Earning a crust


I bought some fuel for the car and received vouchers for a free pizza.

I am old enough to know that there is no such thing as a “free” pizza. It will be a pizza with strings attached… So I read the small print on the website to find out exactly what I was giving to BP and Pizza Express in exchange for my Classic American Hot and Doughballs starter.

To keep the calculation simple I exercised my right to opt out of direct marketing where possible. I didn’t click the boxes which would allow Pizza Express to send me information “about products and offers” which might interest me. This just left the mandatory box to click accepting BP’s terms and conditions and privacy policy.

The terms and conditions told me that Calzone and Calabrese pizzas were excluded from the offer and I could only use my unique offer code once etc. The privacy policy told me that my personal information [my name and email address] would be used “to provide the information, products and services you request” [the 12 digit unique code for my free pizza]…AND it also said they would use my data to send me “information on additional products and/or services which BP reasonably thinks may be of interest to you”. The use of the word “reasonably” demonstrates that a lawyer was required to craft this sentence.

So the deal is: I exchange my email address for a pizza and starter. At my preferred restaurant the dough balls cost £3.45  and the American Hot costs £9.95 – a total of £13.40. If I assume that BP did a deal with Pizza Express and got the meals at a discount of, say, 75% (because PE will make plenty of margin on my Coca Cola and my dinner companion, as well as some repeat business if all goes well) then my personal data is worth about £3.35 to BP.

£3.35 is probably quite good value for a warm marketing lead… BP know that I buy diesel fuel and sometimes visit their service stations (I feel slightly pleased that I managed to outwit their marketing machine by inadvertently not using my Nectar card when I bought the fuel that earned the voucher – so they know less about me than they might have done). When I redeem the pizza voucher in London they will connect this with the fact that I bought the fuel in Hull and therefore place me in a particular customer segment (“Northern diaspora”?). They also already know that I use a Mac computer and a Chrome browser from when I completed the form, which also places me in a particular customer segment (“Not Microsoft Windows”?) and their cookies will tell them a bit about the websites I came from and go to when I visit their site.

I am looking forward to seeing what products BP reasonably think will interest me, but I used my special “Spam only” email address where I rarely log on, so it may be some time before I report it here.

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