Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Shopping for Spam 

I saw this banner ad on Television Without Pity and thought it sounded too good to be true. So I command-clicked on it to see what it was all about (advertisers oughta love tabbed browsing). The site, RetailReportCard.com, offers you "FREE money to shop!" They say that "secret shoppers" will go to major stores and evaluate them. They also say that "membership is 100% FREE."

I went ahead and clicked through to the registration form, thinking there had to be a catch. I found what I was looking for in the terms and conditions, which I copied and pasted from their tiny form window into TextEdit so I could actually read them:
Right to Sell/License Data: CRC may sell and/or license the personal information that you provide to us to third party businesses. These businesses may include providers of direct marketing services and applications, including lookup and reference, data enhancement, suppression and validation, email marketing, and telemarketing.
So not only are you getting FREE money, you're also getting spam, junk mail, and phone calls in the middle of dinner. Needless to say, I didn't sign up to be a secret shopper.

"CRC" stands for Consumer Research Corporation. I searched for some information about the company and found this article. Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds their offers too good to be true, and I hadn't even gotten to the part of registration where I had to agree to sign up for six "offers" from CRC partners. And the scariest part of all this - which actually has nothing to do with anything - is that CRC's parent company, Subscriber Base Inc., is headquartered right down the street from my house.


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