Everyone hates spam.

That was the undeniable conclusion of a survey of 21,102 people conducted by the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, a forum of 64 consumer organizations in the United States and Europe. The forum develops and agrees on transatlantic trade policy recommendations that are made to the European Commission and U.S. government.

Ninety-six percent of the people surveyed they hated spam or it annoyed them. Eighty-four percent–17,753 people–said all unsolicited commercial e-mail should be banned, and 82 percent–17,197 people–said governments should allow commercial e-mail to be sent only if the recipient has agreed in advance to receive it.

Outrage over unsolicited commercial e-mail is a worrisome trend for real estate brokers and salespeople because e-mail newsletters and other solicitations and communications are now a mainstay of real estate marketing. As spam becomes all the more hated and problematic, people will be less likely to open unfamiliar or not-immediately-recognizable messages.

Eighty-three percent of those who completed the TACD online survey said they believed that most spam e-mail is fraudulent or deceptive, and 80 percent of the people favored a requirement that unsolicited commercial e-mail be labeled as an advertisement.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed–13,775 people–said spam cost them or their employer time or money. Slightly more than 13,000 people said they use a spam e-mail filter, but only 3,565 people said such filters generally worked very well.

Wider usage of spam filters could block many real estate e-mail messages from reaching the intended recipient’s e-mail inbox.

Another worrisome finding for legitimate e-commerce was that 52 percent of those surveyed–10,895 people–said they shop online less or not at all because they are worried about spam. And 91 percent said that they were concerned about children’s exposure to spam.

The spam survey was conducted online in multiple languages from Oct. 8 through Dec. 8, 2003.

The survey organizers said in a statement that the percentages of people from different countries who selected the same answers were remarkably similar.

“It would seem that there is global agreement that spam is unacceptable,” TACD said.


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