One of the websites that I own is hosted with Globat. I wanted to switch its hosting, but didn’t have the time to move over to another host in time before my yearly renewal, and got charged for another year. I thought: “Okay. I’ll know better next year” and entered it into my calendar to remember to go away from them before my next renewal hits.
On Friday, I got a new opt-out e-mail from Globat. For those of you that don’t know it, Globat is known for their special version of opt-out e-mail marketing. In essence, their “opt-out” campaigns rest on a strategy that unless the recipient of the e-mail opts-out of a promo within a certain number of days after the e-mail is sent out, they are automatically charged for an upgrade they didn’t ask for. Here’s the text of the Friday e-mail from Globat (I’ve eliminated some of the irrelevant verbiage from it, and bold fonted some of the important words and phrases):
Many of you have been asking for it and now it’s here: Unlimited Web Hosting!
In 10 days from this date, we will be upgrading you to new unlimited package, the GX01(tm), for the low one-time upgrade fee of $49.95. Never worry about going over your limit again and enjoy the peace-of-mind that comes with unlimited Web hosting.
The GX01 gives you the resources to grow your site as you see fit. This amazing package features:
[details of the “œamazing package” here]
As your trusted host, we strive to provide current and relevant products and services to maximize your experience with us. It is our pleasure and honor to host [url of my website] and appreciate that you continue to give Globat.com the opportunity to serve your Web hosting needs.
As one of our most valued customers and based on our customer feedback, we are absolutely certain that you want to take advantage of this opportunity. This is the first time we’ve gone unlimited and are excited to be able to bring this package to you.
For that reason, we will automatically upgrade your current hosting package to the GX01 and charge the $49.95 one-time upgrade fee to your account on file on Friday, February 6, 2009, unless you specifically tell us not to upgrade you by clicking on the link at the end of this e-mail.
Last but not least, your upgraded account will also qualify for 3 free months of hosting once the upgrade is complete and you are fully satisfied with it. I know that this sounds too good to pass up, but if you for any reason do NOT wish to take advantage of this incredible upgrade promotion, you will need to tell us so by clicking on the link at the end of this e-mail.
If you are still not convinced that this is a tremendous opportunity and you are positive that you do not want to participate, you need to tell us not to upgrade your account by clicking on the link below. (If you do not click this link, your account will automatically be upgraded and you will be charged the $49.95 one-time upgrade fee.):
NO, I DO NOT WANT this upgrade and hereby decline my 3 free months (click below):
[url to opt-out]
(If link does not work, please copy and paste the entire link into your browser.)
Thank you for your continued trust! If you have any additional questions about this new package, please contact us anytime at [e-mail address here], or call us at [phone number here].
Globat.com – Sales and Marketing Team
I see the word “trust” and the phrase “your trusted host” in the text of this e-mail. But I also see a clear abuse of trust in the very same text. Globat is calling me one of their “most valued customers”. I find this enormously ironic! Yes, I definitely see that I am a “valued” one. Yet, your values are clearly monetary, and not the ethical ones, Globat. You are saying “Never worry… and enjoy the peace-of-mind.” After multiple opting-out of similar promos, and ticking the “never contact me again” box, your above e-mail makes me do exactly the opposite! I worry over the very fact that you have my credit card number stored on your server, Globat.
I did a Google search for “Globat opt-out,” and it yielded thousands of results, where I read customer reviews that call this an “incessant wheedling for more money,” and warn others to “watch out for opt-out email offers,” calling this marketing practice a “deceitful”, “deceptive”, “outrageous”, “illegal”, and “most annoying” one.
Another funny element of the technique is that the 10 days are counted not from the moment that I confirm the receipt of your e-mail, but from the time and date that you’ve sent it out! You’re almost leaving me no chance. What if I’m on a vacation? It’s almost like a construction company (that I bought my home from) sending me a letter saying that they will build something on my lot, and if I do not reply within 10 days, they will accept my non-reply as an agreement, and will charge my account. What if I am traveling outside the country at that time, and never get the notice? The customer agreement is pre-supposed.
Shannon Kinnard (2002) says that “opt-out is just another word for unsolicited commercial e-mail” or spam. (“Marketing with E-mail: A Spam-free Guide to Increasing Sales, Building Loyalty, and Increasing Awareness”, p. 180) Dave Chaffey (2006), on the other hand, states that the “opt-out should not necessarily be viewed as a bad thing.” He calls “part and parcel of permission marketing” which “will save you the expense of targeting someone who is not predisposed to your service.” Chaffey says that this opt-out method will “help increase your response rates” and “can even be viewed as an opportunity,” because “customers may prefer information about other services they were unaware of.” (“Total E-mail Marketing”, p. 130) My personal view on the subject rests somewhere between Kinnard’s and Chaffey’s, but in case with Globat, we see a very distorted type of opt-out e-mail marketing. Globat does not offer you an “opportunity” (as opt-out e-mails should do per Chaffey), but is “absolutely certain that you want to take advantage of [the] opportunity” (verbatim quote from their above-mentioned e-mail).
Zig Ziglar says that “every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” In the case I have described above, I have had no need, no desire, and now I have no trust. Considering that there is also no hurry, the Globat’s Sales and Marketing Team has done an excellent job in screwing up what could have been a decent marketing campaign. And some gut feeling is telling me that they’ll do it again. . .