When you visit the website of furniture and tchotchke seller Dot & Bo, this is what you see. At first glance, the Dot and Bo “splash” screen doesn’t look unusual — many websites that try to sell you something would like to have your Facebook account information and e-mail address, all the better to bother you with. But look carefully: there’s no little “x” in the corner of this window. You literally cannot even browse through the company’s products without surrendering your personal contact details. Try working around the barrier at the Dot & Bo website: visit a second-level page and you’ll get the same insistent demand. Try reading around the edges of the splash page and you’ll find out that even the prices are hidden until you surrender your Facebook account or e-mail address.
“Information collected is used to provide and maintain the Website and is used at Dot & Bo’s discretion. This Information can also be used to contact you to further discuss interest in our company, the services we provide, and to send information regarding Dot & Bo, its partners, its products and other activities such as promotions and events. You may be invited to receive email correspondence by providing an email address. Your email address and any Personal Information will not be distributed or shared with third parties unless it is to transact such business as you have contracted us to do, to comply with legal processes and/or law enforcement requests, or to conduct any business as Dot & Bo, in its sole discretion, deems reasonable.”
You can see the thought bubble: “well, yeah, actually, we will share your e-mail address, and we’ll do it for whatever reason we in our sole discretion decide is a good reason. Sucker.”
I have never encountered another company that requires you to surrender personal information just to look at their products, but I have a sinking feeling that Dot & Bo may be an unfortunate trendsetter. And no, Dot & Bo, just in case you were wondering, you get no SEO boost in this article: no link reward for you today. If you want that benefit you’ll have to give me your CEO’s bank account and routing numbers first.