The internet can be scary sometimes; right after looking up a cute dress, the dress pops up in an ad on another site, or after shopping for furniture, the user receives an email about discount codes. However, something a little weirder has been happening that involves brands actually calling consumers’ phones.
According to CNBC, Dave Kerpen, a New York Mets fan, was checking around for prices to a game this past September. He added tickets to his cart on the StubHub app, but decided not to buy them just yet. However, almost immediately, he received a phone call from the secondary ticketing company, letting him know that he could buy the tickets with a 5 percent discount if he purchased them immediately over the phone.
“It was surprising because I didn’t even realize they had my phone number,” he told CNBC, noting that “if it startled me, it probably startled most people.”
While there’s a few ways StubHub could have received Kerpen’s number – either from his StubHub profile or by inputting his number into an online form at some point – Kerpen still thinks that the call is a little intrusive. Rather than calling, he said he would rather have the company send out bot-delivered texts, something that could even be cheaper than making a call.
When CNBC reached out the the company, a StubHub spokeswoman said that the ticketing platform has been making these calls for three years to help customers find the best seats to “select events.” Although she mentioned that the company first sends out an email and then follows up with a phone call, Kerpen said he never received an email. The spokeswoman went on to explain that when fans are considering a pricey purchase, “there is a desire for a more personal touch, which can give them greater confidence.”
This isn’t something new – brands have been doing this sort of thing for years. However, it’s just another tactic that allows companies to have control of users’ data. Questions were raised earlier this year when the University of Alabama revealed a loyalty points program, which tracks students’ location to see if they attend a game and how long they stay for. The longer they stay at a game, the more points they’ll receive, however, their privacy is being violated.
Mobile tickets are yet another way that people feel unsafe, since e-tickets pose as vulnerability threat at times. In August, British Airways revealed that check-in links being sent to their passengers via email were unencrypted, meaning that someone on the same Wi-Fi network could easily access the link request for their own use, giving them access to other passengers’ check-in information. The industry has been pushing for mobile-only tickets as the “safe” route, but that’s not always the case.