We all receive “junk mail” on a routine basis, often giving it a cursory review at best. Some might pay closer attention to certain credit card miles/points offers for signing up or even bonus spending promos to get the customer to move a card to the “front of the wallet” and hope the balance grows.
However, the offer from OfficeMax delivered to Mike Seay of suburban Chicago certainly got his attention.
He told various news outlets that he received the mailer and $10 coupon on Thursday, January 16, 2014, addressed to “Mike Seay, Daughter Killed In Car Crash, Or Current Business” (see inset).
“I’m not a big OfficeMax customer. And I wouldn’t have gone there and said anything to anybody there about it [the car crash]. That’s not their business,” Seay told the Los Angeles Times.
“Why do they have that?” Seay said of the information about his daughter’s death. “What do they need that for? How she died, when she died? It’s not really personal, but looking at them, it is. That’s not something they would ever need.“
He and his wife lost their 17-year-old daughter last April in an automobile accident in which two teens died.
The real danger is the gradual erosion of individual liberties through automation, integration,
and interconnection of many small, separate record-keeping systems,
each of which alone may seem innocuous, even benevolent, and wholly justifiable.
-Anonymous, U. S. Privacy Study Commission, 1977.
At a time when data collection techniques and content seem to be at the forefront of our commentaries on privacy, this occurrence gives the public and the lawmakers alike an emotional and very real example of how a targeted marketing (through data collection) can fail. Seriously fail!