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I recently booked a flight on Hotwire.com. Overall, the process was impressively user friendly. But there was one thing that kind of irked me: the way they handled their email opt in.

It started when I was entering my contact information. Upon landing on this page, the box beside “Yes! I want to hear about great deals…” was pre-checked, as shown below:

Not wanting to subscribe, I quite deliberately unchecked the box, figuring that would be the end of it.

I went ahead and booked my flight, then a bit later, I received this email:

I was quite alarmed for a moment, wondering whether I actually had forgotten something (and whether it would affect my booking). It was only upon reading the body text that I realized they were again asking me whether I wanted to subscribe to their email list… even though I had specifically indicated just moments earlier that I did not want to.

If the box in the contact information section had not been checked by default, then perhaps this would be okay. (It’s just possible that I did in fact want to subscribe to their newsletter, but just neglected to check the opt-in box.)

But that’s not what happened here. I didn’t “forget” anything. I quite deliberately unchecked the box. The meaning is clear: I don’t want your emails!

I found this both annoying and confusing. When it comes to email subscriptions, a clear no does not mean maybe.

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