Why doesw ordering something to be shipped require a phone number?

I’ve ordered plenty of things online to be shipped to my address, from a variety of sites, and every single one of them requires you to put in a telephone number. What’s the point in that? It’s not going to be teleported to my phone and I’ve never been contacted by phone about an order. You’d think all they would need is my name, address, and card information, and possibly an E-mail to send the confirmation.

Just in case. It’s a backup if the address is faulty or the item can’t be delivered.

My conclusion would be that they’re selling them to telemarketers. After all, if you have ever bought something from them, you’re in a business relationship with them and all their [del]sisters and their cousins[/del] business partners, meaning the ‘do not call’ list no longer applies for 18 months after your last purchase, delivery, or payment.

That would make sense if a phone number was optional, or one of a few alternatives. But forms I’ve seen absolutely require a phone number and won’t process an order without one. Seems to me that’s not the only way that they could communicate with you. I hate getting calls (I can’t get them at work and don’t have voicemail) and I’d rather read an E-mail at my leisure than have to answer a call at the right time.

One big reason is in case your credit card gets rejected. This happened to me. I re-ordered something, and they used my old credit card number that was on file. I had closed that account. They called me to get a current credit card number, and my order wasn’t delayed.

Could be an additional check against fraud, if a credit card is involved. The more info they can gather, but better.

Hmpf. I rarely, if ever, give my correct phone number.

It almost bit me in the butt several years ago, though. When I used to write checks, I had my “phone number” printed on the checks. I lost my wallet and the person that found it tried to call me at the bogus number. Fortunately, when they didn’t get an answer, the drove to my address to return my wallet.

The short answer, as someone who has run companies that do direct to customer shipping, is that I want a way to speak to the customer directly and I don’t care if they don`t like talking on the phone.

Over years and tens of thousands of orders I’m aware of only a small handful of customers who were bothered by this enough to call or e-mail us about it. More people were probably able to figure out that entering a fake phone number is acceptable too but as long as everything goes smoothly we’d never notice.

Think of it this way: If we have to call you about your order for some reason, we’re already burning through our profit margin. On an ideal order we never need to pay an actual human being to communicate with you. If we have to waste time finding different means to communicate with you on top of that, it wastes even more of our time and margin.

To Terra1041’s point - at my company, if we found a problem with your order we’d both e-mail and call you immediately to try and get it resolved asap. We don’t want to e-mail you and hope you answer us in a few days.

And again, perhaps 1 in 10,000 customers has a problem with it. I have a hard time believing more than 1 in 10,000 potential customers declines to order over it, particularly since they’re likely to realize there’s no way to catch them entering a fake number.

When I have shipped anything with FedEx, they require the recipient’s phone number, so maybe the carrier requires it. But I don’t know if that’s the answer, given Fuzzy Dunlop’s experience.

I think that’s just passing the buck, since the carrier likely wants it for the same reason I do. I’m not aware of any legal requirement imposed on FedEx to have a phone number for domestic shipments, and even if they are required, they’d still want to for the same reason I do - to easily contact the recipient.

UPS also requires this for shipments, for the same reason Fuzzy Dunlop gives - to contact the recipient in case of problems.

It seems that at least some merchants will check the phone number with the CC company database, because I’ve had orders declined when I gave out a fake phone number.

My problem is that I used to answer the phone when I was asleep, and I’d be able to talk coherently. And after I hung up and went back to sleep, I’d promptly forget the conversation. For instance, one time my MIL called me and wanted me to come pick her up from the mall. I agreed that I’d be there in a quarter of an hour or so, hung up, and went back to sleep. The doctor’s office scheduled a couple of specialized tests for me, and called me. The thing is, I used to work nights and HAD to sleep during the day. And I would think, as I answered the phone, that I’d certainly remember whatever it was THIS time. I solved the problem by removing the phone from the bedroom.

I don’t know how common my problem is. I do know that some websites will refuse my order when I put in my fake number. Sometimes I’ll put in my real number, but more often I’ll decide that I really didn’t need whatever it was anyway, and cancel the order. No, I generally won’t call or write the merchant, I’ll just try to find another way to get the merchandise.

Also, I really really hate telemarketing calls, which is another reason I’m reluctant to give out my number.

Don’t you want them to call and ask you where they should leave the package since your house blew up from a natural gas leak and the front porch isn’t there anymore? or would you rather they returned it and you were left wondering?

We ship UPS almost everyday, and a phone number is required. Sometimes, if the person sending doesn’t know the recipient’s phone number offhand, they will use their own. I’ve never had ANYONE get upset about this requirement because of their personal avoidance of talking on the phone. If you have this problem, you have to have, by now, accepted the fact that your hang-up about talking on the phone has robbed you of the pleasure of an unexpected call from an old, dear friend or a notification from the pharmacy that there is a problem with your prescription, so don’t drive up here to get it today, we’ll have it in tomorrow. Phones are wonderful inventions.

If my house blew up, then they can’t call me anyways. I’m definitely not giving out my cell number since incoming calls and texts are not free.

And, honestly, if my house blew up, I have more things to be concerned with than this crap. And you can, you know, use the email address I gave you. If it hurts you to wait on a reply from that, then you deserve to go out of business anyways.

In case the delivery person cannot find the address location so that they have a number to call and get instructions. Sometimes Occam’s Razor is correct, even if uninteresting.

I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s passing the buck. I did some consulting several years ago for a small business that was setting up their first ecommerce site. The owner specifically did not want to ask for phone numbers, because he thought some people would feel uncomfortable supplying it, and that might discourage them from ordering. But we ended up having to ask for the phone number because FedEx made us give it to them (I don’t recall if UPS did as well, but I know that it was the FedEx person who was very insistent with us that they wouldn’t make an exception).

This is a case where the sole reason the phone number is requested is the carrier required it.

In any case, I order a ton of things online, always give them a real phone number, and have never had anything bad come of it. There have been a couple of times that I’ve been contacted with issues I did want to know about (though I would say I’d have preferred they email me). These days I usually give them a Google Voice number. That allows them to leave me a message if they need to contact me, but it doesn’t actually make any of my real phones ring. Best of both worlds.

When I owned an internet business selling automotive accessories I would not ship either unless I had a phone number. Why? Mainly in case of a problem, usually with shipping. Fed Ex can’t find your address? They need to know now, not in 3 days when you get around to answering your email. The part you ordered is on backorder and I can have it shipped next week. I need you to know that now, not in 4 days when you finally check your email and then get mad because you needed it tomorrow. Email is great and preferable, but most people don’t check their emails often enough.

Do you use an American Express card? They have an additional verification system that can check the phone number. Other CCs use AVS, which will catch a fake address but doesn’t check the phone number.

As the operator of an e-commerce website, I do require phone numbers. I’ll give you an example of why: a customer recently placed an order with a fake telephone number, and one of the five items on it was no longer available. I emailed him five times asking if he wanted to change to a different edition of that book, cancel that book and ship the other four, or cancel the whole order. After a month, I finally gave up and canceled the order.

I’ve had the same kind of thing happen when a credit card was declined (now they get checked before I receive the order, so that doesn’t happen anymore), when UPS rejected the address, and so on.

People in general are much more likely to answer the phone than they are to respond promptly to an email.

I’m much less likely to answer the phone than respond by email, so what works for some won’t work for all. Seriously, I’ll check my email several times a day…but I always have my cell phone ringer turned off unless I’m expecting a call, and I’ve gotten to the point where I almost never answer the landline either, because it’s usually Rachel from Card Services. I’ve been answering the phone in the past couple of weeks because of family problems, but as a general rule, I’m not gonna pick up the phone even if I hear it.