Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Opt In No No!!

So I'm buying tickets for a Philadelphia Phillies game at their website, and when you do so you have to register on their site, using your email address as user name and creating a password. And down the page a bit you see the opt-in statement stipulating that you agree to accept emails from the Phillies, Major League Baseball and their partners, and the checkbox next to it is pre-checked. You can debate the efficacy of pre-checks, but that's not what's interesting in this scenario. This is: I noticed the check mark inside the box looks dark gray and not black. So I tried to uncheck the box -- and it would not let me! The Philadelphia Phillies disabled the ability to uncheck the email opt-in box, essentially forcing ticket buyers' consent to opt into their email list!

And here's a bonus no-no: when you put in your credit card number, you see an unchecked box with the statement "Save credit card info". So I left that unchecked, for obvious reasons. But after I closed the window on that first transaction and I went back later to buy tickets for another game, and I got to that same page, my credit card information was pre-populated in the fields, even though I specifically refused to consent to them keeping it on file!

If you're a marketer, I hope you have at least a squishy feeling in your stomach about the tactic, if not disgust. Intellectually, it's easy to recognize this as a bad tactic. Yet some marketer working for the Phillies thought this was a good idea. Maybe the marketer is inexperienced and thought he was pulling a clever move; or maybe he didn't want to do it but was strong-armed into the tactic by a non-marketing-savvy boss. In any event, this is a terrible way to gain "consent", and I'm not saying this because I'm Mr. Goody Two Shoes. I know viscerally that it's bad because I was the customer in this situation, and as a customer I felt violated. So you can probably guess how much merchandise I'm going to be buying from the Philadelphia Phillies and Major League Baseball this year.

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