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The power of brands

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday February 3, 2010 )

I have a policy – to never participate in unsolicited telephone surveys. Usually all they have to do is say “survey” and I politely say “no thanks” and hang up before they can respond.

I broke this rule recently without even realizing it; purely because of the company involved. Or was it that company?

The phone call was from Google. That’s all it took. Some guy saying, “Hi, I’m X calling on behalf of Google and we’re just running a survey..”. My defenses were totally down and I happily answered every question he had over the ten minutes or so I chatted with him. I spent more time talking to him than anyone else in recent memory.

After all, if it’s Google on the other end, or someone authorized by Google, it’s got to be ok right? They are the company with the slogan “don’t be evil”. I trust Google with my searches, with some of my mail, they even pay me to run ads and the company has somewhat formed the basis of my chosen career. It’s a good gig I have going with being a Google devotee.

But what if it wasn’t Google after all? Maybe I had fallen victim to social engineering by a competitor doing some reconnaissance or some skanky fraudster building up a profile?

Considering how many emails I get from “paypal” and generals in the Nigerian army who want to give me money, I should really know better than to accept someone is who they say they are just because they say so.

While I didn’t hand over my credit card details or anything particularly sensitive to the “Google” guy, I certainly told him things about my business I don’t make common knowledge.

After the call and the realization of what happened sunk in, it made me aware what the word “Google” actually means to me. Heck, it was on par with my Dad or a good buddy calling. If the guy had said “Now, Google would like you to stand up and place your right hand on top of your head”, I probably would have done it.

I’ve learned my lesson and now just keep reassuring myself it was in fact an authorized Googler calling me :).

Never underestimate the power of brands.

I think I really need to get out more. Of course, I’ll email Google first and ask them if it’s ok for me to do so.


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