Some of you may know that I moved over the summer. On my other site (Fat Guy, Skinny Wallet), where I write about my struggle to lose weight and pay off debt, I wrote about how we were able to save money moving, and save money on car insurance. I usually try to keep my business and personal life separate, which is why I didn’t write anything about my move on this site. However, there is one thing that I would like to share!
I Think Cablevision Sold My Data!!!
Now, I am not naive to the fact that companies collect information on their customers and sells this information to various companies and agencies. However, it was really bad in my case.
So…right after I moved, I set up a mailbox for my business at a local UPS Store. This way, I don’t have to have my home address connected to my business. Every company that I deal with on behalf of my business is given the mailbox address, rather than my personal one.
There were only two companies that had both the name of my business and my home address. The bank that I use for my business checking account, and Cablevision. I changed my address with my bank relatively quickly after moving, and things were fine. It wasn’t until I set up Internet and phone service with Cablevision, that I started getting a bunch of junk mail!
Even though I never had this problem before with my bank (they weren’t responsible for any junk mail at my old apartment, from what I can tell), there was still the smallest chance that they were the ones who sold my data this time. The other junk mail that I have received in the past was the result of signing up for a tax preparation mailing list, and also a couple of publications to which I subscribed. That mail is easy to spot because it’s being sent to my old address, and comes with those big, obnoxious, yellow mail forwarding labels!
Maybe I’m Wrong?
Recently, my wife had to call Cablevision about an unrelated matter, and she brought up the fact that they sold our information. Of course they denied it and stated that they never sell customer information.
Could I be wrong about them? Did my bank finally become desperate and decide to start selling customer data? Maybe a few marketing geniuses were able to figure out my home address on their own? I was sure that it was Cablevision, but they just said that it’s against their policy to sell data! For the first time since I was about 2 or 3 years old, I could actually be wrong about something! 😉
Then my mind snapped back into reality! Khaleef, what do you think is more likely? You actually being wrong about something, or someone from a big corporation lying about (or ignorant of) their shady business practices? [I can just imagine the grief my wife is going to give me when she reads this! 😎 ]
The proof came soon after. I received a piece of mail at my home address, but made out to my business. When I opened the envelope, I found an advertisement that had my name, business name, home address, and home phone number printed!
This is the phone number that Cablevision assigned to me when I took on their service. No one knows this number. I don’t even know this number!!! Neither my wife nor I have ever given this number out to anyone. The only way some random company would know it, is if Cablevision sold it to them, or to a huge database!
Why Do I Care?
I am sure that many of you are wondering what the big deal really is? Many companies buy and sell addresses, phone numbers, and other customer data all the time. In fact, when I went to the Financial Blogger Conference, one of the presentations spoke in part about how purchasing email lists can be a great growth strategy!
I have two major problems with what Cablevision did!
What if I was living with friends, and didn’t want to have their information tied to my business in any way? There are many bloggers who stay anonymous because of their professional life. If I was a part of the contingent workforce, owning a business, or even having a blog about finance could disqualify me! Of course, it wasn’t that serious in my case, but it never really is, until something actually happens – which is why many people have to look into professional indemnity insurance early on!
I’ve talked about protecting yourself from identity theft while using Facebook and Twitter, but this is worse, since there isn’t anything you can do about it!
Second, if they are making money by adding my company’s information to other databases, I want my cut! If there is any value in my information, then I should be the one getting paid for it. Let me sign up for the various databases and get paid for doing so.
photo by Danilo Rizzuti
What About You?
- Have you ever discovered that a company was selling your data?
- Do you think they should have a right to do this?
- Am I the only one that thinks we should have a choice in the matter…and who wants a cut if I agree?
- Have you ever purchased customer/client information or a mailing list? If so, how did you market yourself afterwards?