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UK consumers don’t trust location-based services

by Scott Bicheno on 31 May 2011, 12:23

Tags: Telmap, Ovum

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Big Brother blues

Two of the most prominent commercial opportunities presented by the rise of the smartphone both have a common problem when it comes to mainstream adoption - trust.

We've heard a lot about the mobile wallet over the past few weeks, and the likes of Google, Mastercard and NXP are all striving to demonstrate how secure this technology is. But punters are still a long way from putting all their financial eggs in one mobile device basket.

A similar caution applies to location-based services (LBS), according to a new survey by Ovum. While we're quite happy to broadcast our locations on the Internet, we're not happy with the thought of companies being able to track our location in the name of ‘customer service' - i.e. trying to flog us stuff.

61 percent of the consumers Ovum surveyed said they had concerns about the use of LBS in customer service. Furthermore only 20 percent were willing to share their location with companies in the name of LBS, and even fewer saw social media as a viable channel for customer service.

"Although many UK consumers use location-based services such as Foursquare in their daily personal lives, when brands use LBS it is seen in a very different light by consumers," said Ovum analyst Ian Jacobs.

"Consumers to date have very little experience with LBS in the context of customer service. So, it is not bad experiences, but rather pervasive concerns about privacy driving the mindsets of UK consumers who feel their location data may be misused by businesses. To create a sense of trust, businesses must become much more transparent on how the data will be put to use, and show customers some demonstrable value when using LBS for customer care."

Meanwhile leading white-label LBS provider Telmap has released its latest metrics report. It revealed that the iPhone remains the biggest platform for Telmap services, but Android is expected to take that crown soon, with the Samsung Galaxy S the second most used device.

Point-of-interest searches look like the most rapidly growing category for Telmap, as people increasingly use LBS to augment their smartphone satnav experience.

 

 

 



HEXUS Forums :: 15 Comments

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Certainly incidents such as the Sony breaches has left me reticent about joining such schemes.

Companies tracking your every move triggers thoughts of Big Brother in my mind…. The only way that I'd allow this is if you are prompted prior to engaging the service each time, so you can PULL the data from them, rather than let them track and push stuff to you…
Tattysnuc
Certainly incidents such as the Sony breaches has left me reticent about joining such schemes.

Companies tracking your every move triggers thoughts of Big Brother in my mind…. The only way that I'd allow this is if you are prompted prior to engaging the service each time, so you can PULL the data from them, rather than let them track and push stuff to you…
Agree with the first para, not so sure about the second - if you want to use LBS then having to authorise each service every time you use it might be too clumsy, so folks'd end up just doing an accept-all.

That said, I'd not argue with the need to have more control over what privileges are granted. Being able to (de)select individual providers - with a default of “deny” - would be the minimum to my mind. E.g. I may want to share with Google, but not Twitter.

Getting back to the article, the top 10 list was interesting … “hospitals” at #1, presumably that was A&E that folks were looking for, (maternity is the only other service I can think you'd need so quickly that you couldn't just look it up). I actually would have guessed resturants as the top search, but then again given that #2 was “gas stations” I'm assuming that this is a US-based survey.
I suspect I'm at the militant end of concern over commercial abuse of privacy.

Ovum analyst Ian Jacobs
Consumers to date have very little experience with LBS in the context of customer service. So, it is not bad experiences, but rather pervasive concerns about privacy driving the mindsets of UK consumers who feel their location data may be misused by businesses. To create a sense of trust, businesses must become much more transparent on how the data will be put to use, and show customers some demonstrable value when using LBS for customer care.

The problem, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that almost all companies are guilty of using the data they already have for commercial exploitation, without express permission from consumers. They have demonstrated, in many cases, time and again, that they will do whatever they can get away with, even if they get away with it by hiding the fact that they're doing it in the first place. And there are companies that explicitly ignore instructions to not use certain methods., For instance, I recently got a phone call from the AA with an “offer”, and I got it by telephone. The AA are one of the few companies I deal with that actually have that number, and they have been told, several times, that it is for admin purposes only and that I do not, under any circumstances, want telesales calls. It took four repeats of the question about whether it was a sales call before the operator actually admitted it “was, sort of”. There's no sort of about it. Either he's ringing with an administration issue, or he's trying to get me to sign up for something new. It was the latter.

As it happens, I knew about what he tried to offer me already and it wasn't a bad option and I was, and I stress was thinking about it anyway. I never got as far as letting him tell me what the deal was. It may have included a discount. It may have saved me money. The thing is …. I don't care. I don't want telesales calls at home, about anything, from anybody, ever. Period.

My AA card shows a join date of (and continuous membership since) 1964. And they know my wishes about sales calls at home. And yet still they do it. And this idiot on the phone persisted in trying to sell me stuff despite that, until I told him that I would continue with the call but if it turned out he wanted me to sign up for some extra service, then that 47 year membership would not become 48 years, because I would not renew, ever again.

Each to his/her own, of course, but I am not interested in location-based services if there is anychance that companies are tracking my location, and frankly, I simply do not believe that many of them can be trusted to not do it when told not to. For that same reason, I don't use store reward cards, and by refusing to do so, I know I lose out on the “discounts” you get for “loyalty”. Is it hell “loyalty”, it's a bribe to get commercially useful data use in data mining of data warehouses to profile us and sell us stuff. I also pay by cash virtually all the time, and I'm very cynical about why companies want to see tech like e-wallets …. not only does it no doubt cut their cash-handing problems and costs, but it adds trackability.

I don't particularly want adverts at all, even on TV. There, though, they are unavoidable …. but deletable. ;)

I certainly don't want to be pestered either at home or on my mobile by advertisers, and that includes texts. I do not ever want to be pestered on my mobile by “location-based” adverts, and I don't believe that if commercial entities have a way of knowing where I am that they will pay any more respect to my explicit wish to be left the hell alone that the idiot on the phone from the AA did.

In short, they cannot be trusted. My experience tells me that too many companies, too many times, have proven this by their actions and as a direct result, I don't trust any of them.

The only way to avoid, as far as is possible, getting pestered on the phone is to stop companies getting your phone number in the first place, and the same applies to location data.

As I said, I'm on the militant end of not trusting major companies. I'll happily forego offers, discounts and deals, all in the name of being left the hell alone by these pests. I don't expect that to be a common viewpoint, at least when it comes to giving up “free” money, but it's why I don't want to even risk companies tracking my location. It's none of their damn business where I go, or went in the past, or where I am at any given point in time. And the best way to not be location-tracked is not to have anything that can both identify my location, and report it back. Hence, a dumb cellphone and a SatNav with no cellular feature. And long may it stay that way.
crossy
….

That said, I'd not argue with the need to have more control over what privileges are granted. Being able to (de)select individual providers - with a default of “deny” - would be the minimum to my mind. E.g. I may want to share with Google, but not Twitter.
….
Do we (and I mean consumers, as a group) trust companies to honour opt-outs. It's a nightmare getting some companies to show consumers enough respect to have opt-in schemes as the standard, so you don't get what you don't want just because you didn't, or forgot, to opt out. I have stopped recommending Scan to clients because of precisely that issue with Scansure.

If companies opt us in without explicit permission, do we trust them to honour opt-outs? If stores aggressively promote reward cards as “loyalty” cards when they're really after marketing data, so we trust them to be open and respect our wishes on location data? I sure don't.
Saracen
Do we (and I mean consumers, as a group) trust companies to honour opt-outs. It's a nightmare getting some companies to show consumers enough respect to have opt-in schemes as the standard, so you don't get what you don't want just because you didn't, or forgot, to opt out. I have stopped recommending Scan to clients because of precisely that issue with Scansure.
Totally agree - companies that have opt out rather than opt-ins are a heck of a lot less worthy in my opinion. That said, there's also a duty of care on the part of the customer to READ the information being presented - referring to the opt-out part of ScanSure (bad show Scan!).
My eye opener was when I went for a job (a long time ago now) with a company that did the DP for a major loyalty card. During that I was (confidently) told that loyalty cards are very popular with the companies because they make (a lot of?) profit on them - otherwise why are they so many of them?
Saracen
If companies opt us in without explicit permission, do we trust them to honour opt-outs? If stores aggressively promote reward cards as “loyalty” cards when they're really after marketing data, so we trust them to be open and respect our wishes on location data? I sure don't.
No, I wouldn't trust them. And - to echo your earlier tome - I don't think that you're being particularly militant. Remember that (in most cases) you have to volunteer information, and then “submit” more by visiting the websites concerned. On the other hand, location-based information is (according to what I've read) collected continuously and stealthily (usually no explicit “submit this information”), so unless you're really savvy there's no log saying that “Company X knows you went to A, then B, then C”.

On another aspect, I would politely suggest that US consumers are more content with this than us Brits simply because they (mainly) respect big conglomerates, whereas Brits have a long history of distrusting authority (whether it's Parliament, Google or William the Conqueror). I would hazard a guess that the French and Italians are also anti-LBS, whereas the Germans would be “pro”. But maybe I'm being horribly xenophobic and using national stereotypes, in which case I'm rightly apologetic.

BTW, you've been with the AA for 47 years! You must have your members badge (why did they stop doing them?) on your zimmer! :p Although, I was “feeling my age” today and your comments make me feel like a relative youngster - thanks for the ego boost! :)