Thursday Rant: The Info Grab

Sometimes I’ll be browsing around online and see an advertisement for an offer that actually interests me, so I’ll click it. For instance, I saw an ad for “Blockbuster by Mail” for $4 a month, and I wanted to get more details on that in case it was a better deal than Netflix.

In this type of situation, the next page I see is always on the advertiser’s own site, which is expected. But rather than giving me information about what they’re advertising, what they’re offering me, and why I might be interested, the first step many companies take is to ask for my information. They ask for my name, email address, home address, whatever they think they can get. There’s usually no concrete, “Here’s what we’re offering you,” on the first page.

Instead, the info grab says, “We’re afraid you’re going to leave quickly when you see we’re not offering a compelling deal, and we’re kinda desperate. Please give us additional ways through which we can advertise to you so we get something out of you before you leave.” In a more subtle way, the info grab says, “We don’t really love our product, and we’re not confident you will either,” because their first actions are protection and mitigation instead of sharing information with me about their product. It’s not a conversation. It’s a game of frickin’ chess.

They fail in their attempts, anyway. I close the window every time. I never even found out whether Blockbuster’s deal was any good, because I won’t do business with a company that puts itself first in lame ways like that. I’m all for capitalism! Go ahead, make money off me. But a savvy, cut-throat consumer is the other pillar that supports the capitalist system. If you suck, you don’t get my money. End of story.

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