No, you do not need my phone number.

If I’ve bought something from your website, you already have me. You don’t need my information to send me more stuff later on. That’s not what I’m buying. I’m buying this book, and that’s it.

Last week I typed into a captcha field ten times, and I never got it right. Eventually, I gave up. Did that really captcha benefit you?

It’s very simple. Every field you ask for is another reason for me to say no, or to type in false info that will ruin the integrity of your database.

Or you can get a small chance to impress me by doing something right, or cute, or helpful.

Or you can get it wrong by saying you want to call me.

Interaction between a company and its customers is touchy. They want to be reached only certain times, and only certain ways.

If you don’t know this, you are probably doing it wrong.






13 responses to “No, you do not need my phone number.”

  1. John McLachlan Avatar

    I’ve always thought captcha should have been called gotcha because I always feel less human after trying to use it.

  2. Jeff Sass Avatar

    Friction. It’s all about friction…

  3. Sherman Rockwell Avatar
    Sherman Rockwell

    Well said! I give out a little authentic information as possible. I’m just looking to make a purchase, not a date.

  4. Marc poulin Avatar

    Short and to the point. Great article. I did abandon a purchase because I could not get the captcha right.

  5. Judy Helfand Avatar

    Agreed! What did you say your number was again?

  6. Michael Bigger Avatar


    How do you reconcile this view with Chris Brogan view that the mailing list is crucial? How do you go about this?

  7. Colleen Clifford Avatar

    Amen, Julien. Amen. 🙂

    And if I may be so bold as to answer Michael’s question — the mailing list can be an important part of your business model. The trick (as I’m sure Chris would agree) is to get people to *want* to be on that list. If you give them lots of good stuff that is useful and inspiring, there are many who will want to know when the next batch is ready. They’ll sign up voluntarily if you give them a place to do it. They may even cough up a few bucks for your offerings.

    I believe what Julien is referring to are the entities who demand all of your contact information up front before they’ll even give you a taste of what they have to offer. It’s like forwarding your life story before going on a blind date — why would you hand over that much information (and power to annoy you) if you don’t even know if you haven’t even really met them yet?

  8. Michael Bigger Avatar

    Thanks Colleen. I like the “voluntarily” angle.

  9. Karen E. Lund Avatar

    It happens in real world stores all the time… at least to me.

    At the cash register in a bookstore: “May I have your e-mail address?”

    Me: “No.”

    Cashier (who I realize is new on the job) to senior person standing behind her: “Can she DO that??”

    In clothing store: “What is your telephone number?”

    Me: “I don’t give it out. Why do you want to know?”

    Cashier: “So we can put you on our mailing list.”

    Me: “I don’t want to be on your mailing list. And why do you need my telephone number instead of my address for that?”

    1. Julien Avatar

      @Karen– Exactly. Know where the line is and when you’re crossing it, know what I mean?

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    When someone asks for my ZIP code I tell them 10101, a valid one, but not really mine.

  11. Stuart Avatar

    What gets me is the number of sites that want your Date of Birth. This is a very insidious item, that is used (ineffectively mostly) to identify you. Given a date of birth and a name it usually possible to uniquely identify and individual. Most police and medical databases use this as a primary search index.

    Mostly they claim it is for performing password resets. I just give them a date in the same year, and record this in the laspass notes.

  12. Nathan Avatar

    I actually got into an argument with a Best Buy clerk who insisted I give them my phone number to complete my purchase.

    He finally huffed out “Has BestBuy ever called you after a purchase?”
    To which I quickly responded “Nope. But then, I’ve never given them my phone number!”

    Marketing people think it increases engagement, which it might for about 4% of the population. Everyone else gets annoyed and feels intruded upon.

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