The Agents-See

"May we contact you about updates to our web site?" I clicked the NO box.

"May we share your address with select companies for similar products?"

NO.

"May we add you to our newsletter e-mailing list?"

NO.

"Do you agree to our terms of service?"

YES.

"You did not enter a valid email address. Remember: Your login info will be sent to your email address."

This real estate web site accepted 555-1212 as a phone number -why not [email protected] as an email address? $#!^%. I clenched my teeth and pounded out each letter of my spam-laden, rarely-used Yahoo-address -using one finger, really hard.

"Thank you."

I retrieved my login info from Yahoo! and went back to the web site. Admittance at last!

My wife and I were curious about our real estate options and heard that this web site was excellent. After we typed in our desired city, square footage, and amenities, the web page went blank. A photo of an agent wearing a fake smile appeared above the question, "Hi, I'm Jose. Can we schedule a meeting to discuss your new home?"

I clicked NO as hard as I could and his photo didn't leave -it just slid to the left. Listings peppered the screen beside him. We didn't like any of the first ten homes. I clicked NEXT and Jose splashed onto the center of the screen again and moved left, always watching, beside listings 11-20.

On the third page, Jose's smile creeped me out. His eyes had narrowed and his smile was a tad broader. My wife couldn't see it, but I wagged my finger at the screen, saying, "I don't like this guy."

On the fourth set of listings Jose winked -I think. And I swear he took longer to slide left, but my wife still didn't share my paranoia. "What a pretty kitchen!" she said, pointing to a photo next to Jose's sneer.

After tolerating Jose's constant gaze and requests to meet over fifty times, we logged off. Thank God, Jose couldn't really see us. I shoved the laptop under my bed, half expecting Jose's photo under my pillow later.

The next day I checked my Yahoo mail. There was a message from Jose. His ubiquitous photo was in it. He said, "I notice you've been looking at homes in the city of ___ with square footage of ____ and include ___ and ___ and... Can we meet?"

When you sign up for access to a members-only web site, know that your clicks and preferences on the inside are tracked and studied. Usually the data is innocuous, of course, but I still suggest you use an email alias or spare address so you can end a rabid sales pursuit.

Some web sites have become as aggressive as pushy salespeople. Too bad, Jose may be a great agent. However, his company succeeded in making him seem creepy and pushy with a mere still photo and automated questions printed under that grin. My wife didn't mind so much. But do I wanna work with Jose? No way.

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