The Haunting – Trial Accounts That Wouldn't Die


As I move about the web looking for applications and services to test and review, I appreciate that most offer a free basic plan. I really like this because the marketing, screencasts and FAQs can only do so much.

There really is nothing is as effective as taking something out for a spin to get a sense of how it works or how it fits into your routine. Also, for my articles here I like to provide experiential reviews, not just a regurgitation of a press release.

So I create an account, enter in some test data, a fake project, dummy tasks, imitation contacts, whatever. I putter around for a bit and then I likely abandon it. Either it doesn’t work, I don’t really need it, it was just for a review, there could be a number of reasons really. I would say that there are hundreds of accounts I have left behind with services I have no intention of revisiting.

But these accounts don’t really die – they continue to haunt me.

Some send me daily updates on my fake projects or reminders for dummy tasks overdue. Ima Testuser has yet another birthday! They let me know that they have updated their service or added a new feature. A redesign, more file space, blah blah blah.

But I’m done. I came, I saw, I wasn’t impressed and I left. If after 90 days I haven’t decided that your alerts about my “test task 1” being overdue are worthy of a single login, it should be safe for you to assume that I’m really not all that concerned about it.

I know I could likely go back change my alert settings or delete my account entirely but that entails visiting the site, remembering or retrieving a password, navigating settings screens, etc..

How about giving me a link in the email to do this? A one click unsubscribe master account “delete me” button that lets me opt out once and for all with no fuss.

Please let my account die gracefully, peacefully and with dignity. Your attempts to revive it only embarrass it and highlight its failures. We’ll both be better off this way.

Do you have trial accounts that still pester you? How do you get rid of them once and for all?


Matthew Quinlan

I run my own simple email server and create custom aliases whenever I signup for something. This way I can unsubscribe by simply deleting the email alias from my mail server and all of their mailings just bounce. I like this approach better than just using a freemail account like Yahoo/Hotmail because it allows me to see if some company is sharing/selling my contact info without my consent :)

You’d be amazed at some of the large companies I’ve caught violating their own privacy policy.


@The Duh, sure for internal testing… personally, I’ve never provided a way for ‘real’ users to easily unsubscribe in the way described. I know a lot of devs and I’m not aware of any that have done that either. External reviewers are an overlooked segment.


I tried testing this site and it has been spamming all my contacts ever since the last 6 months or so!
I tried mailing them few times to delete my account and of their spamming practices but received no respite. It still sends invites regulalry me to my gmail contacts asking them to join Tringme.
I am not at all able to close this account!

The Duh

You’re either slow, or this was a throwaway post.

I think everyone who tests web apps provides the company a dummy email address that they don’t check on a daily basis (i.e. check only if a service requires you to activate an account).

Problem solved, no more crying.


Well, if the site has a public profile, then what I recommend is making links to either sites you use, or for SEO purposes.

Lawrence Salberg

Harumph! This is like the 3rd WWD post that virtually snaked my idea right off my blog.

Okay, well at least this one is kind of original. I hadn’t thought about the idea of a “delete my account” email when I first complained of these startups using our accounts as fodder for publicity and future rounds of financing. I put the onus on us to get rid of these accounts and bankrupt their vast volumes of data on us – for which they don’t provide a worthwhile service (anymore). I called it Delete Unused Accounts Day and proposed that we have a national day set aside to remind everyone to pour through their email to do just that. You could even set up a folder (er, label in Gmail) to stick all these bothersome reminders until that day arrived.

Of course, gaining traction for any idea on the internet has become next to impossible with all the noise out there so I expect that few people will take to this – simply because there are no leaders on the net anymore. Unless Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or maybe some conglomerate of tech leaders (Dvorak, Arrington, Zuckerburg, Yang, etc) come out and push the idea, we’ll all slowly reveal ourselves over 1,000 useless services over the next decade – whose data will wind up on floppies in the dust bin when they all go Chapter 11. Okay, maybe CD-ROM’s in some college kids dorm room when he decides to shut down his Web 2.0 defunct startup and go back to college and get a degree in Dentistry.

And I also later found out how impossible it can be to cancel some accounts which I wrote about here.

Is “” available? Maybe we could start a rating service of websites on how easy they make it cancel our accounts.

Roger Waggener

If you use gmail (and why wouldn’t you?) simply add “+whateveryouwant” after your username.

For instance, if you are use

The messages to this address with the + in it will be delivered as normal, but now they have an attribute you can quickly and easily filter on and delete without archiving.

The only downside is some less-aware email verifiers reject the + in that case use a – instead.G


hmm.. i’ll keep this in mind when I finally launch my first indy app. at least that way my app will be considerate even if not worth re-considering. (which I hope it will be worthwhile for others)

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