Bad e-mail management delivers only confusion
The other day, I decided to change my account settings with NASDAQ OMX's GlobeNewswire. I was getting way more e-mails than I wanted, and most were not relevant to my beat, so I clicked on the trusty "manage accounts" link.
I was taken to a login page and prompted to enter my e-mail address and password. So far, so good. After doing this, I encountered two security questions, so I answered them—standard stuff about the town where I was born, etc. I was told they were incorrect. Hm.
Two more were thrown up. I answered those—also deemed incorrect. Two more appeared. Rejected. Still more. Still rejected.
At this point, I was beginning to wonder what was going on. For heaven's sake, I know what my first car was, right? Am I losing touch with my identity? Is this could be some kind of phishing scam? Am I in a Phillip K. Dick novel?
Epistemological questions aside, I knew there was no way I had entered so much security information when I signed up for these alerts. I sent an e-mail to GlobeNewswire, outlining my situation.
To my surprise, I got a phone call about an hour later. They would help me with my problem—which was, I was told, that I didn't have a GlobeNewswire account.
But I remember signing up for one, I protested. Besides, why would I be getting targeted e-mails from GlobeNewswire if I didn't have an account?
"Well, you used to have an account," the caller told me.
It seems the company had switched over to a new subscriber management platform, which had wiped out my subscriber information—but continued my subscription. Like a ghostly shadow, my account was maintained, untethered from any e-identity. My daily e-mails were like light from a distant star, carrying information from a long-dead vector.
Cosmic. But not in a good way.
I was told that GlobeNewswire would helpfully wipe the slate clean, and I could re-register if I wish. Not likely. Was there no information sent about the platform switch and its ramifications? Why were there no messages on the login page about this? How long, exactly, would the CMS continue to throw up security questions as if I had an account, when I did not? This is unsettling and misleading.
It should not have to be said, but media companies need to think about the user experience first when offering Web products. People need to be able to manage their accounts easily and be made fully aware of changes that will affect them. Customers—in this case, those submitting press releases for distribution—also deserve this, as poor account management affects people's perceptions of them as users of the platform.