Aside

Will Australia Go Into A “Click Frenzy”? I Doubt It

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Disclaimer:

All statements made herein are my opinion and based on the content of the Click Frenzy website at time of writing. Updates will be made as I have time but I encourage readers to check the Click Frenzy website directly to see if statements made are still accurate

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Earlier this morning I happened across your standard “press release regurgitated as news” article on a Fairfax news site. What was interesting about it was that an Australian retailer body attempting to artificially induce a “cyber sales event” here in Australia modeled after the so-called “Cyber Monday” in the United States.

Unfortunately the Fairfax reporter had failed to do any actual journalism on the subject and given it all smelt a bit funny I decided to check out this “Click Frenzy” website and found a number of oddities about it.

No Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy

Initially when I visited the site I was shocked to find it didn’t have a linked terms & conditions page or privacy policy. Yet they wanted people to hand over their personal details including email addresses and phone numbers. No way in hell would I, as a consumer, hand over personal details to a site with no privacy policy.

I mentioned as much on Twitter (including the @clickfrenzy account to ensure they knew) and a few hours later a crudely written privacy policy had appeared on the site. Further investigation shows all they had done was copy and paste the privacy policy from their parents site.

Privacy policy on Click Frenzy:

Privacy Policy

Click Frenzy respects your privacy and is committed to complying with Australia’s National Privacy Principles and the standards of the Australian Privacy Act. Though we are not legally obligated to comply, we choose to do so in the best interests of our readers and sponsors. The following principles outline how we will collect, use, disclose, store and dispose of your personal information, in electronic form.

Collection and use of personal information

  • Click Frenzy will only store information that is of direct commercial relevance to the company.
  • This information is collected for the purposes of providing the services purchased by the customer or communications requested by the customer.
  • We will always use fair and lawful ways to collect personal information.
  • Reasonable steps will be taken to ensure personal information is relevant, accurate and current.
  • We will take reasonable steps to protect the personal information we hold from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.
  • Access to personal information is restricted to authorised Click Frenzy personnel only.
  • Our system automatically captures the IP address of those who post comments. We reserve the right in circumstances such as attempts to mislead other users about a poster’s identity, to share that information. We will protect the anonymity of those who comment in good faith.

Passing of information to third parties

  • Click Frenzy will not pass any information of a sensitive, confidential or personal nature to a third party unless that subscriber consents to us doing so.
  • Access to Special Reports is complimentary via Power Retail, but the information you provide will be passed onto the third party sponsoring the Special Report as a condition of the free download.
  • To the extent that the website contains links to sites operated by third parties and not related to Click Frenzy services, these linked websites are not controlled by Click Frenzy and we are not responsible for the privacy practices of these companies

Queries or complaints

Any queries or complaints regarding this Privacy Policy or its implementation should be made to:Privacy Officer

privacy@clickfrenzy.com.au
32 Ricketts Road
Mt Waverley
Vic 3149

Privacy policy on Power Retail:

Privacy Policy

The Media Pad Pty Ltd, publisher of Power Retail, respects your privacy and is committed to complying with Australia’s National Privacy Principles and the standards of the Australian Privacy Act. Though we are not legally obligated to comply, we choose to do so in the best interests of our readers and sponsors. The following principles outline how we will collect, use, disclose, store and dispose of your personal information, in electronic form.

Collection and use of personal information

  • The Media Pad Pty Ltd will only store information that is of direct commercial relevance to the company.
  • This information is collected for the purposes of providing the services purchased by the customer or communications requested by the customer.
  • We will always use fair and lawful ways to collect personal information.
  • Reasonable steps will be taken to ensure personal information is relevant, accurate and current.
  • We will take reasonable steps to protect the personal information we hold from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.
  • Access to personal information is restricted to authorised The Media Pad Pty Ltd personnel only.
  • Our system automatically captures the IP address of those who post comments. We reserve the right in circumstances such as attempts to mislead other users about a poster’s identity, to share that information. We will protect the anonymity of those who comment in good faith.

Passing of information to third parties

  • The Media Pad Pty Ltd will not pass any information of a sensitive, confidential or personal nature to a third party unless that subscriber consents to us doing so.
  • Access to Special Reports is complimentary via Power Retail, but the information you provide will be passed onto the third party sponsoring the Special Report as a condition of the free download.
  • To the extent that the website contains links to sites operated by third parties and not related to The Media Pad Pty Ltd services, these linked websites are not controlled by The Media Pad Pty Ltd and we are not responsible for the privacy practices of these companies

Queries or complaints

Any queries or complaints regarding this Privacy Policy or its implementation should be made to:

Privacy Officer
The Media Pad
PO Box 6088
St Kilda Road Central VIC 8008

As you can see is all they’ve done is a few bits of find/replace and even left in bits that are entirely irrelevant to the Click Frenzy website, mainly the “Special Reports” section which has no relation to the Click Frenzy content.

Clearly this privacy policy has been rushed into place as a knee jerk reaction, one can only hope it’ll be cleaned up and made more relevant for the Click Frenzy website.

Update: Curiously about an hour after this article was posted the “Special Reports” section on the Click Frenzy privacy policy vanished. The rest remains a copy/paste job full of vague terms.

Further update: Down below you’ll find they have now have well defined privacy polices

Seems To Not Respect the Australian Spam Act

The Australian Spam Act has three main tenants:

  • Consent
  • Identification
  • Unsubscribe

Consent isn’t an issue here as a user does have to voluntarily sign up to the service (although the service does no verification and it is possible to sign someone else up against their consent, which is frowned upon).

However the emails Click Frenzy do currently send do currently appear to violate the last two tenants of the act. I created an alias on one of my domains specifically for testing the site and submitted a registration. This is the email I got:

From: “Click Frenzy 2012″ <info@clickfrenzy.com.au>
To: [removed]
Subject: Thank you for registering for Click Frenzy 2012

Congratulations [removed]

You’re in!

At 7pm Tuesday November 20th Eastern Daylight Savings Time (for the east coast of Australia), you’ll have a front row seat to the most exciting online shopping event in Australia’s history.

Share Click Frenzy with your friends and family who won’t want to miss the amazing deals on offer.

Cheers,

The Click Frenzy Team

Identification

First off they haven’t totally failed at this. The From address and the sign off at least make it mostly clear who it is coming from but the Act does require more – usually that it also include some sort of other contact point such as a phone number or physical address. As it stands the current format makes it far too easy for scammers to spoof a “legitimate” email from Click Frenzy.

Unsubscribe

Here Click Frenzy has seemingly failed the test. They must provide a working unsubscribe facility which is clearly marked in either their email or on their website. An “all enquiries” contact point is not sufficient to satisfy this requirement of the Spam Act. This is something Click Frenzy best resolve as quickly as possible as the fines for violating these tenants can be extremely high.

Details Don’t Match Up

The website proudly declares it is powered by Power Retail which also has its own news item announcing this fact. But the ACN on the Click Frenzy website is for a completely different company:

Global Marketplace Pty Ltd – ACN 159 459 408

I am somewhat amused that this entity is not registered for GST given that having to pay GST is one of the continuing gripes of the Australian retailing industry.

2012-11-20 – Update: As pointed out in the comments the ACN now shows as being registered for GST since July. At time of writing it was showing as not list which seems somewhat odd.

The ACN is also registered in NSW but address offered as a contact point is in Victoria. This isn’t super unusual but does seem somewhat odd in this circumstance.

Will This Actually Work?

They have successfully managed to build up some buzz for their site thanks to journalists at both Fairfax and News Ltd helpfully just regurgitating their press material with little attempt at investigative journalism.

I feel however attempting to artificially create a “cyber sales event” in Australia is a desperate act of an industry that has been far too reluctant to evolve with the times. Cost is not the only reason people shop online, they also want decent service and better range of products than can be acquired in Australia.

Creating a once a year event which they’ve kinda but not really tried to associate with the Melbourne Cup by branding itself as “The Sale That Stops A Nation” stinks of desperation and lack of any original thought.

Furthermore trying to force both the retailers and the consumers to funnel through the site strikes me as slightly creepy (still not clear where the personal details and purchasing habit data will go) and open to manipulation.

Given it would seem the planning for the Click Frenzy failed to think of privacy policies and adhering to the Spam act I have sincerely doubt this attempt by Australian retailers to “win us back” is going to work out terribly well for them.

One last thing – I will award a shiny medal to any Australian journalist that manages to think critically about these sort of things for a few minutes and stop just regurgitating press release material.

Postscript

Oh and one other thing that technically isn’t an issue but bugs me – the site uses no form of SSL to safeguard the personal details in transit. This really annoys me as SSL certificates are cheap and easy to implement and there’s no real excuse not to have them.

Updates

Someone is at Click Frenzy is clearly reading this feedback. The Privacy Policy has now been updated to be more relevant to the Click Frenzy content (although a lot of it is still overly vague for my liking). It now reads:

Privacy Policy

Global Marketplace Pty Ltd (parent company of Click Frenzy) respects your privacy and is committed to complying with Australia’s National Privacy Principles and the standards of the Australian Privacy Act. Though we are not legally obligated to comply, we choose to do so in the best interests of our audience. The following principles outline how we will collect, use, disclose, store and dispose of your personal information, in electronic form.

Collection and use of personal information

  • Click Frenzy will only store information that is of direct commercial relevance to this event.
  • This information is collected for the purposes of providing access to special Click Frenzy content and updates during the build-up to the event and during the event.
  • We will always use fair and lawful ways to collect personal information.
  • Reasonable steps will be taken to ensure personal information is relevant, accurate and current.
  • We will take reasonable steps to protect the personal information we hold from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.
  • Access to personal information is restricted to authorised Click Frenzy personnel only.

Passing of information to third parties

  • Click Frenzy will not pass any information of a sensitive, confidential or personal nature to a third party unless that subscriber consents to us doing so.
  • To the extent that the website contains links to sites operated by third parties and not related to Click Frenzy services, these linked websites are not controlled by Click Frenzy and we are not responsible for the privacy practices of these companies
  • Queries or complaints

Any queries or complaints regarding this Privacy Policy or its implementation should be made to:

Privacy Officer
privacy@clickfrenzy.com.au
32 Ricketts Road
Mt Waverley
Vic 3149

I’d really like to see what is defined as “consent’ here for the third party bit given the sign up procedure never actually informs the user what they are consenting to.

2012-10-17

Power Retail released  a self congratulatory article on how well the retail sign up is doing (although no actual names have been given yet). The bit that caught my eye was where the crow about having a tame Fairfax reporter:

“An article syndicated across the Fairfax news network on Monday sparked a further stampede of retailer, consumer and media interest, with more publicity to come.”

I find this a particularly sad reflection on the state of journalism in Australia where the open manipulation of the press can be seen as a winning idea.

At this time the site still does not have a working unsubscribe function.

2012-10-24

Well it took them a while but full points to Click Frenzy and their parent Power Retail for now having a far more accurate and in-depth privacy policy and all new, relatively sane terms & conditions page.

I won’t reproduce them in full here as they are both now quite lengthy but it seems they finally got their hands on a tech savy lawyer or two, something they really should have done prior to launching the site. Better late that never however.

Unfortunately the site still doesn’t have a clearly defined unsubscribe system in place as required under the Australian SPAM act.

2012-10-31

Seems some time last week Click Frenzy sent out an update to those signed up to the service. I initially missed it as, amusingly, Gmail filtered it as spam (with no training from me). The good news is:

  • The email was very clearly identified and much more professional
  • Had a clearly marked and working unsubscribe link

Good to see they finally got all their requirements in a row. Being called a troll by a writer for Power Recall was an unexpected bonus but seriously guys – you launch a brand new ecommerce site in Australia without running it past some semi-comptent IT savy lawyers first? Yeah that kind of deserves a trolling.

2012-11-20 – Click Fail

So the big day has arrived and not all that unexpectedly things have fallen over, not just for Click Frenzy but also the participating retailers.

I do confess to enjoying some delicious schadenfreude in watching it all unfold and I’ll happily admit building website to take massive loads is no easy task. The flip side of course is Click Frenzy knew exactly what date to prepare for this to happen yet used no forward caching system, no CDN (content distribution network) and apparently just a single forward facing server.

Given they did launch the site sans terms & conditions and privacy policy I am not all the least bit surprised it was unprepared to handle the loads.

In addition the reports I’m hearing from others is the deals aren’t all that great, however I am unable to verify that as none of the retailers I might even vaguely be interested in are responding all that well at the moment either.

The post analysis of this should be quite interesting, particularly whether the Fairfax and News Ltd journalists might actually do some real investigation or just regurgitate whatever syndicated media release Power Retail hands them.

Further Update

The Click Frenzy website has now magically moved onto a proper cloud website provider and seems to actually be working. This is nice and all (but probably far too late to mitigate the PR damage) but still doesn’t really help the average consumer as the linked retailer websites are still not coping.

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9 thoughts on “Will Australia Go Into A “Click Frenzy”? I Doubt It

    • I’m generally not in favour of passing any personal data over the wire unencrypted (although I bet the argument is because it’s buried in binary PDF it’s harder to pull out) but given the entire banking systems still relies on handwritten signatures as some sort of valid identification it’s all a bit much of a muchness.

      Personally I avoid direct debit systems, far too many times do you see them screw up and over/multi debit ala the recent events in Brisbane with the Translink Go cards. Much prefer push systems.

  1. Southernbelle001 says:

    There is nothing on the site that states what payment types will be accepted and whether like ebay-you are covered for 30 days.  In event of not receiving item – anything about refunds – no.
    Suggest paypal be utlised for this, as Aus are not happy with paying online with credit cards yet.

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