Thorntons Chocolates - not so sweet

I've been a member of the Thorntons Chocolates website for many years now. It's a UK based site, and I joined whilst living there - but since I've moved back to Australia, I've found it incredibly useful for sending presents to family members still there. This week though, I've requested that my account be cancelled, and it's all down to terrible usability.

I receive the odd special offer from Thorntons, but as Christmas has gotten closer the number of emails I receive from them has started to increase. Instead of one a month or so, it now seems as if every couple of days a new email appears. That made me think carefully about how often I've ordered from specials, and in turn that made me realise that in fact I never have. My usage profile is pretty simple; on my mums or sisters birthday I order chocs and send them, or alternatively order flowers from another site. Specials have no effect on me.

Therefore I decided to unsubscribe. And this is where it all went wrong...

As a user, there is nothing I love more than a simple unsubscribe process. Click here to unsubscribe, confirm your address, and wham that's done. It shows respect for the user.

Equally, there is nothing more frustrating than the opposite. Thorntons has a link to unsubscribe in their email, but when you follow it you simply end up at the front door of their website. Great.

So, I log in. Now I'm being forced to trawl through the site and try and figure out how to unsubscribe. Wonderful. I start by going to my account, and straight away I see an opt in question. It reads:

"If you do not wish to receive future e-mail communications about special offers and products from Thorntons please untick this box"

So do I tick it, or untick it? Reading it twice I figured unticking was the right thing to do. Only problem was, it was already unticked...! Sooo, what next?

There were no other options relating to email, but eventually I spotted a list of other menu options for my Account area. I could change my address, change my payment method, review and set alerts for birthdays, change my pasword - but absolutely nothing relating to email offers.

By now I'm getting a little steamed. When I received the email I was a happy customer who simply wanted to stop receiving special offer emails all the time, but by now I'm seriously looking to kill my account entirely. Only there's no option for that, either...

In final desperation I go back to the original email to see if maybe I clicked the wrong link. Nope. However, I do spot another link relating to unsubscribing. It reads:

"or click here to email us. (This may take up to 14 days)"

So, I can email them and then wait two weeks for a response. that's the power of the Internet working for you... Needless to say, I did email and this time I definitely asked for my account to be removed.

As a (hopefully now former) customer of Thorntons, this entire process left me feeling extremely under-valued. I was left with no choice but to think that Thorntons didn't care what I wanted, it only wanted it to make it as difficult as humanly possible for me to stop receiving their spam.

I'd love to think that Thorntons would realise how easily this loss could have been avoided - but then again, I'd love to believe in Santa, too.

*UPDATE: Six days later I still haven't received any form of response, and I've received two more unwanted emails. Thanks Thorntons...

Gary Bunker

the Fore