Dear Automated Sales Bots – F*#K Off and Leave Me Alone!
Sales 101 says that it is much more profitable to convert sales from existing customers than to retain new customers – but retailers have taken this to a fantastically annoying new level – to the point where I have to waste significant amounts of time and effort to ignore them.
Continue reading for a few examples of the most annoying practices of modern retailers and a few strategies that you can use to avoid them.
1. Ratings for Everything
After you purchase something or use a service it is inevitable that within a few days you’re going to get an email asking you provide some sort of rating. If you ignore them, they’ll keep emailing you over and over and over and over…
I don’t mind providing feedback once in a while – but this practice is now at the level that you’re asked to rate everything all the time.
If I really love or hate your product or service, I’ll let you know – otherwise f*#c off and leave me alone!
2. User Surveys
Even more annoying and time consuming than rating stuff is full on customer surveys.
I get it – I appreciate that you want to seem like you care about your customer’s experience, you might even be genuinely collecting data to improve your product or service (although in most cases I highly doubt it) – but it’s a little much to expect me to waste 5 or 10 minutes of my time to fill out your survey for free.
One of the most annoying examples is PayPal who have popup surveys in the middle of tasks! “How would you rate your experience transferring money?” How about you just F-off and let me transfer the money!
At the very least, offer one of those gift card draws (I’m pretty sure nobody ever actually gets a gift card – but it’s a nice gesture).
3. Q&A Forums
This is something that B&H and other online retailers have been doing recently that drives me crazy – after you purchase a product if someone has a question about that product, they’ll contact you and ask if you can answer the other person’s question.
I’m sorry, did I forget about being hired by your customer service department?
If you want me, your customer to take care of your Q&A forums, then pay me – otherwise f*#c off and leave me alone!
4. Endless Deals
After you purchase something or even search for something, you now get endless emails and online ads of the latest deal.
For example, I used Booking.com to book a few hotels while traveling in Europe. I now get daily emails about the latest last minute deals in Venice.
I’m not in Venice. I don’t plan on going back to Venice any time soon.
Here’s an idea: the next time I think I might need something from you, I’ll get in touch – until then f*#k off.
5. Email Updates
I hate email. I mean I really really hate email because 95% of the email I receive is auto-send newsletters, offers, sales notices etc.
I don’t mind the occasional newsletter from organizations and companies that I like – as long as there is some useful information and not just sales notifications – maybe once or twice a year would be good.
But once an organization has your email, it’s like it’s their sacred duty to email you as much as possible. My gym sends me email updates everyday – sometimes more than one – I love my gym but seriously – who needs multiple daily motivational stories, recipes and sales on supplements?
6. App Updates
It seems like every app I use needs to be updated…constantly.
Every time I try to use a piece of software or simply shutdown the computer I have to wait for one update or another.
I get that it’s good to occasionally update things, I appreciate security flaws need to be fixed and if you want to add a few features, sure I’ll wait for that – but for the love of all that is holy, can’t anyone release a functional piece of code that doesn’t need to be updated every five minutes?
Do you know what’s even worse than App updates? Its when apps force you to update and then take away something, or make you do something you don’t want to do.
Here’s an example from DJI: ya, no I don’t want to share my personal information with you but since you’re effectively threatening to send a goon to my house to break my drone if I don’t comply…
And as bad as this example from DJI is, my personal favorite has to be social media networks – in this eula update from Twitter, they’re basically telling you that you agree to whatever the changes are – and if you don’t like it you can screw off.
7. Unsolicited Sales Calls
The only thing that I hate more than email is unsolicited sales calls.
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to safeguard your business phone number, sooner or later it will get onto some sales list and the bots will start calling…and calling and calling and calling and calling…
This is to the point that unless I recognize the caller, I don’t even bother answering my phone anymore (see Why I Don’t Answer My Phone Anymore – Also Why I Cancelled Voicemail).
8. Targeted Ads
Targeted ads are so ubiquitous now that we all just ignore them by default – but that doesn’t mean they’re not still annoying.
Google something, anything and it will follow you around the internet for weeks. I don’t get it, its not like I’m suddenly going to remember – oh ya – I forgot to buy that thing I was looking at on Amazon three weeks ago – better buy it right now!
The lord have mercy on you if you Google something sensitive!
Strategies To Ignore The Automated Sales Hustle
Most of the time sucking automated sales hustle is directed at email – so in most cases you can unsubscribe from whatever email lists you’re on.
I make it a monthly task to unsubscribe from every single email list I have somehow managed to get myself subscribed to (except for a select few that I like and that are not too frequent).
However, no matter how hard I try it seems like I can never unsubscribe from them all – and somehow I keep getting added to new lists – so a far better solution is to simply use a sacrificial email account for all online transactions and then pretty much ignore the whole account.
You can take this a step further by inventing an online pseudonym. With a fake identity and a sacrificial email, it’s less important when your personal information is inevitably sold to a sales list. (I always get a good laugh when I get a phone call or email for Photy McPhotoface).
Just be warned that some services (especially those that deal with money – such as PayPal) expect you to use your real identity.
When it comes to phone calls, the best approach I have found is to use an app with an SMS and Call Filter. I use eSet Mobile Security so every time I get a sales call or text, I add the number to the blocked list.
It’s not perfect but I’d say it blocks about half of the sales calls I receive.
When it comes to app and software updates – there’s not much you can do except make sure you turn off all notifications and only keep apps and software installed that you use on a regular basis.
For browsing, I figure the less big data and the NSA know about my search and browsing habits the better. I have started using the “private browsing” option by default – which at least doesn’t leave behind a trail of history, passwords, cookies, and other bits and pieces of data.
What Do You Think?
Are you annoyed by the constant on-slot of automated sales bots – or is that just how the online world works?
Do you hate wasting time filling out ratings and surveys – or do you see it as your duty to help others?
Are you frustrated by app updates – or are you happy that you’re always getting improvements?
What are the most annoying online sales strategies that you’ve had to deal with?
Do you have any productivity tips to avoid online sales distractions?
Leave a comment below and let us know!
JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.