Dear University of Chicago Development Office:
I’m going to make this simple for you: For every single piece of spam e-mail I receive from you exhorting me to give money to the University of Chicago, I intend to cut 25% off the original amount of money I intended to donate to you for the year. So far — in the last couple of weeks — I’ve received two e-mails from you, so congratulations, you’ve already halved my intended contribution. Two more and you lose it all, and then I’ll have to decide whether to count any additional spam from you this year against my intended contribution for next year, and the year after and so on. If I do this, given your current rate of spammage, I may be in the clear for contributions through 2010 at the earliest.
Why do this? Two reasons. First, I get enough unwanted crap in my e-mail box without additional unwanted crap from you. Second, begging for money through unsolicited e-mail implicitly places you on the same level as the people who are trying to scam my credit card numbers, or trying to tempt me place a bet with their offshore casino, or trying to beguile me with pictures of barnyard fornication — just the sort of crowd I’m sure you want to be associated with. You’re better than that, and with an endowment of $3.62 billion, you can sure as hell afford a goddamn stamp.
Yes, I’m aware that you have provided me with a way to opt out of future money-begging e-mails, but you know what? I shouldn’t have to ask you not to clog my inbox with e-mail I don’t want. You’re the University of Chicago. You should already know that spamming alumni is a venal sin. And I have no assurance that once I opt out, some jackass in the future won’t just put me on the spam list again.
So instead, I place the burden on you, and put it to you in a way I’m sure will get your attention: Take me off your damn money-begging e-mail list and keep me off it, or you won’t see any money from me. Because you’re annoying me, and why would I give money to someone who is annoying me? I’ll just give it to my high school, or maybe to my wife’s college. They don’t spam me.
It’s up to you. You’ve already lost half of what I planned to send you this year because of your spammage. It’s all the same to me if you lose the other half. If there’s one thing I learned at the University of Chicago, it’s not to reward people who just won’t learn.
Update, 5pm 6/22: How very nice — an e-mailed apology from the U of C Development folks and assurance I’m removed from the fundraiser e-mail list. Griping works! And I’m pleased enough by the gracious response that I’m back to making a full contribution to the school for the year. Would that all e-mail issues were so quickly resolved.