By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You expect certain things when you stay at a hotel: a comfortable bed, a clean bathroom, but one traveler got something he didn’t expect when he stayed at a Days Inn. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan explains.
Gary Wolinsky says his road trip stop at this California Days Inn was just fine. But it was the fine print he noticed on his bill that didn’t sit well with the frequent traveler. It said that he had to personally call or write the Wydham Hotel Group if he didn’t want his personal information shared with the company’s affiliates. Wolinsky says, “It caught my attention. I did scrutinize it.”
It’s called an opt-out clause, automatically giving companies consent to share your personal information, unless you read the fine print and take some sort of action. Wyndam’s website says it collects everything from your address and credit card information to pictures and social media identification. It’s information it may share with other hotels, vendors, and service providers.
“Opt-out privacy programs by definition are not consumer friendly,” says consumer advocate Joe Ridout. He believes that most corporations have opt-out policies because they know that most people don’t read the fine print.
Selling or sharing information can be lucrative for businesses, but risky for consumers. In fact opting-out may not be enough. According to Ridout, “Even if you do opt-out it could be shared beforehand. It’s best to restrict as much info as possible, even perhaps to the extent of not giving them a genuine phone number or email address, if they have no need for this kind of information.”
Wyndham says they ” take reasonable steps to protect the information” but “cannot ensure the (it’s) security”. You may recall Wyndham’s computer systems were breached three times several years ago. Hackers stole the credit card information for 600,000 customers.