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An Unexpected Opt-In Trick

Earlier this year we told you about a devious set of terms and conditions used by Kohl’s which declared that by merely walking through the doors of any of their stores you were giving up the right to sue them. See original story.

Now comes an email from AAA (American Automobile Association) entitled “Welcome to Your AAA Network!” It goes on to say how special I am:

“You’ve been chosen out of nearly 6 million AAA members to enjoy access to this improved version of Your AAA.”

I can’t contain my excitement.

“Thank you for joining the Your AAA Network and being a part of our digital future!”

Join? I didn’t join anything.

Then comes the clincher:


“By opening this email, you are automatically enrolled and you will no longer receive the printed version of our member publication.”

Oh, so by my mere action of opening the email, I have agreed to no longer receiving AAA’s monthly print publication?

Of course, it would have been wishful consumer thinking that the subject line should have said: “Warning. Opening this email will end your magazine subscription.”

To give AAA some credit, they do allow you to opt back in to the printed version by sending an email to the editor. I won’t choose that option since their lovely little newspaper went directly into the trash anyway each month. It is just kind of presumptuous to use language suggesting that my actions in reading the email caused my print subscription to be discontinued.

At least they will be saving some trees now.

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13 thoughts on “An Unexpected Opt-In Trick”

  1. That pulp-fiction rag (at least the my version) has gone from a glossy mag to el-cheapo newsprint, and as always, is 95% self-advertisements, and 5% international travel stories. I JUST WANT A GALLON OF GAS, OR A TIRE CHANGED, OR A TOW, FOR MY CAR!

  2. I wish they would send me one of those emails. I’ve been looking for a way to stop them from sending me that rag for a long time. But you’re right, this is a sneaky way of doing it.

  3. AAA used to be a fine company, but they’ve deteriorated significantly through the years. You can wait hours for them to show up for a tow. They’ve turned themselves into a marketing company hawking things like travel and tires. And their executives earn way too much money.

  4. My battery died unexpectedly a few months ago and we called AAA. We were told it would be 1-2 hours, and if the driver tested and found my battery to be defective, he would not jump the car but that I would have to buy a new battery from them on the road. A good samaritan gave me a jump right away and I bought a new battery on my own for a lot less. We have been members for years and years and never used them. Quite a surprise.

  5. I quite AAA several years ago and have never regretted it. If I were to put aside their annual membership fee each year, I would have more than enough saved to cover almost any driving situation I might encounter–of which I have had none since I left them … and had had very few in the many years I was a member. Many roadside situations can be handled adequately by the benefits offered free by most credit cards, and there are some free apps available that also can facilitate the obtaining of roadside services.

  6. re: Rich

    My experiences with a battery. My wife’s Acura’s battery died. Called AAA, told them year, make and model so that the tech could be prepared. Needed a new battery but he didn’t have the right one with him. Why do they ask about the car? It wasn’t an unusual car with an unusual style/size battery.

    Went to Pep Boys and got one and I installed it at their store. Easy-peasy

  7. Let them get away with this, just wait until other companies start doing the same. Say a credit card company or bank that you get alerts from and you get one that says once opened you agree to opt out of receiving any paper notifications through the mail or better yet you are told you agreed to an annual subscription for some service.

    When will it end. Maybe congress has to put a stop to this.

  8. I thought this was going to be a story about a company doing the right thing and putting an opt-in box instead of using an opt-out box. But, this is worse than than that.

    “By reading this you agree to…”

    On the technical side of things, they may be tracking who opens the email through external image links in the email. My email applications block those by default. It’s a shame that a reputable company is using this tactic.

    Edgar replies: If I had to guess, I bet there is no email tracking being done. They simply discontinued the print publication and are announcing that change to readers.

  9. you are told you agreed to an annual subscription for some service.

    I think the law about saying that any unwanted package you did not order but shows up on your doorstep is yours to keep. Will cover that and they can try an EULA .

  10. Imagine a world where simply reading a contract means that you agree to the terms. That would be chaos!

    “By reading this contract you agree to the contract”

  11. If you use a fictitious name and e-mail,how are they gonna track that or tie it to your account? Yeah,I know if you give them your email when you sign up,that’s how…so don’t…or better yet,don’t join AAA. BWAHAHAH.

  12. So…if I opened the email, but did not read it, does this count? EULA’s are a joke these days. If you choose not to agree to any terms, you basically cannot install anything.

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