Ladbrokes – Stop thief!

It has been a while since a company has demonstrated behaviours that have left me both gobsmacked and fuming. Ladbrokes has just demonstrated itself as one of those companies that we should highlight at every conference on data privacy, and I sure will from now on.

So I opened a Ladbrokes account at some point with a plan to lose some money on the Grand National. It will not surprise anyone to know that I did not read any of the terms and conditions, lets face who does? In the past that has never bothered me until now.

So first thing that happens is that Ladbrokes email me to say that my account has been inactive and they are going to charge me for the fact I am not betting but it is still open. The email goes like this:

‘We recently wrote to you about an Administrative Fee which would be applied to your Ladbrokes account.

The Fee has now been taken from your account and was calculated as either £2 (or currency equivalent) or 5% of the balance on the date at which your account became inactive, whichever is greater. When calculating the charge, we have included balances from all wallets (including poker, casino etc). The Fee itself has been taken from the Sportsbook wallet and this may result in a negative balance if funds were held elsewhere.

If your account retains a total positive balance a further Fee will become due on the 1st day of every subsequent month.’

The first thing is the account is at zero and they still took the fee, so that is breaking their terms and conditions. Of course the obvious reaction is annoyance about the fact they are charging me for not using the account, but let’s say they have costs to maintain the infrastructure and we accept that. So I decide that I would like to close the account, that after all is what they are pressing me to do right? 

I write to their support services and ask to close my account. The response is as follows:

Dear Mr Bertozzi,
 
‘Thank you for your self exclusion request.
 
I can confirm that you have now been self excluded for 6 months. As you did not state a specific exclusion length, we have excluded you for the minimum period
 
You can extend your exclusion by any length, up to a maximum of 5 years, at any time. Simply reply to this email stating the length of time for which you wish to be excluded. Please note that 5 years is the maximum period we offer and we are unable to offer an indefinite period of exclusion. Please keep us updated regarding any changes to your contact details so we can continue to enforce this exclusion.
 
By entering into this self exclusion, you hereby release all companies from within the Ladbrokes group of companies, their officers and employees from any liability or claims whatsoever in the event that you fail to comply with this voluntary self exclusion scheme, including circumstances where you attempt to open and/or actually open a new account notwithstanding your self-exclusion, whether or not you have notified Ladbrokes you are self excluded.’
 
You what? Self exclude myself? No there seems to be a misunderstanding, I want to close my account, I want my data removed thanks a lot. I send a note to that effect. The response back from Ladbrokes is as follows:
 
‘Dear Mr Bertozzi,
Thank you for your e-mail regarding permanent account closure.
 
Unfortunately we do not offer permanent self exclusion the maximum that we offer is 5 years.
 
You can extend your exclusion by any length, up to a maximum of 5 years, at any time. Simply reply to this email stating the length of time for which you wish to be excluded. Please note that 5 years is the maximum period we offer and we are unable to offer an indefinite period of exclusion. Please keep us updated regarding any changes to your contact details so we can continue to enforce this exclusion.’
 

???? What? Now I feel totally violated. I can’t delete my details, I can’t remove myself from your database? I am totally shocked by this, in this climate of data invasion the idea that a major company is refusing to delete my details seems totally incongruous, even NSA is having to be more open and transparent about what data it collects and keeps. To me this is totally unacceptable and is what gives the data and online industry a bad name and has to be stopped. We hear all the time about how gambling advertisers have a less than above board to approach how and where they target consumers, but clearly it does not stop there.

 
I am not an expert on data privacy at this level, would welcome feedback from any experts on this, and please retweet my blog to raise as much exposure as possible on this issue. But this can’t be right?
 
I want my data back Ladbrokes. 
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