A public mobile phone directory for the UK will launch later this month, loaded with millions of private numbers bought from marketing departments. From June 18, callers to 118800 will be asked for a first name, a surname and a town*. If a match is found, they will be connected to that person's mobile for £1. Connectivity, the …
Of *course* this company would never sell its list of numbers. Far be it from them to enage in the same behaviour that got them the data in the first place because, um, ethically, er...I'll come in again.
Of course, when they go bankrupt, that asset will be sold off like all the others they own to try and recoup investment bux. I suppose technically that's not selling the data.
Oh wait. Yes it is.
Don't believe them the 0800 isn't free!
I don't know if anyone else has managed to get through to the rather depressed sounding customer support staff, but when I asked to have my mobile number removed from their service but apparently, you have to call ON YOUR MOBILE!!!!
I wondered why it said "... call us on 0800 138 6263. Standard network charges apply." Why would network charges apply to an 0800 number?
Another example of this country going down the pan!
I do not _ever_ give my permission to any company that has my details to share this information with any other organisation.
As this company has my personal information there has been a breach of Data Protection.
I contacted the company to have them remove my data which they hold ilegally and they refuse to cease using this data immediately. They will not confirm that they have complied with my request to remove all my mobile numbers.
I have no relationship with this company and they do not have my express or implied consent to hold my information. (I assume this is probably true of millions of other citizens and this needs to be investigated.)
It took over 40 phone calls and 2 hours to get through to talk to someone and then they tell me that they are just sub-contracted to run the service, and they had been briefed that they would be receiving a lot of flak over this.
If they are that confident that the service is useful and commercially viable, why do they use an opt-in policy, instead of buying dodgy lists.
One positive point...
I guess you can at least now find the mobile number of your MP so you can give him/her a personal ear-full about the crapulous privacy laws in this country (and maybe mention their expenses just to drive the point home).
Maybe if MPs are on the receiving end of the data breach for once, they might start to realise what we're all putting up with.
Knew I was right!
Now I know that I was right in giving a garbled false mobile number to any dork asking for it!
Presumably, an un-registered, non-contract, pay-as-you-go number is safe, unless given as a contact to other companies, in which case, how dare they sell it on! I've avoided "registering" my number with Vodaphone for that very reason. I contacted them once via the net, 'koz I was getting some mystery texts that were complete gibberish and they said they couldn't help me unless I was "registered" with them. No thanks. Problem stopped, anyway.
Hmmmmm Broken Business Model
"Hi CompanyX. Would your business plan be viable if you used opt-in?"
"You therefore do not have a viable business plan. Refused."
"Hi CompanyX. Would your business plan be viable if you used opt-in?
"Why..... errrr yes!"
"Why are you using opt-out?"
"Still since it works under opt-in you may operate on that basis."
Anyway it would be interesting to see what their business model is and whether it is viable on the sole basis of people wanting to pay the call charges to find out if their 'mates' number is on an undisclosed list that is not guaranteed to be on and then pay £1 to have a text message with their details sent to what is likely to be an out of date or incorrect number.
Face what might be facts. You know the mobile phone numbers of the people who are important to you. Anyone else, there is hardly likely to be much urgency involved so you would probaly avoid the cost and uncertainty and contact them for the number in a different manner... assuming they wanted to give it to you in the first place.
So..... does this look like a business model that, even with opt-out, when based on uncertain data is going to generate a business sustaining income?
I notice that their FAQ page says that if you make the enquiry via the website then the charge is £1. What if you dial them.... from your mobile. Pick 75p connection charge and add 75p per minute their side. Say it is two minutes, if they don't keep you hangin on the line [not that they would just to screw more money out of you?] so you are up to £2.25.
Virgin mobile will 'apparently' charge you a 75p connection charge and 75p per minute for dialling 118 if you call from your mobile. Hmm maybe that includes both sides but... I'm feeling nasty and anyway it's less profit for the dirt on the other side so I am sure it all comes out in the wash.
Now we are up to £4.50. Add on the £1.00 for the SMS and that's £5.50 blown away and you are still not gauranteed a right answer or a result.
How often, at that rate, are you likely to do that? Even if you 'joined' and used the web interface you are not exactly going to spuke money in their direction. How often do you 'need' to know someone's mobile number? Once you have got it, again assuming it works, what's the 'repeat business' going to be like?
Let's 'guess' 60 million people in the UK....
20% under 16 gives us 48 million
84% in the range 16-Dead gives us just over 40 million possible customers. What's a good percentage for the number of people who are going to use this service from their mobile..... once? Is 1% generous? I think it is.
So that is 400,000 customers @ £3.25 for turnover of £1.3 Million. After that the business goes tits up because there is no repeat business. On the web? Who knows but I'd doubt it's going to skew the figures that much.
That's about 1110 enquires a day. Call it a 12 hour day.. 90 calls an hour. Three minutes on each call. 20 calls per member of staff so.... about 5 staff on the lines. National minimum wage, you don't really think they are going to outsource this do you? 1 supervisor @ £35,000, office plus tech staff @ £40,000. Basic anual wage cost £200,000. Add 20% for tax NI and such stuff... £240,000. Add 25% for operating costs, offices etc £300,000.
Add in the four[?] execs at £100,000 a pop and we are up to £700,000... May as well lay in another £100,000 for their 'staff', bottom wipers, and that will be £800,000 first year operating costs with £1.3 Million turnover that is net profits of £500,000 before tax and then the company dries.....
I'd guess we are looking at something that is not viable as a business? Or, and I would not be surprised, maybe my figures are wrong.... However I just do not see it working. How much have the 'investors' bunged these people??
So... what might 'really' be happening?
Lets say these people have 'scraped' up various lists, cheap, from all the sources of 'marketing contacts' they can. Now they need to 'sanitise' the data. First off we need to get rid of the ones that are wrong or don't exist anymore. It would also be good if we could verify current details about the ones we have got and, whilst we are at it dragnet a greater number of 'marks'.
Hmmm OK let's set up a Mobile Directory with an opt-out so people come to our website to... opt-out or in [natch]. Get the details off them, shunt it through the data we do have, 'loosley' cross-reference things and what do we get out the other side.....?
We paid £5.00 per thousand for dirty data. Let's say..... woopsy.
"Hello Mr Home Improvement Company. What would you pay for verified names addresses and numbers of people who bought double glazing in the last five years."
"Oh, well we get something like a 10% conversion rate for those with an average spend of £500 pounds. Uhm we'll deal you 20% so how about £100 per thousand? Can we try some out first to see how it goes?"
"Sure how about 1000 and, if you pay £150 for them we'll group them close to your operating centers and... we'll knock that down to £125 since you are going to... errr, if you tell us what they buy from you?"
So... that will be £125 for an outlay of £5 OK, so I haven't included costs but if you are charging people to sanitise their own data and then making a little bit on top of that.... So... that will be £125 for an outlay of £5.
Run that to a Million numbers and.... £125,000. Do it for 10 outlets in one product area and that will be £1.25 million. Take 10 product areas and that will be £12.5 million. Run the data you generate from sales and demographics back through the system to make the data 4 times more reliable and that's £60 million.
Do it on 5 million numbers and we are up to £120 million. Run 'the scheme' three times a year and £360 million. Start including land line numbers and mass mail marketing and presto! What was once only worth a one off £500,000 has become a BILLION pound a year on year money spinner!!!!!111!!!
Did I hear someone say PROFIT!? Hmmm... perhaps the numbers are making me dizzy
Someone else on commenting on another article on El Reg gave this link....
Where someone else quotes Wikipedia [yaw hawk spit]...."Wikipedia's plain English version of the act: "Data may only be used for the specific purposes for which it was collected.""
No worries. You [did not] did too give your permission for your details to be used for home improvement products. See, says so here.... you bought double glazing. We got your data, you sanitised it for us so now we have sold it on, at a huge profit compared to what we bought it for, so you are getting lots of calls from companies selling home improvement products. See, all legal and above board.
Anyway we don't give a shit, we are on a Billion a year. Do we look bothered. DO WE?
Having looked at the site there is no provision for opting out that I can find and if I want to find out what information they have on me they want £10. I highly recommend that nobody uses this "service" as it is no more than a con. There is no quarantee that you would get through to the right person either. This is yet another company that skirts around the very edge of acceptability and privacy laws. Scumbags.
Good for you , kep them talking and waste their time....
Although I'm lazier than that. I listen for the first line or two then tell them thats something I'm potentially interested in but need a pen and paper to jot down the details and would they mind handing on...
Pop the phone next to your favorate speaker playing your favorate Shania Twain cd (substitute the cd music for your choice) - and get on with your life. I have a line 2 on my phone so if someone "real" calls, I still get that call.
They will hang up eventually. Probably call back, but hey, more Shania.
Paris? Shania?... got a coin for me to toss?
Text E to 118800 to opt out
That is all
I don's see the problem..
because they don't appear to have me in their scummy database, phew!
My name is long and probably unique, and I tried with every shortened/ abrieveated version of it.
Their site says they txt your victim asking them to call you. From some comments I was thinking their scam is to claim to have almost anybodys number and claim to have texted them for you. How would you know? Apparently not, unless thier DB/site was broken.
Getting cold calls, esp from autodialer silent calls is infurieating even more so if your abroad and/or on voice mail, MAKES ME ANGRY!, you won't like me if i get angry.
Fortunately I reckon they'l die, trouble is someone will buy their DB from the administrator.....
Phone to opt out during office hours.....
IVR "our office hours are monday to friday 9-5 please call back during that period. Goodbye"
Back off, I know google
118800 is the child of Connectivity ltd in Reading. A little google searching gives their website connectivity.co.uk, now apparently just an alias to 118800, but previously its own entity now preserved in the google cache.
The about us page:
Why not try emailing them if you can't get through on the 0800 number, the format of their emails is thus:
firstname.lastname@example.org - Chief Technical Officer
email@example.com - Marketing Director
Or alternatively if they still won't remove you for free, ring, write or turn up out of the blue at head office:
Tel: 0118 902 6900
Merlin House, Brunel Rd, Theale, Reading, Berkshire RG7 4AB
Dodgy, I am registered with TPS and yet they found me!
Same story - they said "more than one match" although I know I'm one of only two in the world with my name.(the other one lives in Holland).
I think they want you to type more information so they can validate/verify the info they already have! Dodgy as hell.
Anyway they did find me when I typed in my street name as well. Funny that, because I've been listed with TPS for several years (and just went to the TPS site to check and indeed it is registered there).
Bunch of no-good fraudsters is what they are!
Error - Page Not Available
I think I broke it. I gave it some details (not mine) and got an error screen. I wonder if that's a polite way of stopping me from repetitive searching for people or whether their system has a problem?
Anyway, it didn't seem to know about me, so that's good.
Anyone "opted out" and found their CLI goes titsup ?
I have a relative who tried this "opting out" by texting "E" before they even checked to see if they were on the database after seeing this on the TV news. Now every time they call someone from their mobile their number isn't being sent out (ie CLI). I thought this was a network function so could this be a coincidence, or are they in bed with the operators ?
Surely setting your phone not to send your number when you make a call will have exactly the same effect, and not cost you a text or any additional charges. And how does texting anything to a third party affect this ?
If there is some collusion between 118800 and the network operators, then someone needs an arse kicking if they think not sending your number to the person you are calling means opting out of a directory service you never opted into in the first place. All I think my relative has done is confirmed their number is valid. Doh !
Four weeks to become ex-directory? What are they doing all that time? It should take 4 seconds.
Talk to the Boss
So, i searched google for Shona forster and Connectivity, found the contact us page on the 2nd search page, clicked on the Cached link, got Shona's (she's the bright spark who runs connectivity) direct line number and called her up.. surprisingly she answered, obviously not that many people have actually tried to complain to connectivity themselves, so:
Shona: Hi Shona Forster speaking
Me: Hi <<pause ,,, no way!>> I'd like to complain about your new directory service that is going online next week, i think its a gross invasion of privacy. You shouldn't collect and hold private information on people without consent.
Shona: I see well, can i ask why you think your privacy has been compromised, and who are you?
Me: I'm just a member of the public my name is xxx xxx, i think my privacy will be compromised when you lose my information. And even though you have an X directory system which takes 4 weeks! to work you will still be keeping my details not removing them so you can still lose my details, that is someone could steal them or whatever
Shona: You can have them removed but they may get put back again when we get new information from other companies that you shared your information with we advise you leave them on
Me: Oh come on! you know that half that information was gather because the person didn't see or check the right box on some marketing scam, and if i leave them on how do i know if you've lost them.
Shona: Well were not responsible for how the information was gathered.
Me: Nice side-step, <<me thinks 'we didn't torture them so it doesn't matter how we got the info...'>> what about data loss?
Shona: We won't loose your data
Me: Well im pretty much an expert on security and i can tell you that nearly all systems have suffered from some sort of breach.
Shona: I'm a marketeer i dont know about the technical side
Me: Well, ok. Name me a major government that hasn't publicly admitted a breach.
Shona: We're not a government though.
Me: <<lol>> Ok, name me a bank.. or any other sector that hasn't lost some data? You're gonig to be the first company ever to never loose any data or have any security breach i take it?
Shona: Err, well i can see that im not going to get anywhere with this conversation.
Me: No, that because i've shown you that you're wrong, thank you for your time, bye.