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Shell Collects Consumer Info With Calling Card Promotion


07/11/2007

Shell, in a seemingly innocent effort to give away a free phone card valued at $2 to students away from home during the Chinese New Year, has, according to Tian, distributed promotional pieces around the Arizona State University campus. In order to redeem the offer, students must fill out a web form including email address, name, address and some other optional demographic information. Certainly, this information is needed to send the actual card, however, the promotions Terms and Conditions state the cards are only available first come first serve causing one to wonder why Shell needs to collect the information from any person who signs up after the cards run out. Surely, Shell knows exactly how many cards it has to give out and could very easily terminate the promotion once all cards have been claimed rather than continue to collect information up to an arbitrary end date thereby building itself a nice fat database of names for future use.

Of course, the sign up form contains check boxes to control whether or not the person wants Shell to contact them in the future but even if these boxes are left unchecked one has to wonder where that persons contact information ends up. Oops...it just mistakenly ended up in Shells direct marketing department.

Its inconceivable to imagine Shell would not know how many cards it has to give out in the first place and that they would not be able to track this down to the exact, last applicant, at which time, they could close the promotion thus ending the needless collection of names it knows it cant send the card to. Are we over analyzing this or are companies just coming up with ever sneakier means to collect our contact info?

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