Wow! I'm glad you're finally home! I've been calling you all day. I tried to reach you at the office, but they said you would be in meetings all day. Usually, I can call one or two times and the secretary will interrupt the meeting for me. But then again, you aren't a run of the mill employee, the vice-president is always a little bit harder to track down.
Oh, I'm sorry! I'm Kevin, from Sunny Beaches Auto dealership. I am calling because I heard you were looking for a new Porsche. I just got the new '96 model in your favorite color, and I wanted to give you the first crack at buying it before I gave it to some random buyer. It has a sunroof, leather interior, premium stereo system - the works! This puppy is loaded! This would be the perfect get away car for you and your husband to leave the kids behind for the weekend, and go to the mountains. Speaking of kids, how is the baby, Nancy? She must be getting big by now, before you know it she'll be applying to your alma mater, MIT.
I'm sorry, I've gotten off the subject. I know you are looking for a car that won't put a huge strain on your budget because you are planning a big family vacation next summer. So how about $60,000? I'll hold it here until you come by to pick it up. OK? I'll be expecting you when you get off work around 7pm or so. How about it? I know you want to.
What do you mean you don't like my intruding into your life? I am trying to help you, so we can help each other. No, I haven't been following you around. Nowadays, I don't have to go through that kind of hassle to find great people like yourself. I just did a little research. You know, it surprises me we didn't find each other sooner! No need to call the police, I didn't break any laws. I just bought some information to help me find a person would could use my help - you!
Remember that survey you filled out at the Porsche dealer last week? You know, the one that entered you in the sweepstakes for a luxury cruise. On that survey, you said that you were looking for a new "weekend fun" car. I figured that someone making as much money as you would definitely want the top of the line model - needless to say it'd have to be loaded. I swung by your neighborhood one night and saw the two black cars in your driveway. By the way, you have a really nice house. I knocked on the door, but nobody answered. Oh, I think it was Wednesday. You were home? Oh, then it must have been Tuesday.
I got your name off that entry form, and a friend of mine loaned me the test- drive log from last week. All I just had to go to the DMV and look up your driver's license number. There are some really nice people down there, you know? Anyway, they gave me your address and social security number. I figured I would help you, by going ahead and doing a credit check so I could offer you financing on the spot. I hate making people wait while I talk to my boss about that stuff. I wish everyone that came in the door had credit like yours! You should consider teaching a class on that stuff. Oops, I forgot those idiot Republicans want to cut funding for public programs - haha! I hope we do better in the next round of Congressional elections. Did I mention that this would be a great anniversary gift? I heard from a friend at the Country Clerk's office that you are nearing "The Big One-Oh".
Say, I was wondering, what made you move up the coast anyway? I love the Los Angeles area. As a matter of fact, I am thinking of going back. Oh, the post office told me. I was in there mailing something and the clerk saw your address on a paper I was holding. He said you and Bill were a very nice couple. Can you hang on a minute? Someone is honking their horn at me. Hey buddy! I was here first! Get lost! Jeeze, the nerve of some people. I am about to pull into my parking space and some idiot tried to steal it from me. Boy, he'll be surprised when I mail him note of "appreciation". Oh, I am pulling into Shop-Rite to pick up some groceries. I'm actually in your area, you want me to pick you up some Ben & Jerry's Rainforest Crunch? No? What about some diapers? You should be running low by now. So how about buying that car? I know you want to.
Oh come on? You think it's a poor indication of where society is headed just because I know a little bit about you? You sound like Rob Kling and those other clowns. Never heard of 'em huh? They think that computer technology is going to destroy the social fabric of America. They made up this term called "Information Entrpreneurialism" and throw it around a whole lot in a long boring article. Basically, it refers to the people who use computers to search for information on people and then sell the information they gather. I wonder if those guys even work for a living. I know if I spent all day looking through files to collect information, and some guy wanted to see the results of my labor, I'd charge him too!
I wonder why those guys think peoples' privacy is threatened by information gathering. Well, no, not all of it is really pubic, but most of it is. The make some lame argument that every year a few managers start some kind of database to help their careers progress. Then they say that the accumulation of these databases will create a new social order. Isn't that the same kind of stuff that Orwell guy was talking about? Well, I got news for Kling and company, 1984 came and went - and I don't think the government cares one bit about what I ate for breakfast.
Let me ask you a question. If you were going to race a car in the Indy 500, would you try to use the best engine out there? If you were going into business making cookies, wouldn't you want as many customers as you could find? If your competition was using a new method that was cheaper and faster than the old way, wouldn't you try to keep up? So then, why shouldn't business men be able to purchase information from gatherers that use computers to help them?
Can you believe that Kling and his pals actually think that direct marketing is offensive? Well, you must be the exception. How could anyone be offended by someone offering them the help and services they need? I know if I were lost in the desert, and someone drove over to me and offered me a drink, I wouldn't be upset. I'd think it was great that they wanted to help me so much that they paid to get information about my whereabouts. Oh, really? But, didn't you e-mail a co-worker and say that you'd die for the new Porsche? No! I saw a printout in your company's trash. Honestly. No, I don't know how to get into your mail server, Rocketship.
I can't believe you think that I am on some kind of power trip! You sound like that Kling guy. I just like to know all I can about the people I do business with. This way, I can help them get what they want. I'd be wasting your time if I called about a car you didn't want, right? Well, your time is so important to me that I paid some people to make sure I had exactly what you wanted.
What do you mean? Of course I learned about ethics in my Marketing and Management courses. One of my books even listed the major privacy principles from some Federal report. I can't quite remember the name of the book, though. Actually, I'm not sure we actually discussed "privacy", but we were taught to be considerate to our customers. You should have heard the arguments I used to have with my boss. He went to school back in the 70's and he wanted us to spy on people who come into our store. Could you imagine? He wanted us to follow people around to find out where they live and what they do for a living. He also wanted us to keep track of the well-to- do people that come into the showroom. Well, some salesmen any I got together and told him there was no way we would spy on people. It's completely unethical!
You know aside from making sure you get calls from the right people, keeping computerized databases on people can help them save money! Imagine if someone stole your Visa card and went shopping at Circuit City for a new $4,000 Sony stereo system. You'd be really upset when you got the bill, right? Well, if Visa knew that you just bought a stereo last week, and you only buy JVC equipment from a mail order catalog, they could turn down the credit approval. Furthermore, they may even be able to get the store to arrest the thief on the spot! I bet Kling and his buddies never considered that.
That reminds me of some group that calls themselves the "Privacy Rights Clearinghouse". They think that keeping records about peoples' shopping patterns and buying habits is actually dangerous. If it is so dangerous, then why do so many people sign up for store credit cards and other services that will obviously be used to track their spending habits. Jeeze, it says right on the form that all kinds of information will be gathered whenever they use the card or service. What do people want, someone to sit down and explain every little detail to them? If they sign it, that means they read it.
I think the funniest thing about the PRC is that they base all of their claims on calls that they receive on the "Privacy Hotline". Let me ask you, who calls the police just to say that everything's fine on their block? Nobody, right? So who would call the hotline just to say that they are thrilled with the level of privacy they get? Who calls the hotline to say that they love the fact that salesman call from all over the country to offer them products they had been trying to find for months? Nobody. The only people that call are the few who are upset. Then the PRC writes reports claiming that most of the callers to the Hotline are upset about the amount of privacy they have. Of course they are, why else would they call? I wonder if the PRC keeps track of the complaints they receive. I bet they keep a log of the calls they get on a computer somewhere. Talk about hypocrites!
Let me ask you: have you ever called one of those private "Directory Assistance" numbers, rather than 411? Wouldn't it be great if they passed your number on to other, similar stores, so you wouldn't have to hunt them all down on your own? Boy, I tell you, technology is wonderful. It lets the stores come to you, rather having you travel all over the place trying to find the stores. Even better, these service providers could pass your number only to stores that you can afford to shop in, rather than every store in the city! Once this technology becomes really popular, it will be incredibly convenient for people to shop. I get all excited just thinking about it.
You know what else is so great about technology? It is really easy for me to share information with other salesman. A good friend of mine sells luxury Sailboats in the next town over. Every once in a while, he sees a customer drive up in an old, beat up car and finance a brand new boat based on the amount of money he makes and his credit history. On some days, I see people who are buying cars because they just got promoted and want to "spoil" themselves. Every month or so, we trade disks so he can call people to see if they want to spoil themselves with a new toy, and I can see if some of his customers are ready to trade in the old bomber for a new car.
Speaking of new cars, did I mention that the '96 Porsche has a spoiler on the back? It also gets great mileage, which will help during that long commute to the city everyday. How about I tell my detailer to start getting the car ready so you can come get it? It's a great car. I know you want to!
That's easy. This approach saves me money. Do you know how much it costs to just call random people and offer them a great bargain? What about mailing a few thousand letters? Hold a sec please. No, I don't have a frequent shopper card. No, I don't want one.? Out of 10,000 showroom catalogues we mailed last year, we received 6 orders. We barely recovered the cost of making and mailing the stuff - much less turn a decent profit. I realize that my financial situation doesn't concern you. No, you really have nothing to worry about when it comes to your privacy. Really.
We do business just like American Express. We let you know that you are in our database by calling - just like I am doing now. You can opt-out of our advertising my simply hanging up the phone. We never give out our database to other businesses, we keep all of our records internal. Oh, the friend that sells boats? My wife accidentally gave him my laptop. He felt bad so he lent me a copy of his files. You don't trust me? Why not, I've been honest so far. By the way, I am sorry to hear that your mother died last month. Oh, I read it in the paper while I was out there for business.
I don't know why you are so upset. Congressman Markey says that consumer should have three tools when it comes to electronic databases, and we offer you all three. You get knowledge and notice about our database when we call you. Plus, you can say "No" at any time. Wait! Hear me out first. It's not like I looked up your medical history or anything. I realize you've had a long day, but look at it from my perspective. I have been trying hard to track you down all day, and I've finally found you. Ever since we've used this approach, we get far more sales than the times we ran ads in the newspapers. I hope congress doesn't get too upset about direct marketing. I'd have to drive down there and tell them a thing or two if they try to pass some kind of regulation. By the way, did I mention that I drive a demo of the '96 model? It comes with Pirelli tires, just like the ones you have on your car now. Why don't you run down here and take it for a test drive? I know you want to.
Actually, I'm not surprised you think of me that way. I was reading an article the other day from _The Journal of Direct Marketing_ that had the results of a survey in it. It claimed that the public is far more concerned with privacy issues related to direct marketing than most direct marketers. Of course, that is just one article. I also read an article that said newspaper coverage of privacy issues has increased during the last few years. I tend to agree with Vincent Guiliano, who was quoted in the article. He says that newspapers are blasting direct marketers and portraying them as "intruders" because they are competing for advertising contracts. Direct Marketing is stealing business from TV and the press, so of course they are going to vilify us.
In fact, most direct marketers feel the same way I do. I feel like I am making your life easier. Well, like I said before you must be the exception. Nearly everyone I speak to feels that this is a convenient way to do business. Many of them are too busy to shop around and having salesman call them is a big time saver. I wonder how TV and the newspapers keep track of who is upset with direct marketing. I bet they keep it on a computer somewhere. What hypocrites.
Hey, slow down a minute. Privacy is not a constitutional right. Plus, it isn't my job to explain the laws to everyone I call. I took the time out to learn my rights as a citizen, if you were so concerned, you should have taken the time out to do it for yourself. Well, first of all, you should start with the Freedom of Information Act. This is one of the best laws I have ever seen. It makes all kinds of information available to the public. I just have to walk in and ask for it, and they have to give it to me. Usually I don't bother looking up individuals. I go to a company that pulls together all kinds of public information and tell them the kind of people I want to find. For a fair price, I can get over a hundred names of people to call or visit. If I went into the DMV and tried to look up a hundred people, they would say that my request was too big and turn me away. Using an information middleman is the best way to get the people you want.
No, I can't get anything I want about you from the public record. I can't interfere with an ongoing court case, or make a "clearly unwarranted invasion" of your privacy. But I can always dig up stuff like public court records, arrest records etc. Occasionally, I can get some "hot" information from a middleman, but I don't know where that information comes from. I don't even know how true it is. But for the price I pay for it, It'd better be true. No, I don't how you can check to see if these databases contain errors about you. I doubt they have errors though, the people that put this stuff together are good at what they do and they use good sources. Hmm, that's true. I guess you would be the best person to call about yourself.
In most cases though, I don't see how the information can be wrong. Most of it comes from the government or things that you fill to yourself. You know, like the survey you filled out on May 29th at the traffic light near your house. There was also the one you did while you were on line at the grocery store. Don't forget the product registration card you filled out while your kids finished opening their Christmas presents. By the way, I heard you bought a Sega Genesis - it's great. Little Joey must love it. Oh, I was visiting one of your neighbors and I saw the box in the trash outside your house. Umm, the Petersons. You know Bill and Mary, the couple that moved in from Cliffwood Beach, NJ. That's true, I guess you weren't really paying too much attention when you filled out that stuff, but how wrong could it be? Well what's the worst thing that could happen? You may get one or two useless phone calls. That's all. Speaking of phone calls, did I mention that the '96 model comes with a cellular phone - standard? You can even transfer your service from PacTel without changing your phone number. I knew you'd like that since you've had that same phone number for so long. Why don't you come down to the showroom and check it out. It's really a great deal. I know you want to.
Well, listen, I don't mean to cut you off, but we really gotta make a decision here. This is a great opportunity for you. I know you don't feel comfortable with me calling you at home like this. You should talk to my friend from MIT, Keith Bevans. You two sound like you're reading from the same script. He doesn't like the idea that people like me are able to learn so many personal things about him without his knowledge. Rather than have the option to say "No", he would rather be given the option to say "Yes" I want to be in your database. He keeps telling me that "my kind" are going to scare people so much, that they'll push for tight regulation of information industry. We both agree that lawmaker don't know enough about any of this to really fix the perceived problem. His biggest concern is that people will begin to collect information in an effort to blackmail people and commit other crimes. I keep telling him that crimes are things that law enforcement should worry about, and I am not a criminal. But he keeps telling me that if I am preying on people based on their race, economic status, gender, place of residence, etc. than I am guilty of discrimination. He says at least with newspaper advertising everyone knows they are getting the same offer. With direct marketing, he fears that rich people will get charged more, because the sales- people will know ahead of time how much they can afford. Then he usually rambles on about other examples.
What? You want to call him. Sure his home number is (617) 661-0598. If you want I can give you his work number. You know, Keith drives a car that I sold him. Actually, I bet you wish you were driving that Porsche right now instead of talking to me. I'll tell you what, $55,000 - this way you can get that swimming pool you wanted for the kids. Huh? You have to think about it? Sure. No problem. I'll call you again tomorrow. What? You'd rather call me? Sorry, I don't give out my home number, I hate when strangers call me.
1. "Inquiry on the Privaacy Issues Relating to Private Sector Use of Telecmmunications-Related Personal Information" from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse <
2. "Fact Sheet #4" Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
3. "Fact Sheet #11" Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
4. "Information Entrepreneuralism, Information Technologies and the Continuing Vulnerability of Privacy" by Kling, Ackerman, and Allen
5. "The Business of Privacy" by Judith Waltrop for _American Demographics_ October 1994
6. "The Beliefs of Marketing Professionals Regarding Consumer Privacy" by Taylor, Vassar, and Vaught for _Journal of Direct Marketing_
7. "Press Coverage and the Public Perception of Direct Marketing and Consumer Privacy" by Phelps, Gonzenbach, and Johnson for _Journal of Direct Marketing_
8. The Freedom of Information Act
9. "City of the Future" by Fraser, USD and Givens, PRC December 20, 1993