Williams-Sonoma crossed the line from presenting their wares to high pressure sales last week. I’ve been getting their emails since one purchase from the site two years ago, and occasionally, if I’m bored, I’ll go to the site and browse.
Since I’m still looking for Christmas gifts for a few people, browsing is a great way to get ideas and I love it that Amazon and other online sites are so convenient for this.
After my last visit to the Williams Sonoma site, I got an email thanking me for “expressing interest” in a particular item. This struck me exactly the same way a pushy and overbearing salesperson would in person. Why, I’m not sure. It was a visceral reaction.
A visceral reaction that prompted me to opt out of further emails. Of course I know my visit was tracked — I’m not that naive. I don’t take all that many steps to hide who I am on the web, but this struck me as smarmy and intrusive.
I have an account at Amazon and it tracks what I look at and what I buy. It offers “you may interested” ideas which are often hilarious as only an artificially intelligent agent can be. I bought the Prime shipping option. I shop there a lot and I should be known and welcomed. I also have an associate account there, though I haven’t set it up on the sidebar of this blog yet. (I will eventually, mostly because I like recommending books.)
This has made me question why I am not bothered by similar tracking of my actions from Amazon. The best I can come up with is that it while Amazon personalizes, it doesn’t make it personal. It doesn’t feel intrusive, where Williams Sonoma’s action certainly did.
Amazon, no doubt, has much more information about me than Williams Sonoma ever had.
Another company using intrusive and high pressure tactics I’ve had to tell not to contact me again is Omaha Steaks. While it was two purchases and I was quite happy with the way they handled my special shipping requests — the ongoing relationship has not been a happy one.
It’s likely I would have ordered from them again sometime in the future if they hadn’t bugged me with monthly phone calls from representatives trained not to take no for an answer. The fact they are calling my cell phone and the attempts to lengthen the call got way too annoying.
No doubt these high pressure and smarmy tactics work on a number of people, but not on me. They piss me off.