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What Privacy?

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 23, 2005

I recently ordered a gift through Omaha Steaks. I routinely check boxes that specify that I don’t want to receive marketing emails or calls, but I don’t recall even getting a choice from Omaha Steaks. Even so, what they’re doing now is beyond the pale: calling me constantly at home with pitches even when I ask not to be called again. Once, I even got a call at work, though I must have had a brain cramp to have given them my work number.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this new report on privacy. The latest analysis by the Customer Respect Group said 72% of sites scored “poor” on policies for use of personal data for marketing.

Perhaps these firms think they get a benefit from this marketing that outweighs whatever fallout they might get from customers. All I know is, I won’t be ordering from Omaha Steaks again.

Reader Comments

Chris Hoofnagle

August 23, 2005 2:17 AM

Omaha Steaks is a big seller of personal information. Just check out this ad from a direct marketing site (login required). It appears that they have 2 million names, and the "hotline" (recent suckers who bought the steaks :) ) includes 145,000 names that are sold for $25/per thousand names (the M stands for mil, not million).


145,806 0 - 1 Month Buyers +$25/M
434,770 3 Month Buyers +$20/M
745,248 6 Month Buyers +$15/M
1,324,669 12 Month Buyers +$10/M
2,026,948 24 Month Buyers $105/M
CD/Tape/Video Club Offers $75/M
Fundraisers/Publishers $75/M
Counts Thru 06/23/2005

(Formerly: Omaha Steaks International)

Founded in 1917, Omaha Steaks manufactures,
markets and distributes a wide variety of
premium steaks, red meats, poultry, seafood
and other gourmet foods to consumers and
businesses. These products are custom cut and
packaged to serve the needs of various markets.

Let Omaha Steaks buyers show their great taste
over and over again.

John Doe

August 23, 2005 3:33 AM

I am constantly getting calls from Capital One under the pretext of "fraud alert." They call us - sometimes four or five times a week - to tell us that we have certain charges on our credit card (such as an internet purchase charged in another state) and they claim it triggers their fraud alert and that they MUST call us to verify the charge.

My spouse (a law enforcement officer who investigates fraud claims) asked these CapitalOne callers which part of the credit card charges indicated fraud. The CapitalOne employee makes up worthless excuses such as one internet charge for $19.95 from another state.

When my spouse notifies the CapitalOne employee of what it takes to trigger a fraud investigation, they become flustered and say they have the "right" to call us under the "pretext" of fraud.

Simply put, their "fraud" calls are nothing less than a solicitation call to have direct contact with their clients and to remind you of CapitalOne.

When we tell them not to call us any more, they call us the next day. Yes, we are going to cancel the card as soon as we cash in our next award points.

Someone needs to start a web site:



steve baker

August 23, 2005 1:29 PM

Rob, the numbers above would have us believe that Omaha Steaks is selling your name for only 2.5 cents! It can't be that cheap. Maybe by including your office phone they can get a dime.

Michael Dillon

August 27, 2005 3:58 PM

No you shouldn't be surprised about the report on privacy. Omaha Steaks privacy policy is a classic web of referrals to their marketing partners privacy policies but no mention of their names. You were scammed by the checkboxes, thinking you were opting out. But halfway down the privacy policy it states you need to call or mail them to opt out, otherwise they will mail and call you, and other companies will mail you as well. Once your name has been shared, even after (if) Omaha Steaks stops calling you, good luck removing your info from these affiliated marketing companies. Is it Omaha Steaks responsibility to have that info removed from the companies with which it's been shared or sold? Either way, it seems that not all opt out options were provided to you on checkout.

Bill Levinson

November 25, 2007 11:30 PM

Re: "But halfway down the privacy policy it states you need to call or mail them to opt out, otherwise they will mail and call you, and other companies will mail you as well."

Too bad for them. If they call a number on the Do Not Call list, and you didn't specifically opt in, it's $500 a pop. Same for the affiliates.

I have also reported Omaha Steaks to its Internet service provider for spamming, on more than one occasion. I have no idea of where they got my E-mail address. If someone gave it to them to make trouble for them or for me, that is not an excuse because confirmed opt-in has been around since 2000 if not before.

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