Seth Godin has been irritated by some B2B companies which force him to contact them in the format they want, just so he can ask them to sell him something. Read Promiscuous dispersal of your email address for the full story.
He’s right, you know. “Contact Us” forms with limitations on what can be entered, and requests for extraneous information, suggest that the marketing department hasn’t thought about the process well enough, and hasn’t insisted that the web designers find ways around the limitations of IT systems.
If I need to explain something in more than a few words, and someone gives me a form on a web page to do it rather than their email address, I immediately look for alternatives (including alternative suppliers!). Goodbye. Why? Because I’ve had too many experiences of entering several paragraphs of considered prose into a web form, hitting “submit”, and being given an error message in return, with no way of getting back to what I wrote. Stop telling website visitors that they’re idiots who can’t be trusted to send you a conventional email, if that’s what they want to do. Sure, they might be idiots, but they still might be customers too.