Tuesday, March 21, 2006

FreePay Changes its Look & Settles Case of Selling Customer Data

Free site company, FreePay, seems to have changed the look of part of their site. Just recently, after changing their terms of service to limit the ability of its customers to receive prizes by changing the amount of time they have to complete the requirements to get the merchandise. Now, when a user visits a page for their referrals they are getting with a graphic showing how many "steps" they have completed towards finishing the site. The promised method that was supposed to allow users to get referrals easier seems to be a simple mass mailer where a member can enter in email addresses of people and a personalized message.

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This does not seem to be a really great method for getting referrals, as the anyone can send emails through an email client using the CC or BCC functions just as easily. The way completed and non completed referrals are shown is also different, and there is a short FAQ below the section informing users of how referrals and the rest of the site works, making it somewhat easier since less explanation is required once people are signed up.

Another development is that FreePay/Gratis recently reached a settlement with the NY State Attorneys office for breaching its privacy policy and selling it's customers data to spammers. FreePay lost it's TRUSTe privacy license in February of last year. They were supposedly back in business with them, but TRUSTe's website says otherwise. Although the settlement forced the spammers, Dratan Media, to delete all Gratis's sold mailing list, it may have already been passed on to third and fourth parties. I, personally, have been receiving a great deal of opt-in spam mail coming from Conxion.net and twotimesnever.com, all of which I report through SpamCop. This is email I never opted in too, and will not use the opt-out function for fear of receiving more spam from this unscrupulous company.

My FreePay petition seems to have been a total bust as I was flamed and ignored for starting one. Many people also decided to start their own, thus making the effort to fight FreePay completely disorganized and worthless. None the less, the fact remains that FreePay seems like it's losing money. From selling their mailing list, to limiting customers ability to get free prizes, it seems to be close to the end for FreePay and possibly other free sites.

'Free IPod' Takes Privacy Toll: Wired News

Settlement Reached In Internet Breach of Privacy Case
The End of FreePay - ToS Changes Limit User's Ability to get Prizes

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