Online business buys e-mail list

Gabe Davis

E-mails from businesses have been cropping up in ISU e-mail accounts, and ISU officials said it is due to open records laws., an Internet business, has been sending weekly e-mails to students’ university e-mail accounts since the beginning of the school year. The e-mail includes a list of local businesses’ coupons and specials and is not affiliated with North Grand Mall. The list may range anywhere from five to 15 businesses, including restaurants, pizza joints, job advertisements and jewelry, department and grocery stores. Kevin Buck, owner, said the site offers many benefits for students. “We’ve had really good deals. Better than you’re going to get anywhere else,” he said. Assistant Registrar Judy Minnick said the university is required to give out the list through the Iowa open records law. Minnick said the e-mail list costs 2.5 cents per name, adding up to $615 for the whole list. The $615 covers basic manual labor for providing the list. “By the Iowa open records law we can’t discourage it, but we definitely don’t promote it,” Minnick said. Minnick said if students don’t want their names to be given out, they can go to the Registrar’s Office and fill out a form to have it removed. She said the university also tries to encourage list buyers to provide students with an easy way to take their name off the list. Buck said he understands that some students may not appreciate this type of advertising, and he includes a footnote on the e-mails so that students can unsubscribe if they want. “It’s not out there to upset people,” he said. “Out of the 24,600 e-mails, maybe 200 have unsubscribed.” Minnick also said the is one of the few businesses that has asked for the list this school year, and she has received the most complaints about it. “Really, that’s the big one, and that’s the one we hear about most of all,” she said. Buck purchased the e-mail list to sell advertising spaces to local businesses. He said he charges $700 for a week of advertising on his Web page and in his corresponding e-mails. He said so far the results have been exactly what he was hoping for. “The advertisers have been very pleased with it,” Buck said. “It’s a medium like all other mediums; all of them have their niche whether it’s television or newspapers.” While the e-mail messages do provide students with information about area businesses, some are not sure whether or not they like the service. “I read it, but I wouldn’t look at any of the sites or go to any of the things or take any of the offers,” said Keith O’Brien, junior in pre-business. “I don’t know how they got my name.” Other students do not think the messages are a hindrance. “I kind of like it,” said Tim Nordin, senior in physics. “I haven’t used any of the deals yet, but sometimes I’m like, `Oh, I should use that.’ I don’t feel harassed or anything though.”