Most websites you visit are monitoring your behavior, even after you leave. They install little files like cookies, beacons, and flash cookies to see where you go, what you buy, even what text you’re typing. WSJ analyzed the tracking behavior of the top 50 websites online to see how each of them is watching your every step, and then reselling the info to the highest bidder. For instance, did you know that Dictionary.com gives its users up to 159 cookies, 23 flash cookies and 41 beacons for third parties?
On Monday, a man in San Francisco rode his bike up to a woman holding an iPhone and snatched it out of her hand, then took off. What he didn’t know was that the woman had just walked out of her company’s office to test a new GPS program that provides real time tracking. She went back inside, gave the police location updates over the phone, and man was arrested a half-mile away, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Crime Scene blog.
MasterCard has decided to expand into online retailing, so it’s opened a store that’s sort of Amazon lite. Well, Amazon several design iterations ago. Actually the site looks like one of those themed mini-stores eBay keeps promoting these days, but the merchandise is all new and tailored to your shopping patterns. And by “tailored,” I mean that the card issuer is using special customer behavior software to predict the things you’re most likely to buy, which it then shows to you.
A longtime reader sent in a couple of links to websites that let you find out more about your food supply chain, if you’re into that sort of stuff. Where is my milk from? matches carton codes with a list of dairies published by the FDA. FoodLogiq is less user-friendly and requires free registration, but you can apparently use it to track produce from participating growers. (Thanks to Cy!)
UPS’ website promises that they will deliver Corey’s Dell Vizio 37″ LCD monitor tomorrow, which would be exciting, except the website has said the same thing every day for the past two weeks. UPS’ customer service representatives insist that the package is lost and that Dell needs to initiate a trace. Dell would be happy to accommodate—who wouldn’t want to trace a lost package?—but their customer service representative claims that it’s Dell policy not to initiate a trace until 48 hours after the scheduled delivery date, which according to UPS, is tomorrow.
Anthony has been a long-time Dell customer and has shared his positive experiences with friends and family, but that’s come to an end thanks to Dell’s abysmal customer service. It’s been one month since he first received his new Studio 15 Laptop, which worked correctly for 4 days. Since then, he’s been on the phone with Dell for a total of 14 hours, he’s watched a Dell CSR remotely break his laptop by interrupting the BIOS flash, he’s been locked out of the data on his hard drive, and there’s still no replacement laptop on the way to him. When he copied us on this email, he added, “All I wanted was the computer that I paid for long ago.”
Last month we reported on Charter Communications’ plan to start tracking its users internet activity in order to serve more targeted ads. Charter claimed customers could opt-out of the service, but a reader reviewed Charter’s opt-out method and discovered that even if you said no, you would still be tracked. Yesterday Charter announced it was abandoning the program and will not track its customers’ activities after all—at least for the immediate future.
So, Florida is apparently plagued by addicted prescription-poppers and not the pot-addled deviants targeted by our government’s so-called “War on Drugs.” A new report shows that prescription drugs killed three-times more Floridians than illegal drugs, and not because old people can’t follow doctor’s orders. Addictive prescriptions like Vicodin, OxyContin, Valium and Xanax killed more users than all illegal drugs combined.
We get that accidents happen. What we don’t get is why FedEx won’t tell this guy what happened to his laptop—why it went out for delivery, why it got returned back to the warehouse, why it was then reported damaged and undeliverable, and finally why the person he was sent to for help keeps stonewalling him by responding that his questions are irrelevant.
Pssst, wanna make an easy $20? Just give all your bank account and personal data over to ConsumerSay, a consumer opinion and behavior tracking firm owned by Lightspeed Research. Jen, who sometimes fills out surveys for freebies and cash, got an email from them offering her $20 for only 5 to 10 minutes of her time. Oh, and all of her financial transaction data.
Wesabe, the popular personal finance website, has unveiled a new mobile version that “lets you check your balances, see recent transactions, and… enter cash transactions, from any mobile browser.” To save time, you only need to enter the most basic information via your phone—you can add the details to the entry later from a standard web browser.
SmartMoney reviews four of the most popular, or at least best-publicized, online budgeting and finance-tracking services: Clear Checkbook, Mint, Wesabe, and Yodlee Money Center. They’ve created a simple chart comparing features, to help you decide which best meets your needs—for instance, whether you want text message alerts, or the ability to manually enter transactions, and so on. The most robust offering of the four is Clear Checkbook, although it’s missing a couple of nice features that the otherwise paltry Mint offers (specifically, text message alerts and merchant-based spending breakdowns).
Vincent ordered two scanners from CDW. One arrived, the other didn’t.
David ordered a 70 lb smoker from Amazon. For some reason, it shipped back and forth between Washington and Nevada 3 times, over 3 weeks, a total of 4500 miles. When it finally, arrived, it was in pieces.