[NO NO Unsolicited Commercial E-mail

I've been on the net since 1992, and a disturbing trend has developed. In 1992, some people knew what the internet was, but most businesses didn't have access. In 1997, many businesses (all the large ones) have access of some kind, and many of the smaller ones do. Many of the smaller ones also abuse the ability to send e-mail to a large number of people at once (or even automate the sending of multiple messages personalized for each recipient). The fact that sending e-mail is practically free to the sender does not give anyone carte blanche to send mail to as many people as they desire to further their financial condition.

In the last couple of weeks, I've received about 10 pieces of unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE). I don't like it. I shouldn't have to read it, and I shouldn't have to delete it. I shouldn't have to take the time to tell people that I don't want to receive their UCE. Any UCE is an intrusion on my time and privacy. I don't like it one bit.

UCE Defined

UCE can take many forms. It's easier to define it by exclusion than by inclusion, but here's a sampling of what it is and isn't.

UCE is not:

UCE is:

So, basically, if someone wants me to give them money (or visit their .com web site, or whatever along those lines), it's UCE unless I've already established business relations with them. If I've established relations with them, or they're interested in establishing relations with me (and giving me money), I'll accept it.

How to handle UCE

There are several tactics to dealing with UCE. I started off nice, and I'm getting progressively more agressive in the war against junk mail.

When I first got junk mail, I'd compose a polite letter explaining why people shouldn't send out UCE, what they might do to advertize more effectively, and asking to be removed from the mailing list. I wrote up an individual note every time. That was back in the '95 timeframe. Now, UCE comes in too often to craft a personal reply, so I made a form letter reply to the annoying mailing.

I've gotten tired of sending in the form letter now, whether fortunately or not. Now, I've taken to sending an invoice to anyone who sends me UCE. If you're planning to send me junk mail, you can expect a bill for $22 - namely $12 for message storage ($1 per month), and $10 for research to find a street address for you. I will e-mail the bill if at all possible, and expect to be paid. I'll allow ample time to pay the bill (the better part of a month), after which time I'll send a copy in the mail - for an additional $3. I will also charge an extra $15 if your paper address or e-mail address is especially difficult to find. Collection charges may mount from there, and if worse comes to worst, I'll go to court, 47 USC 227 on my side, and sue for $500 - mostly because I don't care to go to court to collect the money.


If you're thinking about it, don't send me any UCE. I don't want it. If you think I might find it offensive, don't send it. You'll get a bill, and I'll expect you to pay. The fact that I'm on the internet doesn't mean that you have permission to e-mail me. You don't, plain and simple.

If you get too much UCE, send 'em a bill, or at the very least tell them to stop immediately. Perhaps they will. Perhaps they won't. If they don't stop, bill them fiercely. If they don't pay, take them to small claims court.

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Questions? Comments? Send them to me: jimes@hiwaay.net