Earlier today I got a phone call from my Web site hosting/domain name provider, as one of my domains is set to auto-renew.
Customer Service Rep: Mr. Maki?
Me: Yeah, what?
CSR: This is blah blah from blah blah. I’m calling to talk about your account.
CSR: Well, one of your domains is set to renew and -
Me: I know. I got the e-mail.
CSR: Well, I’d like to review your options for -
Me: No. I said I got the e-mail. I’m at work. I don’t want to talk to you. Don’t bother me.
When I got home I had a postcard from Home Depot in the mail with some special offer, predicated on the fact that my birthday is coming up.
Basically, “Happy Birthday! Come give us money!”
It occurred to me then that so many companies sell assorted “extended service plans” and various other extras – and also sell your information to anyone and everyone who’s willing to pay for it – but the one extra that I wish they would sell is what I call the “Leave Me The Hell Alone Service Plan.”
Basically, when you purchase your goods and services, you have the option to pay a little extra to never be bothered again. No phone calls. No e-mails unless they’re specifically providing necessary information (like the fact that one of your domains is expiring). No “birthday greetings.” Zip. Nada.
Seriously, I bought your damn widget: why are you punishing me by calling me and inundating me with junk mail?
It’s especially irritating when the communication is essentially just a reminder that the company exists. I know you exist. I bought something from you, remember? That’s how you know that I exist.
I was perfectly capable of deciding to buy from you before, so what makes you think I need help doing it again? Did you honestly think I forgot? “Oh, right, there’s a place called Home Depot! I would have never remembered that in a million years if I hadn’t gotten this phony birthday greeting!”
Similarly, you could pay to not have your address sold to other companies.
Sure, there might not be enough of an incentive, given that the one-time “Leave Me The Hell Alone” fee wouldn’t generate as much revenue as selling my information, but think about the savings. You don’t have to pay people to call me and have to put up with me being rude and dismissive. (And I totally am. I know it’s not their fault and they’re just doing their jobs, but I have zero patience for unsolicited contact from random people, and my concern is not for their feelings, as my empathy is overpowered by my desire to put an end to this unwanted interaction as quickly – and decisively – as possible.) You don’t have to pay for the cost of printing up phony birthday greetings or other junk mail.
I honestly have to wonder how much return on their investment they actually get even given that most people aren’t as antisocial and actively hostile as I am anyway Is it really worth the bother of bothering people?
I suppose it must be, but I’m sure there’s money to be made from my idea as well, and it actually more or less amounts to extortion, which should be appealing to the black-hearted gangsters who run most corporations.