Monday, January 14, 2008

Permission to call

phoneRequiring me to input a phone number when I book a room at your hotel does not give you permission to market to me on my phone.

Tonight at 8:30PM I got a call from Wyndham Hotels.  The person calling referenced a stay I made a few months ago and proceeded to launch into a promotional rate deal for next month.  As soon as I could get a word in edgewise, I asked the person what time it was where she was calling from -- she responded that she showed me as being in the mountain time zone (I'm assuming the system generates this information from my area code or billing zip or something).  She then informed me that state law allowed her to call up until 9PM at which point I responded with: "I'm going to allow you to stop bugging me now."

Here's the thing: if you require me to input information (i.e., I can't complete a reservation without giving you my phone number) that you are going to to turn around and use to market to me, you have to give me the ability to opt out or, even better, default to assuming that I opt out and allow me to opt in.  We're all used to this with entering our e-mail addresses, but are companies so desperate that they are now mining other required information because interruption e-mails aren't working (or are easy to opt out of by unsubscribing or ignoring)?  That's a pretty scary trend if true.

If you're a company, you can't force your consumers to engage with you by taking advantage of information that you require them to provide to you.  The end result is that you break the consumers' trust: at the least they stop patronizing your business and at most they may try to form class-action lawsuits.

Although I've had a GrandCentral account since they started handing out beta invites and I don't regularly use it.  However, if direct contact via phone by companies becomes the norm, you can bet that I will start using more frequently if for no other reason but to prevent those that I don't want to be able to reach me without a filter from reaching me. 

Picture from Balakov  

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