This epilogue to the “Open, Please!” blog posting is based on feedback from a Canadian reader who agrees that overly aggressive marketers intrude on our private lives, but feels there is a “rub”. He says that if you “filter” your email or snail mail without actually opening it, you will occasionally miss something very important. While I agree that something important might be overlooked in the very short term, I have concluded for me that the time, effort, and cost to examine the 80% of incoming mail which is spam is hard to justify on any basis.
The Canadian reader offers up an example of the difficulties that can be encountered if in fact you do miss something important. Three years ago, his insurance broker decided to move all their home insurance clients to a new insurer. I suspect that the original contract gave the insurer the right to do this under certain circumstaces. The new insurer, sent a letter describing payment terms, asking for credit card information, etc. Since the Canadian had no prior experience with the new insurer, he assumed their letters were junk mail and discarded the letter and subsequent dunning notices. Meanwhile the Canadian cancelled his insurance policy for other reasons. Following this his bank was informed him that the house was no longer insured, and sent a letter informing him that his mortgage was being cancelled for not having kept his insurance current.
The Canadian’s point was that physical mail has some legal standing that email does not and that spammers rely on this perception to get us to open their physical mail. Actually, if there is a need or desire to use phycial mail for something “important” that would support the rationale for certified mail, Fedex, etc. A number of profitable multi-billion-dollar overnight delivery businesses have been built based on the need for physical delivery of letters.
I find it hard to justify the physical delivery of a letter. At the same time, I find it nearly impossible for anyone to say that they have not missed any “important” when they install filters. My theory has always been that if there is something really important I am trying to get to someone, that there are other means. Asking a friend of the recipient to forward a copy of the information, for example, or even resorting to the telephone. If you have something really important to get delivered, you will find a way. If your goal is to deliver 25,000,000 mails about how to strike it rich or modify human body parts, then I have no sympathy.