Time for a bit of a rant, so are you sitting comfortably?
Following the demise of my last less than trustworthy model, I find myself in need of a new printer. I was going to order one online, but as I am going out on an event/tour tomorrow I thought it would be nice to print off some documents, so ran over to the shopping centre to quickly buy a replacement from a shop.
Where I live, I have the choice of a Dixons Currys Digital or a Waitrose which also sells a small range of computer stuff. Waitrose were out of stock of the basic model I wanted, so – alas, it was off to Currys to see what they have.
I tend to avoid the shop as they play thump, thump, thump music in there and just walking past is usually enough to make me cringe. Today, the music was still there, but at a tolerable level. What is it with most domestic appliance retailers and their passion for loud heavy bass music?
Saw a basic printer, but also spied a reasonable priced wireless model and thinking this would be a useful addition picked up that one and took it to the till (yes, it’s self service for printers).
Everything was fine, put my credit card in the swipe thingy and then the salesperson asked me for my home address.
It’s for the warranty – they need it.
No they don’t – I’ll be perfectly happy with just a normal till receipt.
A pained look of confusion and a conversation with a colleague.
Yes – my address details are mandatory and they can’t carry on the transaction without them.
Sorry, I reply (being generous as I was less than sorry at this point), but there is no need for my address details for a mere warranty and I have no intention of handing over personal information to them.
We hit an impasse and after another pained attempt to extract my address from me, I said I was refusing to buy the printer, took back my credit card and walked out.
So, I still can’t print off the details for tomorrow.
You might think I was being difficult – but I have my reasons for not handing out my personal details at a mere whim of a retail shop.
Now, I actually used to work for Dixons Group about a decade ago, and periodically write for a living about consumer electronics, so have a moderately decent idea of is and is not needed for warranties.
Had I been buying a TV or DVD player, then my details are indeed required – by law – for the TV license authority to check I have a license. However, for any other item there is absolutely no need for my home address to be handed over for the warranty as the till receipt (or suitable proof of purchase) is enough.
If a customer did hand over their details and also hadn’t brought an extended warranty you knew they would get a letter a month later trying to sell one to them, and a series of reminders when the manufacturers warranty expired.
I had already said that I was happy to have just an ordinary till receipt, and when I worked at the company we could tab past the address details on the computer/till if a customer didn’t want to hand them over. Now – apparently it seems that is not possible, and the company would rather lose a sale than lose a chance to collect my home address details.
That itself raises suspicions.
The two till boys assured me that my details wouldn’t be used for any marketing purposes – so why is it that the company would prefer to lose the sale if faced with a customer who didn’t want to hand over their address details? Something doesn’t quite add up.
In an age where we are exhorted by government bodies to protect our personal details – where companies like Dixons Group sell paper shredders so we can protect ourselves from ID thieves, we have a company demanding to collect my personal details for no apparent reason.
When retailers are being routinely (it seems) hacked into and governments are losing CDs left right and centre – should I hand over my personal details to a retailer without considering the implications?
I think not.
Had I walked into that store, and been approached by a top quality salesperson who guided me through the product choice and won my trust in their expert product knowledge – then just maybe I would have been more comfortable with the idea of handing over my address details.
As it was, I spent a good 5 minutes looking at the products and trying to make out the tiny tickets with product specs and work out what I wanted. I then had to help myself to a box and take it to a till.
No – the retailer had not put in any effort to win my trust, and as a result I refuse to hand over my private home address details to them.
I get very little junk mail at home – simply because I refuse to hand over my home address details without a damn good reason, and buying a cheap printer is not even close.