Dell Takes Care of your Private Address

First published: 03rd November 2011

I've got a laptop with a problem, so I called Dell's Customer Service Hotline in Hong Kong for a quote. They asked for my name, email address, phone number, fax number and address. I said my address was not necessary when I was going to decide whether to have the machine repaired after receiving the quote.

The quote arrived, and under my name was an address:

RM 1306,13/F,

I guess that the Hotline's CRM requires an address, so they just used another customer's, perhaps the previous caller, to fill in. A quick search revealed that this is the address of UCN Jordan Health Centre. So, I replied to their email, and also copied to their Privacy Officer:

subject Dell Quote 85118293 Customer: 761210445 - ALLAN DYER

Dear Janet Zheng of Dell

Thank you for your quotation, however, you should note that my address is NOT the same as the "UCN Jordan Health Centre" address that you used. I know I didn't tell you my address, and I am now rather glad I didn't. First, you might have revealed my address to a third party, if the next caller decided not to give an address when they asked for a quote. Second, I would not have known that you do not take proper care of customer's personal information.

You have a published privacy policy at:
but I do not think your behaviour complies with the policy, specifically, "Dell only uses your personal information for specific purposes". I doubt that "as a filler when the next caller does not give an address" is a specified use of my personal information.

Please ask your Personal Data Privacy Officer to respond to this complaint in full.

Allan Dyer

Actually, I made a mistake, Dell's privacy policy has a much more relevant clause:

Dell will not disclose your personal information to any outside organization for its use in marketing without your consent

Information regarding you (such as name, address and phone number) or your order and the products you purchase will not be given or sold to any outside organization for its use in marketing or solicitation without your consent. Your information may be shared with agents or contractors of Dell for the purpose of performing services for Dell.

I am not an agent or contractor of Dell involved with repairing laptops, so Dell should not be giving me their customer's addresses. To be fair, Dell didn't disclose personal data, because the Health Centre is not a person, but how often do they do this? What if they link a person's name with the address of a drug clinic or prison? If they don't have a culture of protecting personal information, what other mistakes are they making?

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