Adholes and the lessons of corporate indifference

The laughably awful advertising industry website Adholes, which has declined steadily in terms of reach and influence over recent years, has taken another sad step on its way to irrelevancy by publicly calling me (and by extension other customers experiencing this issue) an “idiot” on their corporate website.

Not since CBS News hoisted fake documents on the American public in September of 2004 has a company’s lack of respect for its customers been so blatant.

Before some explanation, first take a look at their instructions for unsubscribing from their newsletter:


Clicking their “this idiot” link actually takes you to my original post (one year ago today, as a matter of fact) where I wrote about my specific, re-producible problem with their email unsubscribe process. It all began when I attempted several times to unsubscribe from the company’s lame email missives:

I have now unsubscribed via their unsubscribe process twice, both to no avail.

Compare that statement– I attempted to unsubscribe twice, and both times their published unsubscribe process failed– to the Adholes rebuke, where they think the problem was that I “still [couldn’t] figure out” how to unsubscribe.

Notice how, in the process of insulting me, they don’t even fully understand what my problem is? You have to be pretty intent on not listening to your customers to not even be able to understand what they’re complaining about.

The situation declined from there. Three weeks later, I received yet another unsolicited email from Adholes after my previous attempts to unsubscribe. In that post, I detailed my further problems with their bug-ridden website:

I just spent a few minutes trying to follow their directions on ‘deleting’ my account with them- which, according to their instructions, involves logging in, changing my name to “delete”, removing my email, saving my account, and then logging out of my account.

That would be awesome, except…Their system won’t let me remove my email, nor is there an option to ‘logout’ of my account…so, wow. Just when you think incompetence can’t get much worse, it often surprises you.

With that, what began as a simple unsubscribe request had blossomed into full-on absurdity. As ridiculous as their “new” unsubscribe instructions were, I attempted to comply, only to discover that the instructions were completely wrong. So let’s recap:

1) Adholes did not have a reliable process in place for people to unsubscribe from their email lists. This brings them close to one of the the modern definitions of spammer: Company sending out commercial emails with no reliable unsubscribe mechanism.
2) Following three unsuccessful attempts to remove myself, Adholes then gave me incorrect directions on removing my email, providing instructions to “logout” of my account when no such option existed. This is either intention obfuscation, or quite poor website design and implementation. Either way, it’s an embarrassing way to treat customers.
3) To top it all off, rather than sending me an apology, or attempting to correct their complete lack of an unsubscribe process for other customers, they chose to brand me an “idiot” for not “figuring out” how to navigate their non-existent unsubscribe method. That also serves to insult any other customers who may experience the same issue.

Fortunately, in an age where corporate transparency and apology are gaining increasing traction, this type of outrageously poor behavior by companies is becoming more and more rare. That said, we as consumers need to remain vigilant in the pursuit of these companies who believe it is their right to insult us even as they provide abysmal service.

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