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I recently made a code download & errata request for a Packt book. After I had submitted the request the website did three unexpected things:

  1. It registered a new Packt account with the entered email, and never asked for permission or a password.

  2. It automatically logged me into the Packt account without my permission and cached my browser with these Packt account credentials.

  3. It automatically subscribed me to all their advertising without my permission.

I was surprised with this policy so I sent an email to Packt support to remove the account. The support auto-reply says they are committed to replying within 24 hours, but they haven't replied in over a week. Which begs to ask another question about auto-replies, but I'll save that for later.

Packt could have easily informed a new user to register an account and subscribe to their services. The user might already be a member in which case they just need to login. Many people have multiple email accounts so it is better to let them choose the email in which to create the account

Is this a good way to increase subscriptions to your website, and is it legal? Should you always ask/tell the user your intentions first?

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    You seem to know the answer to this already and, as such, this comes across more of a rant. A valid rant, mind you. – DA01 Aug 16 '15 at 17:24
  • Seems like business strategy beats out UX strategy if profitability is the end goal. This large company can create the impression of rapidly growing accounts and drives out competition by lowering prices. They then attract more authors and investors. – Paul Aug 17 '15 at 20:10
  • sounds about right--especially if this is a startup – DA01 Aug 17 '15 at 20:18
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This question can't really be answered correctly, so here's one answer to annoy everyone.

This publisher is doing the UX right, it makes everything easy for you. Just one click, and you're registered, logged in and subscribed to their advertising.

Or maybe not:

  1. The legalness of this process depends on your / the publisher's country's law.

  2. I want to know where I'm registering and how my details are used, that form seems pretty nasty, it says "Please register your e-mail address to download files. We will e-mail you with a direct link to the code download.", but doesn't really tell you the privacy policies and subscriptions that are detailed (and selectable) in the "registration" page.

"At any time you can change your preferences for how or if we contact you, or change the information that we hold. For email registrations where you do not have a full account and password set up, subscription options can be changed and authenticated through email."

So you need to change the automatically made subscriptions through email?

Sounds - and is - pretty annoying. (And if they're not even reacting to the emails.)

You can arm wrestle if this is wrong or right, I guess this kind of process that's invisible to the user annoys most, but some (one) might be really glad about this simple process.

  • Key customer grabbing in process.. – insidesin Aug 17 '15 at 9:10
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    Well, the publisher makes it easy to do what they want, not what you want. – Ken Mohnkern Dec 15 '15 at 3:43

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