Fred says we are selling your inbox

My pal Fred says we’re (AOL that is) selling user inboxes because we’re moving to Goodmail, which charges folks to get certified in order to send email as opposed to using our old Whitelist system (which allowed folks with good ratings to get right in). Fred would rather we use one of his portfolio companies’ (Return Path) solution.

I don’t know a lot about this issue (Fred’s post was the first time I’ve even heard of this). So, some questions for Fred:

1. How does Return Path make money with their program? They charge folks who send email to get certified right? Seems like Goodmail charges a fraction of a penny per email–how does that differ?

2. You’re saying AOL is selling folks inbox–that’s not exactly true is it? Isn’t more correct to say that for folks who has permission to email a person AOL is charging them to get certified to send the message? When you say selling your inbox that says to me that you’re letting folks spam folks who have NOT opted in. It’s not like you’re going to start getting spam, but rather if you signed up for (opted in) to offers from a company that company can pay to ensure you get them (basically taking the burdon off AOL to police all the spammers). If I’m misunderstanding this please explain.

3. Was Return Path competing for this business against Goodmail? Why did they lose?

I’m honestly interestd in your response, as I can have an impact on these issues within AOL.

Updates:

  1. Fred responds in my comments. It seems that Return Path charges a monthly fee for being white listed/certified, Goodmail charges on a per email basis to be Whitelisted/certified. AOL has maintained a Whitelist themselves to to police email in the past–it’s not clear if that Whitelist will continue or if everyone will be told to just use Goodmail. The way I look at it, if I’m a good sender why should I have to pay (i.e. I’m a non-profit, a small publisher, or your bank) anyone including Return Path’s monthly fee or Goodmail’s per email fee.
  2. Some feedback from another AOLer who thinks Fred is jumping the gun.
  3. The CEO of Return Path makes his plea that the AOL White List remain in place–I think that’s a good idea.

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