How To Lose A Customer, The Classmates Way

Classmates.com, I have always thought, was such a great, simple, idea. Make the barrier to entry low for people to register themselves as being part of a given high school or college class, let former classmates reconnect after “all these years”, etc., etc. Sitting in the middle collecting money from the people who actually want to originate messages, or set up reunions is just “Easy Money”, especially if it’s done right.
However, like a lot of people, I know that “everyone I give my e-mail address to, or at least most, re-sell that information to other people, even when I tell them not to.” It’s just a fact of life. So, since I own my own domain, I create custom addresses for different companies. American Express might have one address. My credit union has a different one. Then, if I get spam, I can look at the recipient and see “who sold my address against my wishes and gets to lose my business.”
Amusingly, this isn’t about that particular problem with Classmates. Classmates has been fastidious about not sharing my address with anyone.
However, they do now seem to have a problem with the fact that my address they’ve got on file is classmates@XXXXXXXXXX. They tell me “that address is denied.” When I tried to get them to explain why it’s denied, what I got back is crazy-talk:

A recent audit of our database revealed that the vast majority of registrations that were using Classmates as the username were not legitimate registrations, but instead were bogus registrations listing the names of people who do not really exist. This resulted in large numbers of fake names being added to the various directories on our site.
Since our members rely on our ability to keep them connected with other members, it has always been a top priority to ensure that our database is as accurate and up-to-date as it can possibly be. As such, the decision was made to deny anyone from registering on our site using an email address that contains Classmates. This decision has helped our efforts to establish a database that contains only the names of “real” people that our members can actually connect with.

I’m sorry, how again does restricting the use of “classmates” in the e-mail address prevent people from signing up fictitiously? Short answer: It doesn’t.
Long answer, though, is that in reality, it’s Classmates.com’s way of ensuring that addresses which are submitted to it don’t explicitly tag themselves as “being given to classmates”. In other words, they want my “real” address, and not the alias, so that there’s no ability in the future to track down if they sell my contact info to someone else.
So, I told them to either allow me to use that address, or they’d lose my business. Frankly, these days, Google is a lot more useful for “high school reconnecting” than Classmates is, so it’s not like they’re bringing a lot to the table. They told me no. Oh, well, c’est la vie.

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