Digital River / Poor service; privacy violations
Digital River is an omnipresent "third part vendor" that processes online orders for many companies. Think "intermediary" or "middleman". (I call them a parasite. Outsourcing is rarely a good thing . . . and, in my humble opinion, the use of Digital River is outsourcing at its worst.) THREE EXPERIENCES:
(1) When I decided to purchase security software for the used PC that a generous friend bought for me, I sought Trend Micro (based upon its favorable Consumer Reports review). Well into the online ordering process (via TM's site), I learned that I was, in fact, dealing with this entity I'd never heard of before (DR). I had occasion to contact them with a product question. They were, IMHO, characteristically ignorant and untutored about the products they had been enlisted to sell. (Such ignorance and poor training is the rule, not the exception, both online and inside real buildings.)
DR staff also made incorrect (read "false") statements to me regarding sales tax -- insisting that my order would be assessed tax, when in fact it should not have been.
I decided to visit a Best Buy store instead . . . where I gladly paid more for the TM software, and gladly paid state and local sales tax, just to avoid having DR in my life.
(2) I ordered a fancy clock radio from Boston Acoustics, online. At the END of the multi-page ordering process, there's a tiny disclosure, on the bottom, that it's DR we're dealing with. (I didn't see it.) Worse, when one calls a toll-free customer service number provided by Boston Acoustics, one is in fact dealing with DR (even though the calls are answered, "Boston Acoustics" !) The online order form malfunctioned; I would have received two products, and been charged twice, if I hadn't been paying attention. Worse, the product -- packed and shipped by DR staff -- arrived in a plain, unmarked box (the Boston Acoustics box and product were inside), which bore NO "This Side Up" or "Fragile" markings whatsoever. The internal cushioning materials were also insufficient to protect the item adequately.
(3) I learned that DR -- unfortunately, like MANY companies today -- kept (and intends to keep) my credit card number stored in its database, indefinitely. . . this despite what I, an attorney, believe to be vague and inadequate disclosures that DR does so. (WHY does any company need to store such vulnerable info in its non-secure systems, especially if we are not, and don't intend to be, repeat customers?) Like all companies that do this, DR of course says its systems are "safe". However, we all know there's no such thing; in any event, the CHOICE of whether to trust any system to safely store our info -- from outside hackers, or inside thieves and info-peddlers -- should be OURS to make, not theirs.
I urge all readers to tread carefully in dealing with DR, and to avoid them if at all possible. (Consider telephone orders, or visiting a brick-'n-mortar retailer instead.) I also urge you to start pressuring your state and federal legislators to outlaw the practice of storing our sensitive info without our consent, and without clear and conspicuous notice. (FYI, Target does this. Best Buy does it. ABE Books does it. One prominent car rental company even takes your date of birth off your driver's license, and stores IT!)
Somewhere in the once-great USA
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