Posts Tagged ‘afternoon tea’

Late week I was left with a really nasty feeling in my mouth.  Had a disturbing phone call that we should all sit up and take notice of.  Went something like this:

Caller:  Hello, have I reached (my address)?
Me:  Who is calling?
C:  This is Nadine.  Is this (my address)?
M: Nadine, where are you calling from?
Nadine: (Name) Finance Company.
M: How did you get this number?
N: Is this (my address)?
M: Why do you want to know?
N: We are trying to trace a near neighbour of yours.  (Name of person) at (their address)

Well, the alarm bells were screaming in my head by this point.  I felt like my privacy had been breached, but was SURE that the other person’s privacy was breached in a big way.  I do not know this person, but I now know that a person by that name lives at that address and that they have a finance company looking for them – assuming then that they are experiencing financial difficulties.

Little to say I was incensed!  After a few more attempts at getting me to divulge whether I knew this person, knew if they were home, had seen them recently etc, I quite disgustedly rang off.  And jumped straight on to a telephone search engine to look up the company address.  And surprise surprise, it wasn’t exactly easy to find.  Had to dig quite a bit, finding out along the way that a submission had been made to the ACCC by their parent company when it bought out the debt business.  Anyway, get a number I did in the end.  And rang it, to get this:

Person: Hello, (their name) speaking
Me: Have I reached (company name) Finance
P: Yes
M: I would like to speak to a Senior Manager
P: With regard to?
M: A breach of privacy.
P: You can talk to me.
M: What is your name please.
P: (gave his name again)
M: And what is your position please.
P: You have reached the Compliance Department and I am the Compliance Manager.  I also deal with complaints.
M: Is it usual for a Manager to answer an outside line with only their personal name and not even the company name?
P: For me yes, how can I help you?
I then went on to relay the conversation I had just had and my concerns and he promptly told me that they were acting within the industry guidelines.
M: What guidelines would they be?
P: Those laid down by the ACCC and ASIC.

Now, good friends operate a Hervey Bay Pawn Shop and I helped them to set up their procedures required by ASIC for financial operations that came in to effect last year.  I happen to KNOW that a serious breach of privacy had occurred.   Despite my protestations, the person (won’t breach HIS privacy by using HIS name!) assured me that they were acting legally.  When pushed for information on how they came to use my phone number and address, he finally told me that they had undertaken a Mirus-online search.  I demanded that he remove my address and phone number from all the records they hold and not to contact me again.  He told me he would and when I enquired as to how I could be sure, he told me he would put it in writing to me which I agreed that he should do.

Still not satisfied, I began to think how I take this matter further.  I have a pretty good idea of how government agencies operate, but have to admit, wasn’t sure where I should start with this one.  In the end phone the local member of parliament’s office.  We discussed the issue and between us thought the Privacy Commissioner in the Office of the Information Commissioner or maybe even the Ombudsman were the place to begin.  Turns out that the Qld Privacy Commissioner only deals with privacy issues with dealings by government departments, but the very helpful lady there told me that the Australian Information Commissioner did handle issues with companies as well as federal government departments.  So the next phone call was to them.  Suffice to say, there was agreement that the third party’s privacy had been breached, but I cannot make a third party complaint, but as my name was NOT ONCE used, it was felt that mine was not breached.  As we are listed in the WHite Pages, and that product is a SALEABLE item (yep, the databases of our info are passed around), then I had no recourse.

The next call I made was to Mirus Online – on a number that we eventually found after a lot of digging on their website.  The poor girl who answered the phone had no idea how bad her afternoon was about to get and after repeatedly stalling me when I asked to speak with a Manager, finally transferred me when I explained to her that she did not get paid enough to have to deal with people as angry as I was!  That did the trick.  The ‘Acting Team Leader’ who then took the call assured me that all my information was in the public domain – you know, every time you re-direct your mail and neglect to tick the privacy box, every time you enter a competition and neglect to tick the privacy box, yada yada yada, we collect that information.  This is of course despite me assuring her that none of those applied to me.  Suffice to say, they have our info – and much more than just the basics.

When quizzed as to whom they SELL the listings, I was assured it was just to Debt Collection and Management agencies and companies seeking information for marketing purposes – HELLO – I guess that means almost anyone who really wants it.

Sure, you can opt out – give me your email and I will send a form.  By now I am really pissed off.  NOT BLOODY LIKELY.  Is it on your website?  Yes, look for the Suppression Form.  Of course, their website does not have any such form, nor does it have a search function.  All it does is refer you constantly to their phone number.  So I suggest that we all contact them and demand that our information is purged from their listings.  Go to their website (sorry, no link – not helping them in any way!) and then go to the About Page and choose the Privacy tab.  The phone contact is in Melbourne, but the 1300 number just gives recorded messages with no choice for this sort of issue.


On a much lighter note, we came together on Sunday to farewell Meredith with an afternoon tea.  I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed getting back in to the baking – it has really been a while since I did any real quantity! 
Although she and Andrew will be living only a couple of hours away in Mt Perry, and they will return frequently, I know how the contact will lessen with time.  Sad to see her go, but happy that there will be less time on the road between them now.  They have become very dear friends over the years.  Au revoir dear friend – let’s keep in touch!


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