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Archive for the ‘Legal Issues’ Category

I am a customer with Smile Bank since about 4 years. I have referred friends there who have also opened accounts. Generally I had the impression Smile is a good bank. Something changed…….

6 months ago I wanted to take out a loan. I had the money but it was invested and I chose a loan instead of selling my equity or releasing money from my ISA’s. I did an online calculation on Smiles website and found out that I needed to pay 9 %. I quickly filled out the online application and 2 minutes later received an e-mail. Congratulations your loan is approved. My guess is that the loan was pre aproved which means that there was a note in the system with the amount of money I am good for.

I waited a few days and received all the documentation and the application form. To my surprise the APR was not the promised 9 % but it was 18 % (!) I called immediately and was told that they are very sorry but the 9 % does not apply for me. I had planned to spend the money in the next few days and because smile told me the APR was 9 % I arranged everything and lost 4 valuable business days. Reluctantly I signed the forms after being told I can settle early and do not have to pay any punishment fee.

Now 6 months later I want to pay off the loan and to my surprise they are charging me 12 months of interest (for a period of only 6 month loan). However I do receive a discount of 1 months interest if I settle early(!?!)

It is very sad for me to see that Smile Bank is tricking its customers as they call them selves ethical Bank and are owned by their members. Shame on you Coop and Smile Bank!!!

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*ARGH*

I use Google!

I use Gmail!

Google knows who I am!

Google saves what I search!

I have told Google (clicked the appropriate buttons) not to save my searches!

Every few weeks I have to check again just to see that Google saves all the past searches for me. GOOGLE – I do not want you to connect my searches to my Google / Account / Name / Personal Data…..

Current mood? *DISgoogled*

Trust me – I have unsubscribed from this service many many times – now again

Google Web History sucks

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After Rapleaf’s apology I do not believe all is fine. In fact I am certain that they are breaking European law. See here for the Data Protection Act.

Some more frustrated comments about Rapleaf and why this service is so annoying:

WTF?!! Watch out for Rapleaf!!!

What appears to have happened with RapLeaf

http://mashable.com/2007/09/04/rapleaf-privacy/#comment-944997

What annoys me personally is that my details can still be found on upscoop (upscoop and rapleaf are one and the same company) after I have received confirmation that all my data has been removed from their servers:

Thanks for the email and we greatly apologize for any inconvenience. As
requested, we’ve gone ahead and removed the profiles for the email
addresses you provided below.
If we can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to email us.
Best,

Yes they have been removed from Rapleaf but not from Upscoop (a service from Rapleaf). And also their Privacy Policy states the following:

Rapleaf may disclose full user data in Rapleaf’s database to third parties in the following limited circumstances:

-Upon receipt of a properly authorized and authenticated governmental request for information
-In response to a subpoena or a court order
-To comply with relevant laws
-In response to an investigation of fraud regarding a specific user, customer, or client
-If Rapleaf is sold or acquired
-In an effort to safeguard the person or property of a Rapleaf employee or a third party or client

I do not feel comfortable with a service like this and whilst I believe it is illegal I certainly know that it is unethical!

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After reading about Rapleaf on ZDNET I thought to give them a try and see if they find any information about me.

The answer is really really scary. Rapleaf knew of Social Networking sites I was not aware I had joined. Rapleaf also linked my true identity with my false one… What does this mean? Well I have a few e-mail addresses I use to try out new things but by using them too often I might once even use one of those addresses with my real name. Here is one example from one of my e-mail addresses:

Rapleaf knew that I was I member at Plaxo (had forgotten this one). LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook, Hi5 (don’t use this one), Myspace (different name, different age as Myspace asks you to sign up to see certain profiles..), Ringo (also did not know I was a member there – just requested my password so I could close my account).

It frightens me to see that companies have all this access and bundle the information and also sell it on to other companies. The first thing I did was to start the annoyingly long and complicated opt out process

 

Opt-Out

An individual may request information taken down for a given email address by emailing support@rapleaf.com.

Additional, individuals can elect to have their information opted-out from Rapleaf’s database by following these steps:

1. Email opt-out@rapleaf.com from the email address requesting to opt-out. Rapleaf will then email back an opt-out form to confirm the email address.

2. Print out this customized opt-out form, fill it out, and mail it to the following postal address:

Rapleaf
Attn: Opt-Out Request
657 Mission Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94105

Rapleaf will then quickly follow up with a confirmation email. All relevant information pertaining to this opted-out email address will also be removed.

What is your take on this? Is it legal for them to do this?

Update: Also see this blog entry: Some more Rapleaf concern

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We are fed up of loads of junk mail in our house when we come home from work so amongst other things we have fitted a clear sign on our letterbox:

No to Junk Mail, NO Newspaper, No Advertisement

You would think this is very clear wouldn’t you? Well the Cambridge Liberal Democrats and the Cambridge Labour Party employ very enthusiastic “junk mail throwers” who either cannot read or do not care about privacy and the clear statement made regarding Junk Mail.

The one thing that made the story almost funny was Labour’s advert Action on Climate change. This is a open message to Labour and Mr. Daniel Zeichner:

“A full color 4 page brochure which is sent to every household in the county does not only cost a lot of money but it also annoys people and it effects our environment. If you are serious about tackling climate change then lead by example and stop sending unwanted leaflets – THANKS.”

See here the leaflet the Cambridge Labour party sent:

Labour Cambridge campaing against climate change 

So for this election it is clear I will neither be voting for the Liberal Democrats nor for the Labour party. I will be reporting on other parties not respecting our privacy.

 

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Please read the correspondence regarding this company and their bank robbery:

 

Dear Sir or Madame,
please refund the GBP 23.88 taken from my credit card. I have not authorized this and have NOT agreed to auto renewal. I never agree to AUTO RENEWAL.
Thank you very much for your help. I have seen that you include: “Due to the costs involved in processing transactions, and the great low price of the membership fee we are unable to offer refunds of membership upgrades. Please refer to the
Terms & Conditions for further advice on the acceptable use of WAYN.”
Although this cannot be for customers who have never agreed to automated renewal. If unsuccessful of course I will do a cash back claim on my Credit Card. Thanks a lot for your help and all the best for your future business

 

The response from WAYN.

The auto renewal function on your WAYN.com account was turned on, as per the renewal terms that you agreed when upgrading your membership.
We have not received any correspondence from you prior to your renewal, requesting your full membership account to be downgraded and as a result, will not be able to provide you with a refund on this occasion. If, however, you did email us prior to your renewal date, please forward to us proof of this correspondence and we will be happy to provide you with a full refund on your renewal payment.
Since you upgraded and agreed to the terms and conditions, privacy policy and renewal terms that form part of the agreement when signing up, you have been able to take advantage of full membership access. Your opt-in to these terms is required as part of the upgrade process and is clearly stated on the page where you submit your credit card details and confirm payment. This ensures that you are able to enjoy uninterrupted full membership service. In addition, we sent you an email 14 days prior to your membership term expiring, notifying you that your account will be renewed in line with the renewal terms that you agreed to upon joining, along with instructions on how to downgrade your account if required. (I never ever received a reminder).

Besides most members appear to be inactive anyway.

 

UPDATE – see here a msn conversation I had with a friend:

Her: Yes of course that will be nice.:) I forgot to say are you not on WAYN anymore ?
Me: no… – WAYN ripped me of
Me: I was a VIP member so WAYN took 24 pounds out of my account for the following year.
Me: I wrote I do not want this and they said – sorry wont (cant) refund
Me: so i did a charge back and deleted my WAYN account – no more wayn
Her: Did you ! ha ha good for you, they did that to me once……my account was on an automatic renewal or something ……I was not pleased!
Me: yeah – they claimed to have e-mailed me 14 days before – but this is not true.. i checked and also checked my spam folder – it is so easy using Gmail
Her: mmmmm naughty WAYN eh….I don’t really use it anymore bit bored of it.
Me:yep – make sure your WAYN account it is not on automatic renewal ;)

 

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actually found in the responses of his personal weblog:

Paul Ding: “……On the other hand, an uncle of mine was a lawyer. He told the story of a client who called for legal advice on the weekend. He listened to the story, and said, “We can talk about it on Monday. In the meanwhile, don’t worry too much about it; they can’t put you in jail for that.” The client replied, “But you don’t understand. I’m calling from the jail….”

I found this one very funny :)

 

If you don’t know what the heck I am talking about – read the story here:

 

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