Thursday, December 23, 2004

NEW FRONTIERS IN DEVIOUSNESS Yet another reason not to give out your e-mail address indiscriminately:
Hotels.com is one of about 70 Internet heavyweights affiliated with Webloyalty, including travel service Priceline.com, movie-ticket vendor Fandango.com and shopping site Half.com.

And here's where consumers may want to sit up and take notice.

Webloyalty is able to obtain people's credit card numbers directly from many of its partners and will charge monthly fees for a service some people might not realize they've signed up for.

Once movie tickets are purchased at Fandango.com, for example, a link is presented to a special reward. That link leads to a page on Webloyalty's site promising $10 off your next Fandango purchase plus other discounts.

All you have to do is provide your e-mail address.


People subsequently discovered that the company was deducting between $7 and $9 a month from their credit cards even though they didn't think they'd signed up for the rewards plan.


The fine print of Webloyalty's verbiage-heavy solicitation says charges "will automatically continue for just $9 a month billed by Reservation Rewards to the credit card or deducted from the debit card information you used at CLIENT today."

In slightly less awkward words, submitting your e-mail address will result in Webloyalty obtaining your credit card number from Fandango or another client and beginning the monthly billing process.
According to the article, Webloyalty has 1.3 million members and books about $100 million a year in revenue.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.