The story so far: My broadband supplier, o2 invited me to take part in an online market research survey. They promised not to use my email address for any other purpose.
I happily took their survey - they provide a great service but then o2 broke their promise. Since taking the survey I've been emailed by 2 more research companies.
Who else has o2 shared my personal information with?
When I first called o2 to complain that their market research company (TNS) appeared to have shared my email address with another marketing company (Valued Opinions) they denied even carrying out research, 'That's just spam' they said. Then I sent them the emails.
After investigating o2 put the survey on hold while they investigated the link between TNS and Valued Opinions. And I was happy about that.
But almost immediately after I put the phone down on my last conversation with o2's manager I received another email. This latest email invites me to take part in a focus group about my o2 mobile phone. o2 will pay me £60 to hear my feedback. Importantly the email wasn't from o2 - it was from a company called Indiefield.
When I called the person named in Indiefield's email I discovered she didn't even work for Indiefield. So I was interested in how she got my email address - especially as I had just complained to o2. In fact it turned out she hadn't sent out the invitations and she didn't know the email would give out her personal email address and phone number. All weekend she's been inundated by o2 customers hoping to claim their £60. That's not very professional is it o2?
So now o2 has shared my email address with 3 separate companies. Who else do they plan to share my details with?
I checked the privacy declaration I made when I signed up with o2 and was reassured to see that I had restricted access to my email address to o2 - for their use alone, no third parties. (o2's website also advises customers how to avoid spam by - keeping their email address private!).
I'm happy to take part in market research, after all that's how companies gain customer insight to help develop and improve their services. I took part in o2's broadband survey willingly. I was reassured that o2 wouldn't use my email address for anything else. If o2 want to ask me about my mobile phone that's fine too - but only if o2 has the courtesy to ask first. Don't just go handing out my email address o2 - if you make so freely with my personal information how can you be sure the people you give it to will won't do the same?
Today I've emailed o2's Chief Executive Matthew Key to ensure o2 is aware of its obligations both to its customers and under the Data Protection Act.
Of course I could type Mr Key's email address here in case o2 has been careless with your email address too. But I have more respect.
I'll let you know how o2 reply...