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Churn baby churn: junk email inferno

14 June 1999

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It was five years ago today... If you've got a couple of minutes to spare between deleting spam advertising Viagra, Spanish lottery bonanzas, once-in-a-lifetime Nigerian investment opportunities and custom-made logo services, then have a look at Gartner's 1999 suggestion for how to avoid that junk mail tsunami:

Churn baby churn: junk email inferno

By Drew Cullen
Published Monday 14th June 1999 14:55 GMT

Tired of getting spammed, but don't know where to turn? Easy. Sack your ISP and get another email address. Alternatively, you could refrain from signing up for Internet services, many of which sell on email addresses to junk email advertisers.

So says Gartner Group, which has uncovered the startling fact that the longer you keep an email address the more likely you are to be spammed. Keep the same address for more than three years and you have a more than 40 per cent chance of getting more than 11 spams in any given week, according to Gartner. But where does that leave the less than 60 per cent - Net no-hopers, every one - who get fewer than 11 "get rich quick" and "come to our porno-site" emails a week?

Spamming can get irritating enough for people to switch service providers because of "spam and more are ready to switch, particularly if the flow of spam increases," says Gartner analyst Jim Browning. And 36 per cent of some 13,000 users surveyed by Gartner would be prepared to switch, if spamming got worse. This would cost an Internet Service Provider with one million subscribers "about $7 million a year in lost subscription fees, and the price of additional workers and computers needed to handle the mail".

Oh, really? Paid-for ISPs like Compuserve have thousands of customers who stop using the service but continue paying through their credit card. This is called inertia - people don't get round to cancelling their subscriptions. (Which reminds this writer to cancel a Compuserve account, unused for more than a year). And as for sacking your ISP because of spam fatigue... it's all very well telling a market researcher you will do this, but doing the dirty deed is an entirely matter. That takes initiative. The Gartner survey was commissioned by Bright Light Technologies, which, surprise, surprise, sells spam-filtering services to ISPs.


Sigh. "Eleven spams in any given week?" Happy days indeed... ®

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