I believe Paul Shalet is lying (MW August 2). I think he secretly likes receiving e-mails exhorting him to “get a bigger penis in ten days” and a “free university degree”. Not that I think – or know for that matter – that Paul doesn’t have a big penis or a university degree, but I suspect that, like most of us, he actually finds it rather amusing and interesting receiving such mail whether conscious of asking for it or not.
This, I feel, is an important point that Paul failed to raise in his thought-provoking article. While most people find it irritating to receive irrelevant mail, occasionally unsolicited mails are amusing, relevant and sometimes more of interest to someone else you know. The best unsolicited e-mails, in our office at least, get e-mailed around the office and elsewhere – isn’t this the whole premise of viral marketing?
I like having the option of filtering out myself what I do and don’t want to read, but do I want to stop unsolicited mail completely? Well, no more than I do direct mail, or irritating radio ads and annoying TV commercials. I don’t find it too much of a chore pressing my delete button – at least I have only had to read the subject line. On the radio I have to listen to the whole sales spiel before I get to listen to my favourite tunes because it’s too much of a pain changing stations all the time when I’m driving.
So I agree with the EU decision. I don’t think the matter is as straightforward as Mr Shalet makes out. While I certainly don’t want to be hit with hundreds and thousands of irrelevant messages (especially if you publish this letter) I am old-fashioned enough to think that I might just be missing out on something, if I only receive what I think I want.
Director of strategic marketing