Real crappy marketing

Slashdot is running a story on the crappy marketing techniques that Real Networks is using to fool you into not opting out from mailing lists. I sometimes wonder how long it takes for people to realize things like that, since Real has been accumulating these tricks for years. Specifically:
  • preventing linking to the free player download page: you must go through the home page so they can sell ads on it
  • tricking you with "Free download" messages but carefully hiding the free player in favor of the pay-for one. Burry the free player behind at least two more pages, on which the link to the free player is always replaced by a link to the pay-for version, the free one being reduced and moved elsewhere than where the mouse stands, preferably out of sight
  • ask for email addresses twice, once before download, once when configuring the client, just in case the user has changed in between (note to self: webmaster@real.com doesn't work anymore, I guess s/he had enough having Real spamming this address). Use system tricks to find out the user's real email address on the computer
  • carefully hide the important opt-out check boxes within a combo box with scroll bars. Average users (read the vast majority of them) will notice only the first four choices that are not checked by default and be happy to see that Real is an "opt-in" shop while it's precisely the contrary if you scroll below the first visible choices to discover plenty of checked crap that you have to opt-out from
Five years ago, I said to a former Netscape colleague who was being interviewed for a marketing position at Real that they had the worst marketing techniques on the Internet. I think they've just improved on that over the years.

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