Inbox Abuse at the Hands of Major League Baseball

Friday, December 11th, 2020

At 12:30 PM on November 23, I received an email from MLB.com’s shop, advertising site-wide 30% off savings. Because officially licensed gear for professional sports teams is always ludicrously overpriced, this has the effect of bringing the cost of a $260 “authentic” jersey to a still grossly overpriced $182. To say I was uninterested is putting it mildly.

However, I did notice that this email advertised the deal as “Early Cyber Monday Savings”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings”

As you may know, “Cyber Monday” is a marketing term for the Monday after American Thanksgiving, when many online stores offer special deals. This year, Thanksgiving fell on the November 26, making Cyber Monday the 30th. November 23 was thus not “early Cyber Monday”, it was nothing at all. This email represented just the latest example of calendar abuse by some crack marketing team.

It was also the beginning of some monstrous mailing list mismanagement. Just six hours later, I received an email letting me know that these “Early Cyber Monday savings” were “ending soon”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Ends Soon”

Another three hours later, at 9:30 PM, a third email arrived letting me know this deal was “almost outta here”, and in its “final hours”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Final Hours”

The sale was ending at midnight, so I assumed that would be the last I’d hear about it. Three emails in one day is too much, but I could see the repeated contacts being effective with some potential customers.

The next day, however, I received the shocking news that “Early Cyber Monday” had been “extended” into Tuesday. Did MLB explain that this was due to overwhelming demand, which had perhaps crashed their servers and thus prevented hopeful buyers from placing orders? They did not. Did they at least use a bit of clever baseball lingo, perhaps saying that the sale had “gone into extra innings?” There again, the answer is no. OK, but surely they changed the design of the email for some variety?

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Extended”

Well, the badge on the bottom of the banner was a different shade of blue, yes.

That evening, I received yet another email, letting me know this was my last chance to take advantage of this 30% off.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Last Chance”

I was rather incredulous at the idea of sending five emails in two days for a mediocre sale. Still, I found the overzealousness amusing, and I assumed that would be the end of it. I was completely unprepared for what would follow over the next two-plus weeks.

To avoid trying your patience, while still demonstrating the abuse my inbox suffered in late November and early December, here is a siumple list of the various sales promotions MLB.com emailed about. Lest you think I made these up, I’ve included images from the most ridiculous emails:

  • Thanksgiving Eve Savings

    A banner reading “Today Only! Thanksgiving Eve Savings”
    Except perhaps when discussing travel, “Thanksgiving Eve” is really not a thing.

  • Thanksgiving Day Sale

  • Black Friday Sale

  • Black Friday Extended

  • Cyber Monday Sneak Peek

    A banner reading “Cyber Monday Sneak Peek”
    The extensions led in to sneak peeks, then back to sales.

  • Cyber Monday Sale

  • Cyber Monday Extended

  • A non-specific “Countdown” event

  • Friends & Family Savings Event

    A banner reading “Friends & Family Savings Event”
    Lamentably, I am not in the Major League Baseball family. After all this, I’m not feeling very friendly either.

  • The Holiday Gifting Sale

  • 3 Days of Saving

  • One Day Sale

    A banner reading “Friends & Family Savings Event”
    OK, this one cracked me up.

  • Holiday Savings Event

Throughout the course of this, the discounts seemed to fluctuate. Many of these sales advertised “up to 65% off”, which really tells you just how much this merchandise is ordinarily marked up. Others contained more standard 20-30% off discounts. The numbers were impossible to keep straight, as they changed constantly.

Similarly, my own reactions bounced around quite a bit. My initial mirth quickly grew to disgust at the marketing that occurred just before, and on, Thanksgiving. I was then horrified at the onslaught of emails surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I eventually grew numb, and just let the spam wash over me. Finally, I settled on bemusement, enjoying watching just how far this would go and wondering when it would ever end.

But today, enough was truly enough. This morning, MLB.com hit my inbox for the 50th time in under three weeks. That is just utterly insane behavior. I’m sure that MLB wants to juice their merchandise sales after a down year in 2020, but the idea that this is the way to do it beggars belief. It is inexplicable that anyone with any sense at all could think the above was appropriate.

So I’m out. I’ve unsubscribed, and I hope to never hear from these dingdongs again. Sure, I’ll miss their “Christmas Day Sale” (Warning, gifts will not arrive by Christmas), the “Tuesday After Christmas” event, and the “New Year’s Eve Eve” savings the day after that, but I think I’ll be alright.


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