Several years ago (and about once a year since then) I find myself responding to a frantic email I received from a friend or former co-worker about how congress is trying to pass a bill that requires postage for every email sent. The email suggests we call our representatives immediately to stop this bill from being passed. The bill, of course, is an urban legend. But the reality of paying for email, as of now, is not.
Both AOL and Yahoo are experimenting with a new service that requires businesses to pay from 1/4 to one cent per email to be delivered through their services. While they say that all mail will still be delivered, only those companies that pay will have their mail bypass the spam control filters that are in place.
Is the online world ready for pay-per-email? I doubt it.
Those in favor of such a system argue that this is the only way to curb spam. I beg to differ. I think the private sector is handling the e-mail spam issue quite effectively. On the server side, I have the option to turn spam filtering on in varying degrees. Because I don’t like the idea of not knowing what’s being filtered out I turn all my spam filtering off. On the client side, I use a very effective spam filtering tool called cloudmark. This is a subscription service (somewhere around $3 or $4 per month) allowing spam to be tagged by any subscriber for every subscriber. It’s effective and allows all my spam to be thrown into a folder labeled as such, which allows me to browse through it every now and then to see if it caught anything it shouldn’t have. Aside from the occasional newsletter, it’s pretty accurate and removing only what is spam and catches about 90% of the spam that I receive.
This isn’t a commercial for cloudmark but an example clearly illustrating why we don’t need a pay-per-email system in place. Aside from the clear benefit that AOL and Yahoo will receive in new profits, this is just a bad idea for the consumer and businesses alike.
Most of my businesses done over the phone or email. Primarily email. For the convenience of our search engine optimization client we send them regular and semi-automated updates. This allows our clients to know when we work on their account while also letting them know what it is we are doing and when. Because of this our clients have a greater appreciation for the work we are doing and we have to spend less time on the phone with them.
Many other businesses regularly email documents, specifications, updates, referrals, confirmations, etc. to their clients and customers and even co-workers. Placing a tax on each email sent, regardless of how small (things like this always start small, but you better believe it won’t stay small) may be a solution to reduce the amount of email spam, as well as lower the burden on the email servers, it will also add an additional financial burden onto businesses, which they will be forced to pass onto their consumers.