Sort of makes you despair, doesn’t it? Considering that this is the product of millions of years of “survival of the fittest.”
Well, survival, until our computer and robot Overlords decide they don’t need us any more, and pull the plug on us. ;-)
On January 25, 2010, a coworker e-mailed me after a brief panic. She had just received an e-mail with the subject line “Final notice,” and thought her car was going to repossessed.
But her car wasn’t in danger of disappearing—and she e-mailed me because I was the one who sent the message, to her and 250,000 other people, asking them to sign a petition about a public option in the health care reform bill.
I was in charge of e-mail advocacy for the blog Firedoglake, and it was part of my job to get people to open e-mails, sign petitions, and make donations to support our work. I thought using “Final notice” would get more people to notice the pitch, which began “This is your final notice to sign our emergency petition to progressive Members of Congress…”
Unfortunately, it appears I was among the first in the political advocacy world to employ that deception, and today the tactic is increasingly common. Recently, I woke up to an e-mail from an address that began FINAL-NOTICE, and the subject line was “AUTO-CONFIRM: [M. Whitney (3/31/2015)].” It wasn’t from my bank, but rather the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The DCCC and the House Majority PAC (a group also working to elect Democrats to Congress) are probably the two biggest offenders when it comes to faux-debt collection fundraising pitches, but they are not alone. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee also sends similar e-mails, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Republican party, and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund have all tried it in the recent past.
Aside from potentially turning off recipients, there could be political consequences as well. The College Republicans caught heat in 2004 for a deceptive direct mail program that asked senior citizens to donate to “Republican Headquarters,” while failing to mention aside from a small font at the bottom of a letter that the college group wasn’t affiliated with the actual Republican party.
There hasn’t yet been similar blowback to phony debt collection pitches—not yet anyway. Maybe it’s coming. But for me, it’s a line that I crossed once, and that I will never cross again.
Well, at least this guy learned his lesson.
Don’t be fooled by such tactics, even if it turns out to be a cause that you support. These types of scare tactics are totally unacceptable. Political groups may need the money, but they should not use fear to get donations.
You know what’s an even better idea? Public funding for campaigns, no private donations. And while we’re at it, no PACS.