Yesterday I received a “Personal Invitation” to a “Wenatex Event” in Bundaberg. The email went to my name but at my Dad’s address which is quite disturbing because I’ve had no dealings with this company, and how the hell did they get my Dad’s address?
So I called Wenatex and apparently they are a european company that makes mattresses. My personal invitation included a complimentary dinner (read as: marketing seminar) at the Bert Hinkler Motor Inn for myself and a friend, and 2 $20 “free-gift” vouchers which required me to write down my name, home phone, mobile number, email address, date attended, what I had for breakfast and the consultants initials before I could claim them.
I wasn’t really impressed with these people getting my Dad’s address through me so in typical fasion I layed into the poor girl on the other end of the phone and she told me they get their names and addresses from 2 sources:
- The phone book.
- Data Solutions. (a direct marketing company in Sydney)
Now, my name isn’t in the phone book, and if it was it wouldn’t be under my Dad’s address. So I found Data Solutions and gave them a call. Once again, a happy-go-lucky young girl answered the phone and I stated my issue with her company and then demanded to know how they got my Dad’s address.
This is the best bit, she said:
“The Australian Electoral Register.”
My response was: “Hang on, you are telling me the government sells THE definitave list of all people over 18 in this country (compulsory voting here) to direct marketing companies?”
Her response: “Yep.”
My response: (you can probably guess)
So I told her to take my name, my Dad’s name and his address out of her database, and she said that won’t stop other direct marketing companies unless I register for this:
But what does it say?? That’s right folks, it’s not a goverment initiative. Its just something set up by the direct marketing companies to try and STOP a government initiative like they have in the UK and US.
“Oh please, you don’t have to stop us with legislation! We’ll just regulate ourselves…yes, see all better now. Except of course that we can’t really force anyone to abide by our rules.”
So next time you open your letterbox to find its stuffed to the brim with shit from companies you’ve never heard of selling you crap you don’t need or want…. thank the government.
=== UPDATE ===
Rather than sit arounnd being pissed off I decided to call the AEC and have a go at them. They informed me that as of the 21st of July 2004, the AEC database is no longer up for sale.
They used to sell it for $22 per electorate in either paper-based (easily scan-able) or microfiche forms. So, considering there are about 150 electorates, a big company like Data Solutions only had to fork out $3300 to get the home address of every adult Australian.
So I’m glad they stopped selling this data, but it doesn’t stop companies who have the database from 2 years ago from using it now. 🙁