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Sears Installs Spyware

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the naughty-naughty dept.

Privacy 201

Gandalf_the_Beardy writes in with news that's been around a while but is getting more attention lately. Last month Benjamin Googins, a security researcher at CA, determined that Sears Holding Corp. installed ComScore spyware without adequate disclosure. Sears said, yes we tell people about tracking their browsing. On Jan. 1 spyware researcher Ben Edelman weighed in, noting that Sears' notice occurs on page 10 of a 54-page privacy statement, and twits Sears because its installation identifies the software as "VoiceFive" and later claims it's coming from a company called "TMRG, Inc." even though a packet sniffer confirms the software belongs to ComScore, adding "These confusing name-changes fit the trend among spyware vendors."

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201 comments

Sears is evil. (5, Informative)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896002)

My dad worked for Sears as an appliance repair tech for 25+ years. The stories he's told me about their tracking their employees, their customer "service" practices, sales approaches, etc... is just plain wrong. He was constantly intimidated by "the boss" to perform better or he would be fired (even though he was the top performing tech in the area). It was nothing but stress for him and I wish he had never worked for them.

Now he works for a small appliance/TV repair shop, and he absolutely loves it. Just another reason to flip the bird to big corporations - they don't care about people, they care about money. The spyware installation on their own customers' computer systems is just one small example.

Re:Sears is evil. (4, Informative)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896112)

I also worked a time for Sears. I can confirm the above. Their motivational technique was equal part bombast and intimidation. Not a fun company to work and play with.

Re:Sears is evil. (4, Interesting)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896600)

I worked for Sears for six days. I was in the electronics department, and didn't have a number so I couldn't ring up any sales myself.

Anyway, someone asked the manager for Sunday off, the manager said "sure, find someone to switch with you." The employee did one better and just switched his name on the board with someone else, without asking anyone.

So the person who has been switched realizes their now working six days in a row without being consulted, go to the manager, and the manager says "well so-and-so isn't working, so you need to find someone to cover." Somewhere I hear about this and mutter "isn't this the manager's job" and everyone just looks at me like I'm an idiot.

This snowballs. I show up, a trainee, during a heavily promoted sale, as the only "associate" (Can't I be a freakin' employee) working the electronics floor for four hours. I can't ring up sales. So I tell people the truth. I also tell them about other locations in the mall where they can find the product they're looking for. And you know what, about 30% came back to me later to buy the stuff when they knew I could ring up sales. One person even told the manager that I was the best employee he'd seen at that store and I bent over backwards to make him happy even if he didn't buy from me, and that if I wasn't there whenever he came in, he wouldn't buy from the store at all.

So now the manager was not happy with me because I made him and the other employees "look bad", to quote him.

I drove into work on that seventh day, and it was an absolute mad house. Big sale, horribly understocked (1 new computer, 3 floor models, about 25 people wanting them) and the manager starts telling me how he needs me on the floor.

So I look at the chaos that his scheduling and his lack of proper planning created, looked him in the eye, told him I quit, and walked out the door.

Shame I had to throw away that 3-cent commission on the big screen TV.

Re:Sears is evil. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896212)

Sweet! Another Slashdot post about flipping the bird to the man to warm the cockles of my heart...

Your dad may be a great guy but... mod the parent OT because it has nothing to do with the topic.

Sears installs spyware --> Sears being a dick
Sears being a dick -X-> Sears installing spyware

(Not If and Only if...)

Re:Sears is evil. (4, Insightful)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896784)

GP is not off-topic. The treatment a company gives its employees and the treatment a company gives its customers are often one and the same. After all, the employees are just an indirect revenue stream (by helping to separate the customer from his money). As far as the big mega-corp is concerned, money is king, and it will do whatever is necessary to milk their customers (and employees) for every cent of profit it can get. Things like good customer service only cut into that profit (in the mega-corp's mind), and the mega-corp would rather take the small chance that spyware would bring them more money than to have good customer service because the spyware costs less.

Of course, the obvious way to avoid problems like these is to not sign up for such things in the first place. How many people receive an actual benefit by signing up for this kind of service?? I'd bet the number is somewhere between zero and two.

Re:Sears is evil. (3, Informative)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896318)

I once worked for Sears Canada in their Regina call center. Your dad was not exaggerating.

Sears WILL Be SOLD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896322)


to China. Just another part of the economic collapse of The United Gulags of America [whitehouse.org] .

I hope this helps your financial planner.

Cheers,
K. Trout, C.F.A.

Re:Sears is evil. (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896960)

Wow. Your post has spawned replies with very liberal use of fear quotes. But seriously, "I agree".

Re:Sears is evil. (2, Interesting)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897098)

I bought a vacuum from Sears. The thing is, they tend to be the exclusive seller of good to great products, as verified in Consumer Reports.

Will they push the extended warranty on you at the point of sale? Of course. So does just about everyone in a decently sized store.

If they didn't care about people as much as most Slashdotters think most corporations don't care about people, they wouldn't bother with the quality products. Of course, this doesn't absolve spying on their customers (time to turn of Javascript for them, eh? Thanks NoScript!).

Re:Sears is evil. (4, Insightful)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897616)

I worked for Sears (retail) for about 4 years. I never experienced any of the issues related here, which just goes to show you that there are always both sides of the story.

In fact, the Sears I worked at (in Houston) went out of their way to accommodate us (most of us high school or college students at the time). The supervisors were, for the most part, reasonable to work with, and nobody put undue demands on us to perform. I wasn't commissioned sales, but I probably knew everybody in the store, and I don't recall anybody relating horror stories like those mentioned already.

I'm not saying the stories related here didn't happen...but let's be fair: Mod up four or five "negative" stories without counterbalance?

Oh, wait, this is /. What am I thinking...

Re:Sears is evil. (2, Insightful)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897770)

Glad to see your response. You're right, there are always two sides to a story, and your post proves it.

Just so happens that you're the only one who's counter-balanced so far. That would lead me to believe that there are many more negative stories about Sears than not...until other people decide to speak up, of course.

Re:Sears is evil. (2, Insightful)

phantomlord (38815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21898360)

Back when I was a teenager, I went through management training for a chain restaurant with an Irish name.

One of the first things we learned is (a series of studies they did said) people are 10x more likely to be vocal about a negative experience than a positive one. I would imagine that's just as true on the employee perspective as it is the customer's side. People usually don't talk about how their boss pretty much met their expectations, just like they don't go around bragging that the toaster they got from Target seems ok. Once in a while, you'll hear about some great manager somewhere, but it's almost always in response to someone (or a bunch of people) talking about how much their management sucks

So, just because he's the only one with a positive story about working there doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of other people who had good experiences. It just means that people who had bad experiences are more likely to vocalize them.

Re:Sears is evil. (1)

Ardee (1211878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897968)

Back in the days of paper checks, clerks at Sears used to stamp "COINS" on the back of the check before accepting it. They then circled the "appropriate" letter: C for Caucasian, O for Oriental, I for Indian, N for Negro or S for Spanish. Yikes! Clearly, no choice of PC for politically correct!

Re:Sears is evil. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21897992)

My mom did the opposite, my parents owned their own electronics repair shop, my dad died and my mom took it over by herself for about 15 years. She got sick of it and has been working at a Sears repair facility for the past 9 years. I hear all kinds of stories and instead of repeating them in detail I'll tell you that I came but the assumption all middle and low level managers at large national companies are untrained, do not know how to manage, do not think for themselves, and just yes men and woman towing the company line. I truly believe that the only requirement to be one of these managers is to say "yes" and "sounds great" all of the time at the manager meetings where they all pat each other on the back. Really.

Okay, I will go into some stories. This Sears facility is for units under warranty or extended contracts. Sears started taking special note of units repaired by each technician. Basically, the person that completed the most repairs and got the units out the door was the star technician. Nothing else was considered like failure rates, followup returns etc. So if you had a vacuum that had a bad belt and the beater bar was half cracked, he would just replace the belt. Not caring that the beater bar would not last another week and the unit would be back. Of course he would bust out some high repair numbers and somehow Sears considered this the primary goal. These are regional repair facilities so the units are shipped great distances and accounted for the whole way so I know a $4 beater bar is cheaper than a return trip for that vacuum and the potential loss of trust for the customer. Another interesting note was the mower shop was not authorized to have any gas and oil in the shop so although the techs would repair the motors and mowers, they had absolutely NO WAY to test them, they are sent back to the customer untested. Coming from owning her own business my mom did not understand this. I told her to forget trying to be and do what you think is right, do what Sears wants you do to or what ever metric they gauge you by this week and you will be fine. Kind of like the boss that only cares about watching the morning clock to make sure you get there on time. The person who gets there on time but does nothing but hang in the break room until lunch is better off then the person who gets to work 5 minutes late and busts their ass until lunch.

welcome to slashdong! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896008)

suck it long and suck it hard.

What is Sears Looking For? (5, Interesting)

JohnAllison (838880) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896018)

Granted, I fall into the crowd of Spy Ware is evil, but I really want to know what Sears's plan was for the data they were monitoring.


I would love to meet the decision maker that believes this is morally permissive act that can be "contracted" through an EULA.

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (4, Interesting)

viking099 (70446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896262)

Sears and Kmart are suffering heavily from their competitors like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowes. They need to find new revenue streams, and this is probably some marketing tech-savvy manager's way of doing that.

They link up with a spyware company, get people to sign up for a community or whatever, then rake in the user data that is generated from their browsing. There may or may not be any specific danger to an individual user, and most of the gathered data is probably used in an aggregate sense, but the problem lies in the fact that no one knows what's there, how it's gathered, coded, or stored, and how secure it is.

I wonder if a SHC Community member has their identity stolen because of weak software programming on the spyware company if that company can be held liable, or if there's a clause in there that absolves them of any real responsibility regarding the security of the data being collected.

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (4, Informative)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897374)

IDK about identity theft, but you should read the comment that "heather" left on the CA blog [ca.com] about "managemyhome.com," another Sears web site. Apparently all you need is a name, address, and phone number and you can log on as that person and view purchase history from Sears for, what I would surmise, is the big ticket items like refrigideezers and washers.

Now that's almost criminal.

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896304)

I would love to meet the decision maker that believes this is morally permissive act that can be "contracted" through an EULA.

Surely, you're kidding right?

Large companies operate on what is legally permissible. If current case law says you can legally put any bullshit into an EULA and have it be valid, that's the bar.

They don't give a flying crap about morally OK -- it's irrelevant.

Companies are impersonal entities, managed by people with a profit motive to maximize their bonuses by doing what they can do to maximize shareholder value in the short term. Morality doesn't apply if the lawyers tell them it was legal.

Cheers

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (1)

raving griff (1157645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896694)

But, if you look back at previous lawsuits that users have filed against big corporations with crazy EULA's, the court system often rules against the business, under the basis that the business is violating human rights.

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21897818)

courts rule on codified laws, not touchy-freely emotions about what is allegedly a right

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (1)

JohnAllison (838880) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896814)

Not really kidding.

I'm aware of how companies exist in the legal context, but I am also aware that individuals have to write the EULAs, and come up with the idea to install software to monitor their customers. So I was addressing the moral decisions of the decision maker, the person, not the legal entity that is the company. With that distinction in mind I still stand by my remark. I want to meet the decision maker that felt it was OK to create a contract where by the other party allows for this tracking software to exist, and to do so by burying this little gem in the middle of the EULA. Would his reaction to my question of, "Why?" be one of indifference (probably) or defensive (I can do what I want behind my corporate veil.)

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897352)

I'm aware of how companies exist in the legal context, but I am also aware that individuals have to write the EULAs, and come up with the idea to install software to monitor their customers. So I was addressing the moral decisions of the decision maker, the person, not the legal entity that is the company.

But, since an EULA is essentially a contract, it'll be written by lawyers. While there are probably some perfectly decent lawyers, the ones writing contracts and EULAs don't seem to be included in them.

I suspect someone made a business case to someone, who consulted with a lawyer, and then the lawyer drafted up what they had agreed upon. It's entirely conceivable that the person who OK'd it didn't understand the tech behind what he was doing, or didn't care. The lawyer just did it in good faith and within his understanding of the law. Again, I think morality would have been left out of the loop.

In the end, once the 3rd party company is involved, they've already got permission from the company you agreed with, and they don't need to give a damn what might be legal or ethical -- they got a free pass, because you agreed to it.

I'm not saying you don't make some good points. I'm just far too cynical about companies and lawyers to really think anyone did any soul searching over this. :-P

Cheers

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (5, Informative)

radish (98371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897544)

That's actually not universally true. I've sat in a lot of meetings with very senior, very well paid people (and their associated lawyers) and have heard them literally say "we wouldn't be breaking the law, but it wouldn't look good in the press". Many companies value their image and reputation extremely highly and doing something which leads to the company being embarassed, even if it's 100% legal, would be a firing offence.

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897876)

That's actually not universally true. I've sat in a lot of meetings with very senior, very well paid people (and their associated lawyers) and have heard them literally say "we wouldn't be breaking the law, but it wouldn't look good in the press".

I'm glad to hear there are some left. I just fear they're in the minority, and dwindling.

Of course, that is something I'd love to be wrong about. :-P

Cheers

Re:What is Sears Looking For? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896368)

My guess is that morality never crossed their mind. The thinking probably went something like this:

Spyware company: "We'll pay you $5 per machine to install this software on all the computers you sell."

Sears exec: "Oh, like AOL or Symantec do. Are you legit? Is this legal?"

Spyware company: "Yep look we're a big company, and you just need to disclose its presence somewhere in your EULA. Here's some example text to include."

Sears exec: "Done deal."

Screwed Up (2, Insightful)

coop247 (974899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896030)

In my opinion this is worse than the "communities" some e-com sites have you join that secretly charge your card $2 a month, at least that you see on your CC statement. Also, does it put anything visible in your Programs folder or does this program show up in Add/Remove Programs?

Re:Screwed Up (3, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896116)

In my opinion this is worse than the "communities" some e-com sites have you join that secretly charge your card $2 a month, at least that you see on your CC statement.

Those "communities", my friend, are called "porn websites"

Re:Screwed Up (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896558)

In my opinion this is worse than the "communities" some e-com sites have you join that secretly charge your card $2 a month, at least that you see on your CC statement.

Those "communities", my friend, are called "porn websites"


Dude! Where are you getting pr0n for $2 a month? Sign me up!

Re:Screwed Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896888)

When you get a bargain on porn, you end up wanking to ... bargain porn.

(LMAO. capthca = "erector")

I'm an ex employee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896040)

I worked for Sears years ago, and this does not surprise me one bit. They are an evil company that will stop at nothing to make a buck. Oh, and do you want me to put that on your Sears card?

This is Sear's Privacy Statement (3, Funny)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896042)

Not only will we track where you browse on our website which has legitimate marketing value for us; we will also break into your computer without your knowledge and track every other website you visit. You are not safe within your own home.... muahahahah.... I mean we do this to PROTECT your privacy. We will not give out this information unless we get your consent or we get a good enough offer for the data. Anything over one cent per one thousand records consitutes a good offer. We do not disclose offers for data purchase so pretty much you have to assume we are giving your browsing habit data away. We also do this to PROTECT your privacy. Thank you for choosing Sears.

Re:This is Sear's Privacy Statement (5, Funny)

tyraen (791990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896376)

That was too long for me to read so I just clicked past it.

Cue Sony Parallels (3, Insightful)

WizMaster (974384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896124)

What does SEARS need with this info? Honestly, this just smells bad. I won't call them evil just yet but this is pretty serious from a privacy POV.

Also, isn't it about time we push for a law that makes these privacy agreements shorter and in english (not legalese). One thing I like about CC is that they have a layman's terms version of all their licenses as well as the legalese ones. Not only would people be more likely to read them but it makes it hard for companies to bury important info several pages deep.

I realize that the layman's version would be long as heck but it's better then nothing (and people would STILL be more likely to read it since they can understand it without thinking to hard).

Plain English (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896296)

What we need is Plain English legislation, generally. If a law, contract, or other legal document cannot be understood by a person of average intelligence and reasonable education, it is null and void.

Yeah, I know the lawyers would hate it. Tough.

...laura

Re:Plain English (3, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896426)

the problem with that is that plain simple language is also immensely inprecise.

Re:Plain English (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896666)

Indeed. If only we could rely on common sense. Unfortunately, it appears not to exist anymore.

Re:Plain English (0, Redundant)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897868)

Common sense is anything but, and is also subjective. For some people, including the father of our current president (And probably our current president) it's only "Common sense" that I don't have any rights as an American because I'm an atheist.

Re:Plain English (1)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897838)

There is an organisation in the UK called the Crystal Mark that provides plain easy to understand English on places where it matters, like contracts, bills, Govt documents etc. http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/ [plainenglish.co.uk] No idea if there is something similar in the US but I think it's a cracking good idea and it's used as a selling point by services and companies in the UK.

Re:Cue Sony Parallels (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896526)

The problem is there is no law even requiring a privacy policy that I know of. Companies can put whatever they want there. The reason CC companies are regilated with tier disclosures is because money is changing hands. Here it is just information that Sears is taking from you. Hmmm, maybe we can sue them under the DMCA?

Throughout the Universe (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897146)

But does the legalese really apply reasonable to those user licensing agreements that say that the site owns your content "throughout the universe". Does the copyright registration apply at the time a signal from earth could arrive at (say) the Small Magellanic Cloud? Or do they (as lawyers) think it applies from "now"? Talk about copyright for a "limited time"!

Not only confusing legaleze, but physics.

Part of a general trend: consumer as commodity (5, Interesting)

tbg58 (942837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896182)

This is a fairly obvious example of what has happened to the concept of "the customer" in the retail space. The old principle of serving the customer still applies, but the identification of the customer has changed. The customers of K-Mart Sears are no longer the people buying products in stores and use the Sears website; the new customer is the stockholder. The people who buy products and use the website are just commodities to be traded like anything else.

Installing spyware on website users? Why not, if the website users are just inventory to be controlled and traded.

This is true not only in retail, but in IT. Do you think the people who actually buy, say, operating systems, are the customers of the software companies that make them? Think again. Their customers are their stockholders too. The purchaser is just a commodity. Maybe companies which commoditize consumers need a wake-up call to remind them that consumers are still the real customers. A PR mess like this sends a bit of a reminder, but the only message that really hits home is one that impacts the EPS.

Re:Part of a general trend: consumer as commodity (4, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896240)

The customers of K-Mart Sears are no longer the people buying products in stores and use the Sears website; the new customer is the stockholder.

This is true of any publicly traded company. How or what that company does to produce max profits for its shareholders is a different matter...

Re:Part of a general trend: consumer as commodity (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896382)

I'd like to see how Sears will produce profits if everyone quits buying their products. As President Truman said, "The buck stops here". Different "buck", but you get the idea.

Re:Part of a general trend: consumer as commodity (3, Insightful)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897494)

You're like...completely right (in my opinion).

To expand on the economic side a bit, the stock holders own shares of publicly traded companies because they believe those companies will earn profit and grow in the future. Investment is a beautiful but risky thing. A company that no longer maintains the ability to expand and sell more widgets/services will not realize the growth needed to bring a return on the investments. That means a company like Sears always needs to expand and sell more and more stuff in order to compensate for the "interest" that must be paid out to the investors. Basically, investors will pull out if a company can't realize a certain growth in share value, so the company must grow. Hence, it is reasonable for the company to try and push spyware on to products they sell, because it opens them up to a new customer base--advertising companies willing to pay to gain access to marketing information people's computers. Companies who's cash is 'borrowed' from investors will always face this problem. They can't afford not to grow.

Do I lay blame to these "evil" companies for trying to screw over the consumer? Some of it is their fault, but I tend to also (read: not entirely) lay blame the consumer for making spam, spyware, rootkits, etc. profitable. Just as companies have an ethical code we more or less hold them to, consumers also must take responsibility and understand that their choices also effect change in the marketplace.

I really like supporting companies like Google and Whole Foods whose management teams profess to see value in giving back to the community. I also respect individuals who understand that the only way large, evil companies can seem to rule the world is if the majority of a society tolerate them. And if the majority of the society is not willing to tolerate these companies, then they won't buy the crapware filled computers, and no laws are needed. If the majority of the society is willing to tolerate these companies, than "Democracy" has failed.

Basically, I find that a society that needs huge amounts of laws above and beyond basic things like anti-trust in order to keep corporations in check will end up having a bunch of citizens who can't make responsible decisions for themselves. That means that such a society cannot support a democracy. Scary thought to me.

Re:Part of a general trend: consumer as commodity (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21898124)

wow. At the risk of being redundant, off-topic and overrated, I should say that I have never seen more insightful comment on modern economy at /.

Good job.

I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (3, Funny)

Zordak (123132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896244)

Wow! I'm so FLAMING HOT MAD about this, that I would boycott Sears if not for the fact that I never shop there anyway. Are you with me people?! MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD! Punish Sears by refusing to purchase from them the things you already don't purchase from them!

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (2, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896342)

If you're buying screwdrivers and wrenches and pliers anywhere else, then you're going to the wrong place. You can take a 25 year-old pair of (Craftsman) pliers back to Sears and go "I broke it" and they'll give you a new one.

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896506)

Sometime morality has a price. I'd rather voluntarily pay for it again than involuntarily give up personal info. Call it the price of privacy.

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896744)

I got a Sears giftcard for Christmas. As much as I deplore them, I still want to use my giftcard. What am I supposed to use it on? Blackjack and hookers?

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896994)

Ah yes, Gift Cards. The gift thats cash but is somehow better than giving cash, and its not only cash but cash that can only be spent in one location, expires, and is easier to lose!

Marvelous inventions.

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

Spleen (9387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897096)

I agree with the grandparent. The tools from sears are much too valuable to me to boycott the company as a whole. You can opt to not join the community online that contains the spyware, you can educate users and complain to the company without boycotting all products and services. I have yet to see a product boycott ever truly work. The bad press generated by awareness or suggestion of a boycott often makes companies back off.

Punishing a merchant by boycotting even the methods of business that they do right as well as the wrong ones does not send the right message. Walking into the store, picking up a wrench, and paying cash for it does not have more of a privacy cost then any other merchant. If you pay by credit or check, you're spinning the same wheel at sears as you do at any other stores. How is Sears to know that the message is we don't want your spyware? Refusing to walk into a retail store isn't sending that message, declining their EULA does.

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897720)

too valuable to me to boycott the company as a whole.

if spyware is your only complaint, I agree. Agreed, you will never get sears to change through a boycott. I was a craftsman tool junkie, probably spent a average of $500 a month their, I quit cold turkey 3 years ago, and haven't missed them. Craftsman tools are available from Kmart,Lands' End, The Great Indoors, Orchard Supply Hardware, etc. And they honor the warranty just the same.
No matter how you deal with a skunk, your eventually going to pickup the stink. By not going to sears for anything, you make sure their are competitors, and they stay, not the skunk.
I got fed up with all their practices, 1) they keep dropping warranties from more and more of their tools, don't trust that friendly return to stay, and dropping lines tools with no replacement available = no warranty. 2) the ripped me off with their credit card, and didn't care. 3) they repeatedly ripped off my girlfriend in the tire shop (her response was "well you go their too") 4) they 2* sent her out knowingly with missing lug nuts, and no warning, and a "prove it" responses.

Harbor freight is my new tool junkie location, some of their stuff is crap, but most Pittsburgh tools also have lifetime warranties. And if you play the on-sell game, it is easily 1/3 the cost of sears. so buy 3 and throw away whatever breaks.

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897996)

Craftsman tools are available from..

wow, didn't realize their owned by Sears, well Fastenal and the on base stores (AAFES) also sell exchange craftsman, and aren't own3d.
Stanley tools, and Pittsburgh have been a adequate replacement for me (I live and work out of town, so mail order replacement of Stanley tools generally works better for me anyway.)

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896570)

What if you go in and say "I lost it"?

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897006)

They will say that you better go look for it.
It is a warranty not insurance.
Craftsmen hand tools are top of the line and they stand behind them. You don't need any ID or proof of purchase. Just bring in a broken craftsman tool and they will replace it.

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897332)

Except drill bits (and other items which may be expected to break due to normal wear and tear).

They wouldn't replace the broken 1/8 bit from my Craftsman SpeedLok set/

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896622)

Craftsman and Kenmore are pretty good brands. I think that was the only reason I ever *used* to shop there... but not any more after this fiasco. Looks like it's going to be Snap-on, Makita, and Whirlpool for me from now on.

Re:I Didn't Know Anybody Still Shopped at Sears (1)

crackspackle (759472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897990)

I know you're comment is meant to be funny and that Sears is often seem as a lower-tier store; However if you research their exclusive brands like Kenmore and Craftsmen and the products they offer, you'd find they are consistently rated among the best performers in their class by independent organizations like Consumer Reports. On the average, they are also cheaper than their counterparts and they are also only available at Sears.

As an example, I spent close to $800 on a Dyson Vacuum cleaner to remove dog hair left by my Labradors. It did not work. After reading some articles, I sold it and went with a $300 Kenmore that did work, phenomenally better than the former product. I am not trying to be a Sears advertisement and I don't like what they are doing here but it's worth pointing out you can't just shop elsewhere and get the same thing.

Surprised that Sears is still in business? (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896260)



They've been slowly going out of business for years as their clueless
management phases out of retail products and services and whiles away
its days with speculative [thestreet.com]
investments. Now, maybe they're going into the spyware
or pop-up advertising business to cash in on the dot com
boom. Sears is the poster boy for the pointy-hair boss in
Dilbert.

Re:Surprised that Sears is still in business? (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896418)

Not only does the article you posted sound like a positive thing for Sears, It's 11 months old! I highly doubt it reflects current market conditions. I'm not really sure if Sears is going out of business - always seemed like they did alright with their hardware sections - but if you're going to make claims, please have sources that are accurate.

Re:Surprised that Sears is still in business? (1)

el_smurfo (1211822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896586)

You can see how good Cramer's advice is by clicking the link to Sears Holdings current valuation at the top of the article. 11 months ago, he was pimping Sears at 237...Today, it's 103.50 and dropping like a rock.

Re:Surprised that Sears is still in business? (4, Funny)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896468)

If Sears goes out of business do my Craftsman tools still have a lifetime warranty? Who will honor that warranty?

I'll be goddamned if I'm going to buy TWO hammers during this lifetime.

Re:Surprised that Sears is still in business? (1)

krazytekn0 (1069802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21898242)

Go buy Snap-On tools, not only will they have a lifetime warranty but you'll be paying for them for the rest of your lifetime also!

Re:Surprised that Sears is still in business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21897832)

agree with above, it just reminded me of the promotion they pushed years ago.
The promotion about no more sales. That tactic bombed.

Sears is struggling that is apparent.

I for one have not shopped their for years mostly due to their
pushing of service contracts to the point of being obscene.

New FTC rules should state . . . (3, Funny)

DodgeRules (854165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896266)

... that all company officers and directors MUST have installed on every work and home computer the same software that they are installing on everyone else's computers. I'll bet money that none of them have installed this onto their own computers.

Tell StopBadware.org (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896306)

StopBadware [stopbadware.org] should hear about this. It's exactly the sort of thing that gets a company a big red X on the StopBadware site. Plus some really bad publicity.

StopBadware is sponsored by Harvard Law School, Oxford University, and Consumers' Union. There's heavy legal firepower available if needed.

Really just another reason... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896320)

...to promote full disclosure, and support those who spot these abuses and expose them.

When the corporations decide that getting caught doing dumb/unethical/improper stuff costs them more than whatever the stuff was going to get them, then this will stop.

Until then, one more corporation to put on my do-not-shop list. For a very long time...

Now we know that and ... nothing will change. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896474)

We know about that now! And we'll boycott Sears into bankrupcy!

Well, we won't shop there anymore, maybe. But bankrupcy? Hardly. How many people know about that? A hundreth of a percent? Maybe? How many care about it? Even less?

"So Sears tracks my online surfing? So what? I got nothing to hide, and their stuff is so CHEAP!"

That's what you'll hear as the reply of Joe Average. People have not discovered yet that their privacy actually does have some value. Unfortunately, corporations have. Not only a value, they also tacked a price tag to it, too.

Maybe we can play on people's greed and envy. "THEY are making money of something you give them for free! Shouldn't you get something for it, too?" Maybe that's the angle how we can sell privacy...

Holy crap, I sound like a marketing guy. Please shoot me.

Boxer shorts. K-Mart! (0, Offtopic)

snarfies (115214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896498)

Dr. Bruner: Do you feel more relaxed in your favorite K-mart clothes?
Charlie Babbitt: Tell him, Ray.
Raymond Babbitt: K-mart sucks.
Dr. Bruner: I see.

Nobody checked his resume? (3, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896686)

There's a telling fact in the "2nd Response to Rob Harles, VP of Sears' SHC Community [ca.com] "

Finally, while we can't draw any conclusions from this, an old comScore press release [comscore.com] shows that before becoming VP in charge of Sears' tracking program, Rob [Harles] was the senior vice president for comScore - the creator of the Sears spyware and the registrants of the domains to which the Sears spyware data is sent.

CA's Benjamin Googins is being diplomatic, of course. If the guy in charge of the "community" was previously a senior VP at the spyware company, then he clearly has a vested interest in the continued success of comScore.

If this were happening in a government agency, there would rightly be cries of conflict of interest. So much for the "perfection" of the free market over the ebil gubbermint...

FWIW, I haven't stepped foot in a Sears in about 5 years, when I needed a spark plug socket, and I can't recall my last purchase before that. And I've rarely been in a K-Mart since they closed most of their Texas stores -- the ones in other states still suck just as hard as they did before the buyout, but it's hard to compare one strong vacuum against another.

Re:Nobody checked his resume? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897062)

So much for the "perfection" of the free market over the ebil gubbermint...
No, no, no. See, this is because we don't have enough free market, and too much ebil gubbermint. If we just got rid of all gubbermint except that what keeps y'all off my propah-tie, then the Divine Invisible Hand of Adam Smith would descend out of the clouds and put all to rights. Everyone who claims the Hand would just touch us in a bad place are pawns of the Great Satan, Karl Marx!

Seriously, there are people right here on Slashdot who think that way. You can spot them easily because they all get serious wood when you say the name "Ron Paul."

Re:Nobody checked his resume? (1)

dmleach (917181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897788)

If this were happening in a government agency, there would rightly be cries of conflict of interest. So much for the "perfection" of the free market over the ebil gubbermint...

Yep, there would be cries of conflict of interest. There would be committee meetings, inquiries, perhaps a grand jury or two. There would be years of investigation by a special prosecutor. The talk shows would have fodder for weeks. Then, in the end, some low-level deputy would be reprimanded. All this done at a taxpayer-funded cost of thousands.

On the other hand, you personally can stop shopping at Sears. You can teach your friends what's going on and advise them to stop shopping at Sears. It may not destroy the company, but neither will slapping the wrist of the underling in the above example. With hard work and some luck, you could lead a charge that punishes the people who deserve punishment.

On the other other hand, you could decide that internet abuse isn't worth the trouble, and keep this in mind next time you're looking to buy a drill or a refrigerator. If that's the case, I thank you on behalf of all us other taxpayers whose money you saved.

That's the perfection of the free market.

Virus signature ID: Sears.ComScore (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896722)

I would ask that all antivirus/anti-malware companies use Sears.ComScore to ID this virus (oops, I mean "service"). Sears will have free advertising in all anti-malware apps just like Sony.Rootkit does!

Then again, Sears' lawyers may request to have it changed to Sears®.ComScore.

Buried (1)

davidc (91400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896754)

Page 10 of a 54 page document? Sears must be Douglas Adams fans!

This reminds me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where it was pointed out that the public plans for the hyperspace bypass were to be found in the bottom drawer of a locked filing cabinet, stuck upside-down, in a disused toilet with a sign on the door saying 'BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD!'

Re:Buried (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897394)

Please turn in your geek card now.

Those weren't the plans for the hyperspace bypass, they were the plans for the bypass being built in England by the local board, of which Mr. Prosser was the representative.

The plans for the Hyperspace bypass were on display at Alpha Centuri.

Reminds me of Radio Shack (1)

markgohara (1210640) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896844)

Kind of reminds me of Radio Shack when they required you to give info to make a purchase in other words it sucked.

Nothing new (1)

millermj (762822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897572)

I kind of see it both ways. Everyone expects a company to understand its customers, and to keep up with customer trends. Even when those trends include "people are pirating music because they don't want to pay for it" or "people in Singapore are pirating software because the licensing is too expensive." ...yet no one wants their purchasing behaviors tracked, employee activities mined, etc. Employers want the freedom to be creative with the information retrieved so that they can more easily change with the market, employees and customers want any information they provide to be at least anonymous and preferably full disclosure on how the information is used.

Since I'm developing product requirements, that kind of information si very useful to me. A market research company gathers it and my department buys the research so that we can develop better products. Most of the information gathered is from people who have volunteered to share how the product is used. Try getting a software pirate to do that! So how do you gather data that's truly unbiased? I'm not a hypocrite... you'll find a lot of information about me online; yet I share the same concerns about identity theft as everyone else. Just what piece of personal information can be used to identify me vs. an imposter if everything the imposter needs can be learned from a spock.com, MySpace, or facebook profile?

Sears' spyware idea is extreme by any measure. There are less intrusive ways of gathering data about potential business opportunities. Referring URL tags, for example. Gathering data from the outside about who visited from a sears domain address as another. ...but just where do you draw the line?

Re:Nothing new (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897914)

With radio Shack, when I made a purchase I could choose not to give them information, and I could still make my purchase.

so many levels of dumbness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21897126)

Why did Sears even set up their own online fanboy forum? And who would even join a circle jerk forum for a department store?

Get Anybody's Purchase History (1)

duerra (684053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897192)

Wow. From one of the comments in reply of TFA:

OMG! Check out a sears site managemyhome.com. Once you register you can look up purchase information for ANYONE by just putting in their name address and phone number. Sears has you enter a code and says that keeps you info safe, but that is pretty useless -- I think that just prevents a script from being created, but DOES NOT stop people from entering in any eles info to get the purchase info on big ticket items -- this could bring casing someone's house to a whole new level!!
What's that smell in the air? Oh yeah, a class action lawsuit.

Linux installer? (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897358)

Say, where's the Linux installer? What? You mean this is only for windows users? Sweet!

commercially viable efforts? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897376)

From TFA: 'we make commercially viable efforts to automatically filter confidential personally identifiable information such as UserID, password, credit card numbers, and account numbers'

Let me fix that: "we do as little as possible..."

What are you people thinking? (0, Flamebait)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897724)

From TFA:

Every website visitor that joins the Sears community installs software that acts as a proxy to every web transaction made on the compromised computer.

Wait a second...this so-called "privacy breach" requires a user to sign up, give away personal information, and download and install software?

Oh, the horror!

Give...me...a...freaking...BREAK! Whining and bitching because someone is too lazy to read a 54-page privacy document? Intimidated by such a beast? Then DON'T INSTALL THE SOFTWARE!

If there ever was a story that needed to be tagged "nothing to see here, move along," this is it. When will the public wake up and figure out that they expose themselves to nefarious evil-whoring overloads whenever they download and install unknown software from the Internet?

Re:What are you people thinking? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897836)

a 54-page privacy document is unreasonable. To say 'don't install the software' isn't practical.

Sears is a trusted brand. They are using the trust to abuse consumers.

Things to know about Sears (2, Informative)

wytcld (179112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897748)

First off, Sears isn't Sears anymore. Sears was bought by Kmart after Kmart was bought by what became Sears Holdings [seekingalpha.com] , which is controlled by hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert [investopedia.com] , who apparently is incompetent:

In the period ended November 3, the company earned a sickening $2 million (1 cent per share). That's far below the $196 million ($1.27 per share) it earned in the same period last year. It's also 49 cents below what analysts had been expecting.
That's right, under his management profits went down over 99%. I've been to his stores, and the merchandising is awful. There's certain stuff I'd rather buy from Sears and/or Kmart than Wal-Mart, Home Depot or whoever, but the stocking and selection is so haphazard now that, except for the Sears appliances, the only thing you can count on finding is bizarre junk on sale.

And now with this story, maybe it's time to stop even trying. (I had a minor loyalty to Kmart because I'm originally from their part of the country; and to Sears because the Craftsman guarantee policy is good.)

WTF ??!! (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21898140)

What the hell is Sears thinking? Didn't they learning anything from Sony's rootkit fiasco? This is a complete outrage. Look at the type of people who normally shop at sears. It's demographic is older women who I would guess are not normally tech-savvy or aware of online security issues. This stinks like rotten fish and I hope the word gets out. Bad Sears, BAD!

Forfeit the corporation (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21898168)

I'll vote for the first presidential candidate who specifically cites this as behavior that should result in dissolution of Sears Holdings - the loss of its status as a corporate "person" and the sale of its assets to fund future government enforcement against such blatant abuses of basic American and human rights by other corporations. Perhaps current laws won't allow justice in this case, but it wouldn't take long to change that. This is behavior that clearly calls for (1) jail time for the top executives - 10 year minimum, and (2) the end-of-life of the corporation committing the atrocity.

Re:Forfeit the corporation (1)

taustin (171655) | more than 6 years ago | (#21898250)

Yeah, and the 300,000+ employees should all be jailed, too, because "I was just following orders" isn't an excuse.

Or maybe you're a knee-jerk reactionary. Or maybe just a moron.
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