Online contact forms are not always what they seem

Posted By on December 22, 2016

Speed kills … and being rushed can make people do stupid things, that would be me in this case. I was in a hurry to get a HVAC replacement estimate after scavengering parts off of one furnace to keep the other running — both need to be replaced.

ConsumerReportFurnaceACWhile researching gas furnaces and air conditioner replacements, I checked with Consumer Reports for a list of the most reliable brands. Since American Standard and Trane were at the top of their list (along with our current 21 year old Bryant equipment), I started the HVAC dealer search in our area by brand. Finding a couple companies with recognizable names, I called a couple and left a message and for the other I filled out the online form without thinking. “Hm, this is a professional looking site for a small contractor … and look,  they do other things too?” That last statement should have been enough for me to resist offering up my email, address and cellphone number!

Within minutes, my phone started to receive multi-part automated text messages as well as phone calls from the marketing arms (hired guns) of different companies … some with area codes all over the country. Emails too with the “do not respond to this email address directly” request, but instructions to click the link and fill out yet another online form. Am I the only one who doesn’t plan on using ANY company marketing in this way?

Eventually I was able to connect with the company who hosts the original offending site and they said they could removed “my request” from their database (so they say), but that the contact information had already been sent to they subscribing contractors. To make matters worse, the calls are coming in offering services other than what I was even looking for.

Lesson (again): Don’t give out private information unless you are 100% sure it is going only to the person you intend to received it … and even then, be sure they do not resell or give that information out to others. (BTW, normally I’ll use a Google Voice phone number and return the call only if I wanted too … but as I said, I was in a hurry.)


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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