“Here’s your first weekly e-mail from MerckEngage®” was the subject line of an email message I received today. The introduction says: “Whether it’s eating healthier, being more active, taking medicine, or learning about a specific health condition, MerckEngage can help you stay motivated—now with weekly e-mails. As requested, you’ll be receiving health information and tips that are right for you, even mouthwatering recipes based on foods you like and any dietary requirements you may have. Simply log in to select your meal preferences.”

I don’t remember opting in to join the merckEngage email list, but I assume I did. It must have been a long time ago though. Probably in 2011 sometime because that’s when MerckEngage won a Gold MM&M award for “excellence from online programs, including CRM programs that support patients that are already taking a particular therapy or using a particular medical device” (see here).

Also, in July, 2011, my blogger colleague Rich Myer — a “big fan of Merck” — wrote a blog post titled “Merck engage is not engagement at all” (here) in which he said “To me engagement is not a website with tools and information for patients. Engagement = conversation.”

Well, I don’t know if merckEngage now offers conversation or not, but I do know that Merck is trying to “engage” with me via email. The problem is, it comes a bit late; I have forgotten why I wanted to “engage” with Merck in the first place.

So, I decided to “opt out” of receiving further emails from merckEngage. That’s when I began to have problems.

At the bottom of the email message from merckEngage is this statement: “You may have elected to receive e-mails and other online communications from Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. If you no longer wish to receive these e-mail communications from Merck, please click here to provide Merck your e-mail address for the sole purpose of this opt-out request. If you have trouble accessing this link, please send an e-mail to merck_privacy_office@merck.com with the subject line of E-mail Opt Out Request.”

I thought by simply clicking on “click here” as instructed I would be immediately removed form the list. Silly me! It seems I have to log in first to be able to unsubscribe (see screen shot below). Whaaa?

For the past few weeks I have been clicking “unsubscribe” links in dozens of spam email messages in order to get off lists I somehow got on just by visiting Websites. Most of the time this works fine – I click and wham, bam, thank you spam, I’m off the list and my email inbox now is manageable.

I have never encountered an opt out process such as the one merckEngage seems to be using. So, I went back to the opt out instructions at the end of the merckEnage email to see if I had other options. It was then that I noticed the link for “click here” is “https://www.merckengage.com/login.aspx?ReturnUrl= f99_Admin funsubscribe_email.aspx”, which is what led me to the page above. The code includes: “funsubscribe_email” which is either a combination of “f” and “unsubscribe” or “fun” and “subscribe.” Hmmmm! Does Merck think I’m having fun?

The opt out statement also says “please click here to provide Merck your e-mail address for the sole purpose of this opt-out request…” Dear Merck: You sent a message to my email address. Ergo, you must know my email address! Why should I have to provide you with my email address to unsubscribe? I’ve opted out of dozens of email lists and never had a problemlike this. Your “engagement” technology stinks.

So, because I forgot my username and password to this site a long, long time ago, I decided not to go through the convoluted process of retrieving that info just to opt out. Instead, I decided to send an email to merck_privacy_office@merck.com as instructed. I never received any email confirmation that my message was received nor that my email address was removed from the list. Perhaps my email ended up in Merck’s spam filter!

Maybe it’s me that has a problem? Maybe I’m just too stupid to figure this out? Nah! It’s Merck!