Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wrong Way Information

Shouldn't businesses spend more of their behind-the-scenes time and effort on improving relations with current and potential customers? And less on how they can benefit by sharing our personal information?

Two unrelated incidents this week bring this to mind. Recent researched from Stanford University shows how a lot of major companies are equipped to share our information without us knowing it (until now).

Granted, the report profiled in the link above is very technical. But even the basic parts of the article, such as showing how logging in to the Wall Street Journal web site (without using the true password) sent the user's e-mail address to 7 outside companies, tell us a lot of what is going on these days.

The other incident was having a question for a large company, only to go on to their web site, and not find any way to ask anyone or contact them easily.

This has me starting to check the web sites I use or would use to make a purchase or execute some sort of financial transaction. If I have a question before I purchase, I should be able to easily contact someone from that company, even if by a link to an e-mail, to get an answer.

Maybe I need to have better faith in businesses these days. After reading the above-linked research, I am instead worried that if it were as easy as it should be to contact them online, they would be selling my information to others before responding to my query.

The above-linked article goes on to show how Home Depot, NBC, and other companies are sending our user names and other information to other companies even though their privacy statements show otherwise.

There needs to be a better way for consumers to GET information from these companies instead of giving it.