Friday, September 07, 2007

BarclayCard and P:Cubed - more ducking and diving

A sure sign of trouble is when everyone blames everyone else, but no-one is prepared to take responsibility. I don't think its deliberate deception necessarily; see Napoleon's quote above.
I wrote to Raoul Miller at P:Cubed and asked:
I am led to believe that your company supplied my name and address and/or sent out a letter on their behalf to me in July 2007, promoting BarclayCard. Is this the case?
I also mentioned the ECT Act.
Raoul Miller replied as follows:
Dear Donn,
Many thanks for your note below.
To ensure absolute clarity: P:Cubed is a Direct Marketing Services Business. We do not own consumer identification data but instead enrich consumer behavioural and contact data, available to our clients under various access licenses and perform an analytical, data processing, modelling and advisory services function; better described at www.p-cubed.co.za
We are not in a position to comment or provide opinion on the ECT Act but would suggest the following website for details as to the objectives and application of such act.
To specifically answer your questions below and to provide transparency of the process:
  • Your identity details would have been sourced by ABSA (who operate the Barclaycard brand) from a registered marketing list provider who would be a member of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
  • Your address details would have been then obtained and enriched from one of the two national credit bureaus
  • Regarding the ‘Do not Contact’ list, commonly referred to as Opt-out list in the Direct Marketing Industry:
Opt-out services are in place to provide consumer protection from the receipt of unsolicited direct marketing offers – the next draft of the Consumer Data Protection Bill (DTI) will in fact provide for a national Optout register which will in all likelihood be branded by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
Given that the Consumer Data Protection Bill has not yet been promulgated into law (it is still in the process of being drafted); there is no one central database against which a consumer can register their identification details to ensure that they do not form part of a direct marketing campaign.
Once legislation is in place and the central Opt-out infrastructure has been built, this additional level of consumer protection will be in place.
There are a number of Opt-out databases being maintained nationally with no one primary database at this point in time.
To try and ensure the most comprehensive service and coverage, P:Cubed host our own service as well as acquire copies of the relevant databases on a regular basis to add to its growing pool of Opt-out data. Please feel free to visit www.optout.co.za to register.
The currency of these databases is though limited to the regularity of update (as opposed to registration by consumers on such list) and the access to which any one organisation (including P:Cubed) is given to such databases – there is no current legislation in this regard and timing of consumer registration and data acquisition by any party impacts the ability to completely cover all registrations effectively.
I do hope this assists; please drop me a line if you require further information.
So much for clarity. I added the bold bits because they are particularly unclear and sound like Pentagon-speak. I tried contacting him on 082-379-9994 but just got voice mail.
I have had to read this several times to figure out what he actually said. Does this mean that my name is not on his opt-out list which is why I should register? Does it mean that because they are not compelled by law to use the DMA's list that therefore they do not? Is he trying to say that the bank, being a member of the DMA, should have screened their data before passing it on to them to "enrich" it from the Experian database?
BarclayCard has on different occasions said that they got my details from both ETL Solutions and/or Effective Intelligence. Both have assured me that this is not the case and they are fully aware of my "do not contact" status, and have been for some time.
Now we come to the "two national credit bureaus". I assume he means Experian and TransUnion ITC. I have contacted both of them some time ago (2004), when I was writing my Privacy blog, and asked them to make a note that I do not wish their data to be used for marketing purposes. They both refused or ignored my request.
According to Brian Mdluli of the DMA, the ECT Act doesn't apply to snail mail because it isn't electronic communication, which is a nice loophole. When I phoned him on 083-401-5900 (They changed premises last month and are still waiting for land lines) he said the DMA had taken up the matter with ABSA and that remedial action would be taken. I suggested that BarclayCard should be forced to send a letter of apology to all the people it sent the original letter to, but he said I was being unreasonable. Maybe they could reduce it to the people on the DNC list who were sent the letter and who should not have been. BarclayCard promised to send me a letter of apology in early August. I guess snail mail is to blame, but it hasn't arrived after 4 weeks.

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