Privacy policies turning consumers off?

19 January 2012

keyboardPrivacy.  It’s one of those things people don’t like to talk about. However, new research shows that web retailers need to have a serious sit down with their privacy policy if they are going to make those all important sales.

Research group Forrester found that a growing number of consumers were actually reading retailers’ privacy policy and voting with their feet* if they didn’t like what they saw. Who knew anyone actually read those things.

A total of 37,000 respondents were asked a number of questions about their internet shopping habits, and whether a privacy policy or terms of use statement had put them off. Report author  Fatemeh Khatibloo concluded that “a leaky, bloated, or hidden privacy policy and/or terms-of-use statement will cost [an] organisation substantial revenues.”

“A surprising number of consumers ‘just say no’ if a privacy policy doesn't pass their sniff test, and the numbers seem to be rising,” he continued.

It seems that the eagle-eyed shoppers are predominantly the over-55s, presumably because they are the only ones with enough time on their hands to read the darned things. In response to the question “Have you ever not completed an online transaction with a company because of something you read in the company’s terms of use or privacy policy?” more than half of respondents over 55 said they had. And I thought it took my Gran three hours to do her online supermarket shopping because she was 88.

But this is not the first time this demographic group have expressed their nit-pickingness. The same question posed to over 55s back in 2008 saw only 40% of people say they had abandoned a transaction because of privacy concerns, a rise of over 25% .

And it isn’t just the silver surfers who are wiping out- overall, the total number of people who had clicked away from a site due to privacy policy fears has risen from 38% to 44% over the same period. Although the walk-away rate was lower among younger web users, Forrester said online retailers should be aware that the trend suggested that customers were likely to change their attitudes. With the retail sector suffering, surely these businesses need to pull out all the stops to keep customers, not lose them to dodgy policies.

So, given that the average Bitterwallet reader is between 30-45, male and would describe themselves as having “excellent IT skills”**, do you read privacy policies and terms of use? Have you ever decided a website is not worthy of your money owing to such policies or are price and value the key to your business?

*Strictly speaking it is their fingers who will be doing the walking.

** We know all about you. We can see you.

[PC Pro]


  • Marky M.
    "Fatemeh Khatibloo"? An obvious anagram to retain privacy.
  • The B.
    "So, given that the average Bitterwallet reader is between 30-45, male and would describe themselves as having “excellent IT skills" Sam, are you calling me a middle aged geek? Is it the lightsabre collection that gives it away?
  • Mike H.
    I'm a one eyed private eye, who reads private eye, I'm in the public eye, I investigate privacy, sorry, it's private aye?
  • Privacy M.
    [...] by Easy Privacy Policy Plugin The Pacific Box Set for WordPress. Last updated Wed, 10 Nov 2010 20:08Your Privacy Your privacy is important to us. To better protect your privacy we provide this notice ... on our homepage and at every point where personally identifiable information may be requested.  [...]
  • FaceOff
    > is between 30-45, male and would describe themselves as having “excellent IT skills” That is uncanny because that is so me, except of course for the age and maybe the IT skills. Like everyone (except those who use face-book), I always read the privacy policy & terms, and often drop out at checkout as a result. I'm also one of the few without face-book for the same reason. I have not signed up to twitter either, but that is noting to do which the small print, that is because I'm not a twat.
  • Frank P.
    I also do not have a facetube account. But I am a twat.
  • Barry O.
    Holy crap, another article with a bunch of asterisks. Hold, on, who wrote it? Oh yeah, that's right, Sam 'I fucken love the Shift+8' Thewlis. Keep up the good work love, those chinese kids who make those keyboard keys won't have work if you stop overusing them. Do you reckon you could actually write an article without any bloody Asterix's? As you can tell, I hate the Belgian cartoonista.
  • Stu_
    If there are any companies reading this, the one thing that really pisses me off is when I purchase a product and by doing so, I automatically get added to their junk mail. I'm a stickler for looking out for the "Do not contact me again" button, but quite a lot of companies don't offer it. They just add you to their mailing list. Do this, and you lose me as a customer. Every time.

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