Given the recent brouhaha over AOL eventually phasing out its enhanced white list in favor of a "pay to play" model, I just have to tell you: the company that spammed me is none other than Goodmail, the company that will soon be charging you for assured e-mail delivery.
That's right: I received spam from Goodmail (actually, a PR agency on its behalf). We had no prior business relationship, the e-mail was not identified as advertising, and there was no unsubscribe mechanism or physical address. While the claim is that Goodmail's accreditation will help eliminate the problem of spam to the benefit of all, the actions of this company certainly make one wonder.
The thing I love about the study of economics is the clarity that it provides in situations like this. Economics is not about what should happen, but what will happen when people act in their own best interest.
It is clearly in the ISPs' best interest to get a fraction of a cent on every e-mail sent. They deliver an audience any business-to-consumer e-mailer needs to reach.
But what's in the audience's best interest? If they choose to receive your e-mail, they should be able to receive it. If you have a strong brand and a great program (like Daily Candy) they may even be unhappy if they don't receive it. What would happen if e-mail publishers posted a notice on their site that they would no longer be able to deliver to certain ISP mailboxes after a certain date? Would consumers complain? Would they move to Gmail?
It's food for thought. Can e-mailers short-circuit this e-mail tariff by pointing out its shortcomings to those it purports to serve?