Scientific American sells customers’ addresses!

I dislike paperwork, despise advertising, hate spam, and loathe companies trading addresses without my consent, which is why I’m seriously pissed off after finding a “special” offer piece of snail mail from New Scientist in my mail box this evening.

The address on the spam was wrong, in two ways: It contained the residence name where the street name should be (a mistake I commonly made after moving here), and it was missing the last letter of the residence name. Both of these errors appeared on the letter from New Scientist, and in an email from Scientific American regarding a missing issue. There’s no doubt: Scientific American is selling their customers’ addresses!

I got a subscription which is not yet expired, but I’m not interested in continuing a business relationship with such an immoral company. I’m going to ask them to terminate the subscription and send me a check for the rest of the issues, and then I never want to hear from them again.

Update: Here’s the body of the reply from Scientific American:

We are in receipt of your complaint of July 23, 2007, regarding the sale of your name to New Scientist for promotional mailings. On all of our subscription order forms, we do make mention of the fact that we may share your name with third parties, and offer you the option of “opting-out” and denying that your name be disclosed. According to our records, you did not make that selection when you originally ordered your subscription.

As per your request, we are canceling your subscription and mailing you a refund check for all issues not mailed. Please accept our apologies for the confusion.

I always opt out on these things, but there’s no way to prove that three years after the fact. They don’t say whether the option is on the form, just that it’s mentioned & offered. I’m disappointed that this isn’t more of an issue.

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