Thursday, 6 March 2008

An Apology From TSTT

Background information:
TSTT is one of two major telecommunications providers for Trinidad and Tobago.
They offered a feature for their bMobile (cellular service) customers whereby pre-paid users could add credit to their phone's account via the web using credit card payments. The service, called ETopUp, was recently cancelled and an email sent to all registered users of the system indicating the service's cancellation.

I only used the service once, but because I knew the service would be carrying my credit card information I signed up for it using my main email address, one that's rarely known and thus rarely spammed.

I normally would be glad for such a proactive notification from TSTT, given not just my, but other people's problems and gripes with their services. Sadly, even in this small attempt to be more customer friendly, they managed to muck it up.

In sending the notification email, whatever person or program doing the mailing saw it fit to put my address, along with that of at least 50 other customers, into the CC: (rather than the Bcc:) field of the email.

I was so annoyed at this violation of my privacy that I fired off an email to the address that sent me the notification, indicating what had happened at my displeasure at now having opened up my private email address to many others, one of whom might be a potential spammer.

Today, about 48 hours later, I received this response from TSTT:
From: ETopup
Date: Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 2:40 PM
Subject: Apology From TSTT
To: ETopup
Dear Customer,
We refer to the email correspondence sent advising of the suspension of
the online self top up service. We note your displeasure with the
disclosure of your personal information in the email and acknowledge
that this action was inappropriate.

The disclosure of the email addresses was a regrettable human error for
which we sincerely apologize.

Please be assured that this action is not in accordance with TSTT’s
Privacy Policy. We take the matters of information security and privacy
very seriously and have taken the necessary steps to ensure that this
does not reoccur.

Thank you for your understanding and continued business with us.
Manager, Top Up
T&T's # 1 Mobile Network

Common courtesy would have one think that the "Manager Top Up, Etopup" would have a name, and would be nice enough to attach it to his "apologetic" email.
It makes me wonder if it wasn't a manager but some customer representative, especially given that the ETopup service is now defunct, so why have a manager for it?

An email from the person who was responsible for sending out the email in the first place, and their apologies for the mistake would have been so much more effective. I would now know that the person who made this mistake was now, at the very least, more aware of the "TSTT Privacy Policy" and thus more aware of how he handles sensitive customer data in future when having to publish mass notifications.

It was a nice gesture perhaps, but I would be happier with it if I actually thought TSTT management was ever planning to spend a little more time making their own staff aware of their own privacy policy, especially now I know they have one.

Cool tool: Google Calendar Sync

One problem I always had with Google Calendar was that Microsoft Outlook already had great calendaring features and some folks I worked with preferred it but it could not sync easily with Google Calendar and yet Microsoft Outlook could not be a powerful collaboration tool without Microsoft Exchange Server in the back end.
At a small company it's easy to get fresh, inexperienced folks to use one tool, but as a company grows there are going to be new team members with already honed and optimised habits that may or may not be tied heavily to tools like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook.
Hopefully this tool, Google Calendar Sync, will help with that issue.

Here's a link as well to Google Blog's own entry on it.

Let me know what you think of it.