Data Security as a Customer Satisfaction Tool

I received this letter the other day, followed up by two phone calls from the dealership confirming that I received it. This is the second such letter I have received in the last month, the other one coming from Chase Bank concerning a data tape (remember those things!) that had been discarded as trash when it was supposed to have been destroyed because it had customer account data on it.

I’m pissed at Autobahn Motors and when I voiced that displeasure and frustration to the woman from Autobahn who called me, she attempted to fall back on the “this is happening to a lot of businesses” excuse. While I commend her for having the appropriate level of contrition about this matter and assuming full responsibility, I did have to call bullshit on this excuse. Make no mistake about it, when a business exposes your personal data either through neglect or insufficient security measures it is because someone in not doing their job correctly.

The reason Autobahn experienced an electronic break-in is because they did not put the right level of emphasis on data security. I would bet that they have a pretty secure physical location, enough so that someone with intent would have a difficult time walking in and driving off with a new car, but that same level of security was not applied to the one asset that they didn’t own but were still responsible for safeguarding… my credit information. I resent the statement in the letter that they “take seriously keeping our customers’ personal information secure” when the very next sentence informs me that someone broke in and took it. Guess they don’t take it that seriously. BTW, I really wonder if they would have notified me were it not for the California law that requires them to…

If you run a business that deals with the personal data of your customers, you can bet that the next time we do business I will be asking you what your data security measures are and if I am not satisfied that you take this seriously I will not be doing business with you. As for Autobahn, it’s too late for me to take back the new car I bought, but if you are shopping for a new car you should be aware of this and ask the dealership you are working with about how they are going to safeguard your personal data.

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JPG Magazine: Brave New Photography

Om told me about JPG Magazine a while back and I just haven’t found the right theme to fit it in with so I’m writing about it standalone because I think it is so cool.

The idea is simple, if everyone were an editor vis-a-vie wisdom of crowds would the final product, in this case a magazine, be a better product? Having not seen the actual printed magazine I cannot answer that question, but the concept is certainly one that I find appealing.

Photosharing sites like Flickr and Zooomr (my favorite) have done a fantastic job of collecting user generated images and adding metadata such as tags and geodata, thereby giving the images context. There are additional aspect to these services that touch on community, indeed in my Zooomr site I have added contacts and can see when they post images.

I like JPG Magazine because it does the above but with a sense of purpose, the creation of a print magazine (published 6 times a year) where the user community is the editor. Over the last year I have witnessed several attempts by print media to get into the “user generated content” game, none with convincing success if for no other reason than it was less than convincing they really had conviction in this idea but probably more so because they came across as looking to get something for nothing. JPG Magazine seems to neatly avoid this pitfall but first and foremost being entirely conceived in user generated content so there is certainly no confusion about what they believe in, and secondly because if your photo is used they will pay you.

In looking over the terms of use I don’t think anyone would suggest that they are overly generous, but hey if you are a professional photographer I really don’t think this is targeted at you. The audience and community is built around the prosumer, someone who is an amateur by nature but equipped like and capable of generating professional level quality. Finally, what I really like about the terms and conditions is that you have the right to revoke your grant by simply removing your images from the site. Nice.

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