all the spam. I don't want spam. Period.

    Now they're saying that it looks like an error if everything was selected as "no", and therefore they need to put you "in line" with the others.

    Now... they've already proven that they've done this once. What about the NEXT time when they "notice" that all your selections are set to NO?

    What about the next newbie who signs up for eBay service? Will s/he have to go through the same thing at some point in the future? If s/he does, will everyone else have to go through the same thing AGAIN? Will it become company policy to periodically reset your preferences because they look like an "error"?

    If they keep resetting my preferences in order to send me spam, that's unsolicited mail. What's worse, they are SPECIFICALLY opting me back in without my permission. And if they're going to do this periodically, this makes it even worse. Eventually, they're going to catch me while I'm gone on vacation, and I won't be around to reset my preferences before the deadline expired.... HELLO SPAM!

    No thanks, I am *NOT* going to put up with that. It looks like that in order to opt-out of eBay spam, I have to completely opt-out of eBay altogether.

  • they just started charging, sorry.
  • Then he'll be back. Ebay is like crack when you want to find something. Unfortunately, there are no other solid alternatives.

    You have Amazon, but supposedly everybody gave up on them when they raped the privacy policy.

    Also, Ebay probably has giggles when they get mad customer emails, because they know that few mad customers are like drops in the ocean of consumers willing to roll over.

    Rather than the half-ass lame "they lost me as a customer" a far more potent (but requires work) is to get legislation passed that prevents companies from spamming you, or using personal data that you don't want them too. If you can find a congressperson who isn't 0wn3d already (hard in itself).

    Then once you have the legal recourse, you get hold of some attorneys and file a class-acion lawsuit for some big bucks. Again this requires more effort/money.

    So its a long road to hoe. But only when companies are about to get there ass blown off financially will they pull there head out. Until then, lame "they lost me as a customer" only makes them laugh.

  • by rosvicl ( 43795 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:34AM (#520126) Homepage
    Okay, fine, it's business. They basically offer a service which includes a bunch of yes/no choices: do you want to receive this, that, and the other.

    All of a sudden, they're saying "we know you said you don't want this, but we don't believe you meant it. Let us know if you did."

    The point isn't setting up filters. (It isn't even that filters mean the stuff is still going through your ISP.) The point is trust.

    Would you do business with a car dealership that sent you a letter saying they were altering your lease, and call by the end of the month if you don't want to pay more? Sure, you have the chance to keep it the way it is. But you shouldn't have to go to extra trouble to get them to stick to an agreed-on set of rules.

    This month, they're saying they'll spam people unless they opt out again. A company that would do that is entirely capable of sending out email saying "we noticed an error in your registration. Please log in and go to thus-and-such if you really don't want us selling your name and address."

    Yes, eBay has a good record so far. They also have no actual product--they're an intermediary between buyers and sellers. If they lose trust, they're hosed. And this sort of behavior does not inspire me to trust them.
  • I noticed in the email they considered your choices of "NO" everywhere to be a "default".

    Of course, RealPlayer does this too. If you uncheck all their spamming options, you'll get a popup window asking you if you are really sure you wanna do that. I also think there's no button that says "unselect all" but there is one to check all the damn boxes.
  • The issue is having to worry about them doing this more in the future. Now, I do think its a bit reactionary to drop them for one instance of this, as it may well be some legit problem, but if it were to occur repeatedly? And that is the fear, that everyone who has a matched set of 'no' in their prefs will get 'there was an error and we reset everything to yes' once a month till they leave or allow SPAM. Give them a few months, if the behavior continues, then roast them.

    P.S. No site would likely ever do this, but I personally wish they defaulted to 'no' in the first plae.

  • If it isn't a spoof I have to think that whoever came up with this stupid idea will be fired rather quickly. Let's give them a chance to denounce this.

    The first time I read this I just assumed it was a spoof. Can we even verify that this is genuine? It's so ludicrous that I can't believe the company, any company, would stand behind it.

    I admit companies will play very fast and loose with the rules to get their message into my in-box, but the wording here sounds like it's almost trying to incite a riot.

    "Many of your Notification Preference defaults were set to "no" rather than to "yes", which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications."

    This is just stupid. It's got to be a spoof. "We feel you made an error when you asked us not to send this email."

    Jon Sullivan
  • This sounds very much like those spammers that offer an "unsubscribe" option in their unsolicited emails. You know, where they send you to a site to unsubscribe which really means you just put your email into a "yep, this one really exists" list and you will now get about four times as many emails from them?

    Yep. I'm probably being the victim of that right now (I do remember opting out of some spam recently, and the spam I receive skyrocketed). It might have been that son-of-a-female-dog that de-spamproofs people's e-mail in /. too.

    I'm very much inclined to obliterate all my e-mail addresses and go to Sneakemail [].

  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @10:47AM (#520157) Homepage
    It gets tricky - your data on their servers is being modified by them, because they didn't like your ideas about what you wanted to receive from them. Some would say "But wait, it is their machines, and they can do with the data as they please." - right? Perhaps if you aren't paying for it, but you are, indirectly, by being willing to look at thier banner ads, which you pay for (once again, indirectly) with bandwidth.

    Very grey area, to say the least. But what happens in the future...

    Dear user,

    We are sorry to inform you that your recent email written using BigCorp ASPMailClient did not get sent. In fact, we deleted it, because it said disparaging things about our sister company, SmallCorp. Please refrain from saying bad things we don't like. Remember, we have your credit card number...

    Seem impossible? If the dream of ASPs come true, you will pay to see, access, and alter your data, stored remotely on a server not under your control. They may do what they wish with the information, and as current law stands, not by liable for anything they do with it, because the law is in such a grey area over who owns it.

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • I disagree. We just need to wait for the case law to catch up with the medium.

    If you directly tell a telemarketer to remove your information and not contact you again, they have to comply or your have legal recourse. They can be fined.

    eBay is a big company. Enough PO'd users could equal a class action law suit. And it's even easier with spam. You have a paper trail. If you set your preferences and they set them back..... Seems like a slam dunk law suit. Provided the case law catches up.......

    Jon Sullivan

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger