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Why do unsolicited marketing emails include a "Terms and Conditions" link?

I guess that terms and conditions are another one of those meaningless bits of legalese that get tacked on to emails and websites.  Like that "confidential" warning companies add to the bottom of their emails. Whatever.

The thing that irritates me is when I get spammed with an email and notice the "Terms and Conditions". These terms and conditions are usually related to their website which I have never visited. This just happened in the case of a company named OpenX sending me such an email. I am still not sure where they found my email address, but I know that I never signed up for their email list.

Terms and conditions are all wrapped up in contracts. But what contract? If you send me an unsolicited email, you have already broken federal law. How can you dictate a contract to me at that point? At that point, that is when I am glad that my Google Apps email lets me click the "Spam" button - signalling back to Google's email system that I consider this email is to be spam. If enough other people do this, Google will begin to send emails from that sender directly to my spam folder. I see my spam folder littered with big company emails that never came to my inbox — just the same as all those bogus diploma emails.

Think about that the next time you get the urge to prospect through email.