Changes by Yahoo to its customers’ “marketing preferences” have not yet been implemented in New Zealand or Australia, and there are currently no plans to do so, says Yahoo Australia spokeswoman Anna Featherstone.
Yahoo set all US users’ preferences for receiving its marketing material to “yes” last month, regardless of how the user had originally set them. The move came under attack in US media as opening the floodgates to spam, though Yahoo says the resetting only gives permission for the user to receive Yahoo’s own marketing messages, not those of independent “sponsors”.
“Basically, Yahoo's US site has created a new, opt-out marketing communications preference page to keep consumers informed about Yahoo’s range of offerings,” Featherstone says. The aim is “to [inform users] about products and services available today that were not available when they registered with Yahoo, some as many as five years ago, she says.
“The preferences page is aimed at helping users manage communications from Yahoo. Many customers have asked to hear about our latest product updates/services and this allows them to choose which ones they are interested in and which ones they are not.
“The new communication preferences will not take effect until at least 60 days after we have individually mailed users with details of the changes.”
I should not have a marketing preferences page, Featherstone says, since I am registered at yahoo.co.nz, not yahoo.com. However, on being told of the change, by a US-based user in a Yahoo discussion group, I emailed Yahoo support on March 25 and received, on April 4, a return message containing a URL for a marketing preferences page pertaining to my account.
Featherstone says she cannot explain this. “All I can think of is that it must have been a sample page, showing people who had inquired what the preference page looked like,” she says. But this seems unlikely as it had this reporter's Yahoo account name and personal information, and responded to my setting all the preference markers back to "no".
Meanwhile, Featherstone says rumours of Yahoo charging for its email service in the near future are unfounded. There are no plans to change the free Yahoo email account, she says. Yahoo has, for as long as 18 months, offered accounts with larger email boxes for a charge.