Why do you need to know that?

picture of a shadowI just followed a link (from a trusted source) to an online book seller – not Amazon or Smashwords or any of the big sites, this is clearly a personal site. Fair enough. That way the seller gets all the profit. The book looked interesting, so I clicked on “buy now” and a screen appeared, asking me to enter my details. And those fields were compulsory.

  • First Name is a required field.
  • Last Name is a required field.
  • Phone is a required field.
  • Email is a required field.
  • Confirm Email is a required field.
  • Address is a required field.
  • City is a required field.
  • Enter a valid ZIP/Postal Code.
  • State is a required field.

Really? I’m buying an e-book (print wasn’t an option) and paying via Paypal. One of the advantages of Paypal is all that name and address stuff is held in a (relatively) secure database and doesn’t have to be provided to all and sundry.

Sorry, folks, but you just lost a sale.

I’ve been bitten before, you see. I bought some software that looked the goods for something I needed to do. I was expected to register first, as is often the way with software. I did wonder why they needed my home address – but what the hell. To cut a long story short, the software was a scam. It didn’t work and there was no way of getting my money back. I’d paid via a credit card and immediately rang the bank to cancel the card. I’d learnt a valuable lesson. Now, I only provide my REAL address if I think it’s needed, such as when an item has to be shipped to me.

The way I see it, if I go into a bookshop to buy a book, I grab it from the shelf and take to the counter, where the clerk takes my money, no questions asked. If I buy an e-book from the internet, I accept that the vendor needs to verify that I have the funds for the transaction. But that’s where my obligation ends. No, you don’t need my home address, or my phone number. If you insist, then I have to wonder what you’re going to do with it. Sell it to a mailing house?

So what do you think? Are you happy to tell your life story before you’re allowed to hand over your hard-earned money?



23 thoughts on “Why do you need to know that?

  1. Frank Mikes

    Hi Greta, I’ve got no problem with my address – I live in a nice little town so if salesmen, etc. are going to come to my door, they will anyway. If they want to send me garbage – I get a ton of catalogs anyway, I can just throw that out with the rest.

    The real danger is your date of birth. A few years ago I was checking into my Superannuation and the only security question they asked me was my DoB. In one case, they asked my address but I had moved since then but as long as I knew my name and DoB, they were happy to change the address to anything I wanted – even roll over my super to different funds.

    Beware and guard your date of birth jealously. Don’t put it on Facebook or anything similar.

    1. Greta van der Rol

      Well, well. That’s a bit slack. Surely they asked for account numbers and the like? You should see what it’s like trying to get into our Super fund. It ain’t that simple. But, true, DoB is an important question for most of them.

  2. Kayelle Allen

    I’m with you. I back off and don’t get the product. I also don’t like sites where you have to hand over your email info to download a free ebook. I understand why they do that — they want to build a relationship — monetary or otherwise. I skip the free ebook and keep my privacy. There are other ways to get the information they’re offering.

    1. Greta van der Rol

      Sure. And if you don’t mind, that’s fine. As long as you don’t mind being bombarded with promotional emails. Just another argument against this tendency to want personal information.

  3. Richard Leonard

    I’m with you on this. I’ve been looking at getting solar panels and I’m finding that just for an online quote they want your name address and phone number. Roof type, number of storeys, email address I can understand. Name, just to be polite in the greeting perhaps, but there is no other reason. Phone number? Shouldn’t be needed. Home address shouldn’t be needed either, really. Why would the price be different for a different location? Post code, maybe for rough location but that’s all. Actually I recently read an article about using the post code for selective pricing, too. They know people in rich suburbs are prepared to pay more than poorer suburbs and companies price accordingly. It’s rough.

  4. Dianna

    I do not buy or join anything if the forms try to lead me into revealing personal/financial info. I use PayPal; the seller knows he will get his money, I don’t have to give the seller my personal/financial info, and I am mostly protected from credit card fraud. Identity theft is easy enough without handing out who, what, where, when.
    Back when it was popular for password security to ask for someone’s mother’s maiden name a friend of mine would tell them she didn’t have one because she was raised by wolves ( knowing her, it was probably true)…still, nobody should give real answers to those questions.

  5. Rachel Firasek

    Most addresses are personal record and with today’s technology, if someone wanted to find you they can. With E-piracy at its highest, I understand why some people are making records of every purchase, however, I normally won’t buy from a direct site unless I can go through paypal. That’s how I protect myself. So, I hope whoever you tried to buy from gets that option soon. It’s better for everyone. πŸ™‚ Great topic for ranting though. πŸ™‚

  6. Steven J Pemberton

    I wouldn’t buy an ebook from an author’s personal site anyway (I like the convenience of pressing “Buy Now” on Amazon and having the book on my Kindle in under a minute), but yeah, I wouldn’t be happy about handing over my real address for virtual goods. You don’t know who they’re going to sell it to, or how careful they’ll be about stopping criminals from getting it.

    I could understand it if you were paying by credit card directly, where they could check whether the address you’d given was the one the card was registered at, to help prevent fraud, but Paypal is supposed to take care of that. (Then again, if the transaction is later reported as fraudulent, doesn’t Paypal take the money back from the seller anyway?)

    I can think of two reasons (well, three, if you count, “The author just didn’t think about it.”). One is that if the author wants to sell his customer database, it’s more valuable if it has real-world addresses in it. The other is that the author probably didn’t write the payment processing code himself. He either uses a third-party website or some code that he bought and copied into his own site. It either doesn’t have the option not to ask for a real address, or he didn’t tell it not to ask.

  7. Pete

    I don’t give out those details because I send a small child out alone to pick up the product for me, and he has a name tag in his coat.

  8. MonaKarel

    I’ve kept a PO Box for years, partially so I can maintain a level of privacy. My physical address is not as much of a mystery as I’d like, given the search engines out there but I’m not putting a lighted sign up pointing to where I live. When they ask for my birth date or Social Security number without an extremely good reason I’m out of there.

  9. Andrew McAllister

    I totally agree Greta. Our watch word has to be “protect thyself” when entering information online. If this was a personal site, then it could be that the site owner simply doesn’t understand online privacy norms, but you can’t count on that. …although I did have to grin when WordPress treated ’email’ as a mandatory field in order for me to leave this comment πŸ™‚

    1. Greta van der Rol

      I don’t mind having to leave an email address. That’s a form of protection for people online – at least you have a point of reference – and a way of working out if this is spam. If some site selling penis enlargements is leaving a comment on my blog, I doubt if it’s a genuine commenter.

  10. Diane Nelson

    I’ve noticed this trend increasing exponentially. And I heartily agree: they do *not* need that information. Ergo, lost sale.

  11. pattyjansen

    Agree. This is none of their business. This is also one of the reasons I have a P.O. box. No one will need to know my home address and I can still have stuff sent to me.

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