Saturday, August 15, 2009

Verizon's Onerous Terms of Use

The terms and conditions of use for this card are incredibly troublesome. Nothing new here, but its still worth looking at the disingenuous logic. (To see the terms and conditions better, click on the image.)

1. The card requires that you acknowledge reading the terms and conditions of use. Yet the card states: "Terms and Conditions of use are subject to change without notice." (emphasis added). So what is the point of agreeing to terms and conditions of use, if the company can change them at any time? (While this is not an online terms of service, take a look at District Court in Texas Rejects Online Terms of Service as Illusory and Unenforceable.)

2. Technically this card is supposed to be a convenience feature to prepay for your future use of the phone. One of the conditions is that: "Airtime expires 30 days from the date it is added to the account". So after thirty days your remaining money evaporates! This is a blatant rip-off.

So why does Verizon use in its ads the image of a friendly sympathetic guy backed-up by a large "we are there for you" staff? Based on the terms of use, this does not compute.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Misplaced Regulatory Blame II

Back in May I wrote about misplaced regulatory blame. One aspect of this issue (by those opposing regulation) was that privacy regulation was ineffective and expensive as discussed by Lee Gomes in his Forbes article: "The Hidden Cost of Privacy". The reality it that the regulations Mr. Gomes was railing against weren't real regulations. The regulations simply require the disclosure of privacy practices and did not constrain how a company actually broadcasts private data to the world-at-large. But wait, like an infomercial, there is more!

Forbes, in that very same issue, also had an opinion piece by William Baldwin: "Privacy for Sale". Mr. Baldwin writes:

"Junk phone calls, sites that snoop on your Web surfing, medical Peeping Toms--your privacy is under constant attack. There ought to be a law!
No, on second thought, there ought to be a product. When commerce and legislation compete to solve a problem, commerce usually does a better job."
Similar to Mr. Gomes article both these articles fail to acknowledge that the right of privacy belongs to the "recipient" not the instigator. Since the free-market (especially Forbes) promotes the concept of self-responsibility; these articles - instead of lambasting regulation - should have demanded that companies act responsibility to protect privacy.

What is ludicrous is that instead of demanding responsible corporate behavior, Mr. Baldwin advocates that people buy products to defend their privacy!!!! The obvious between the lines interpretation is that corporations have an unrighteous entitlement to invade your privacy. If you want to protect it, you need to pay-up or suffer the consequences. Sounds a bit like extortion.

So why should I have to pay a private company to protect my privacy? From my point of view, if companies are not willing to act ethically and truly respect the privacy of the public, regulate them.