Consumer Email Verification – Is It Better or Worse for Customer Service?


This morning, I tried to buy a refurbished laser printer from an online retailer. I wanted to use paypal to pay for it, but the paypal button on the site kept sending me to a blank page. So I emailed customer support for the retailer and explained the problem. I received the following response:

Thank you for your email with the subject "paypal not working", that you sent me at *******. In order to ensure that email from our valued customers reaches us quickly, while Spam is ignored, we're asking you to please confirm your email. You will only need to do this once — after you verify your email address, all subsequent emails from you will be delivered without delay.

You can confirm via email or on the web:

1. Email Confirmation:
Reply to this email with "CONFIRM" as your subject.
Please note: You MUST reply to this confirmation from your ****** email address or it will not serve to verify your original email.

2. Web Confirmation:
Click here. If the link does not work, copy and paste the following URL into the address bar of your browser:

Please verify your email using one of the methods detailed above, and it will be delivered promptly. If you do not confirm within 14 days, your email will be deleted from our server and will not be delivered.

I replied to the email because I get a ton of spam, so obviously I understand their desire to minimize it. But I also thought about just shopping somewhere else. It made me wonder about the cost-benefit curve of implementing this kind of policy. Cutting down on spam most certainly improves the speed of customer service, and probably keeps them from missing emails that get flagged incorrectly. But how many people decide to go somewhere else? "Easy" is one of the reasons people shop online. Do consumers sympathize with anti-spam measures, or do they find them a nuisance? I'm not sure, but it struck me as an interesting decision for online retailers.

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