mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Monday, 28 April 2003

Amazon and Privacy

Amazon sent my wife a nice, juicy bit of SPAM this morning.

“Get the Platinum Visa card!” This despite her having her “Communication Preferences” set to not allow anything but legal notices. Are credit card offers legal notices, suddenly? Perhaps they mean to proactively sue us for bad debt before we incur it.

Of course, Amazon will say that they didn’t violate her privacy, because it was an in-house mailing; it’s only if she requests the card that her details will be sent to a third party. That isn’t the point; Amazon still chose to overrule her contact preferences, and they’ll likely do it again.

Looking at their privacy policy, it’s typical (for America; remember, US residents have no guaranteed privacy, except perhaps when they’re in a doctor’s office, and that’s still pretty flimsy). There are no consequences, either imposed by the government or advertised by Amazon.

Most companies will advertise a trustE banner, or similar (the really good ones will use P3P, to show their customers that they’re trustworthy; Amazon has no need for such things; they’re the 800-pound gorilla, and their customers can like it or lump it.

I could e-mail them and ask, but I don’t want a twenty dollar certificate for her next purchase, subject to terms and conditions; I want them to honor their stated policy. Without clearly stated consequences, I’m looking for a new online retailer.

One Comment

Ian said: - I never get more than 1 piece of unwanted mail from a company before its ‘CHOP’ ,gone.

Granted you’d have to update Amazon with your new email address, and I’m sure you’d eventually get another ‘offer’ from them but your (hmm, whats the word for a single article in a blog..) erm, article prompted me to shout mailshell.

I don’t work for them by the way, I just pay em $35 a year..

Monday, April 28 2003 at 10:07 AM