Stupid Media Watch: Register UK Publishes Alarmist, Ignorant Crap
By Ken Magill
“New voting rules leave innocent Brits at risk of SPAM TSUNAMI,” said the headline on a piece last week published by regular bullshit purveyor TheRegister.co.uk.
But isn’t spamming already illegal in the UK? Why, yes. It is.
But if you define spamming to include phone calls and direct mail, then maybe you have a story.
“Read the paperwork very carefully – or fall victim to marketing shysters,” said the subhead taking writer Jasper Hamill’s assessment of issue at hand to a ridiculous level of trivial asininity.
Turns out falling victim to shyster marketers in this case has nothing to do with actually getting ripped off by a disreputable entity or person. In the mushy heads of the Register.co.uk’s editorial staff, falling victim to shyster marketers can be accomplished simply by opening one’s mail box and finding an unwanted flyer.
“Changes to the electoral registration system have sparked fears that Britons are about to be swamped by a tsunami of unwanted spam from companies that harvest and sell on citizens' personal data,” began the piece.
“The Register has learned that a number of councils across the UK have not properly informed residents how to enter their details on the electoral register without making their information available to the marketing industry, which delights in spamming us by post, phone and email,” it continued.
Does the Register.co.uk have no marketers on staff? Oh, yeah. Those would be the shysters responsible for driving the revenue that makes sure dumbass Hamill’s and his dumbass editors’ paychecks don’t bounce.
In any case, let’s learn about the potential cause of the UK’s “SPAM TSUNAMI:”
“The problem lies in the distinction between the closed and the open electoral roll, which used to be called the edited register. Currently, voters are offered the choice to tick a box and put themselves on the open register each time they fill in an electoral registration form, a choice which leaves them vulnerable to having their details sold to spam marketers,” the article said.
“To avoid ending up on the spam register, voters must tick a box opting out of the open register each time they fill in an electoral registration form, which generally happens once a year.
“Under the new system, which is called Individual Electoral Registration, their choice is remembered, which means that if they accidentally ticked the box and put themselves on the open register, they will be spammed indefinitely until they work out the correct bureaucratic procedure to remove themselves from it once and for all.”
Ah, the old bureaucratic-procedure-of-having-to-tick-the-proper-box-or-risk-getting-victimized by-shyster-marketers-indefinitely trick.
Those wily marketing-shyster bastards.
Except consumers in the UK are at risk of no such thing. First, sending unsolicited commercial email is illegal there. And even if it was legal, spam filters today work astoundingly well.
Second, defining all unsolicited commercial pitching as spam dilutes the word to meaninglessness. Being unsolicited is just one of many dark attributes of bulk, unsolicited commercial email.
Direct mail is not spam. Direct mail is expensive, which is why so-called response lists—lists of people who have responded to direct mail or email pitches, for example—are so popular with direct marketers. The high cost of producing and sending direct mail drives marketers toward efficiencies unneeded in email.
Any marketer planning to send a “tsunami” of direct mail to UK households simply because members of the household failed to tick the proper voter registration box should also plan to be out of business in relatively short order.
As for telemarketing, the marketing shyster industry in the UK subsidizes and administers a Telephone Preference Service through which consumers can opt out of unsolicited sales and marketing calls.
The ticking or unticking of any box on any form anywhere does not negate the TPS.
A quick conversation with anyone who had even a rudimentary understanding of direct marketing—say, a trip down the hall the Register.co.uk’s marketing department—would have disabused Hamill of the entire premise of his article.
But when it comes to marketing, we learned long ago never to expect the consumer or tech press to do honest research or gain any actual expertise before denigrating the profession that keeps available and affordable all the goods and services they enjoy.