Joshua Browder created Donotpay as a teenager at Stanford: originally it was a chatbot that helped you beat traffic tickets, but it has since expanded (thanks to an infusion of venture capital) into a Swiss Army Knife of automated consumer advocacy that can do everything from sue Equifax on your behalf to help you access homeless services to getting you a rebate when your plane ticket's price goes down after you've purchased it.
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Back in 2011, I signed up for a Zappos account so I could buy pants for a wedding I was in. Then I returned them because they didn't fit. I ended up buying them at the local Macy's instead (although I bought the wrong shade of grey, oops).
That should have been the end of my relationship with Zappos. Until I received this email the other day:
Zappos put me at risk by exposing my data. And the best mea culpa they can offer is "Here's a discount so you can help us to increase our Q4 revenue!" That might be even pathetic than the $125 offering from Equifax. Equifax may have exposed more personal information, but unless I plan on buying a $2,000 pair of John Lobb boots from Zappos—thus giving $1800 back to the company that just screwed over my data—then I'm basically getting nothing.
To be clear, Zappos offer here has only been preliminarily approved by the court in charge of the settlement. If enough people say, "I'm not paying you to pay me financial damages," the judge may change their mind. But I wouldn't hold my breath. If the only consequence to expose customer data is increasing Q4 revenue, then there's never going to be any incentive for any company to give a shit about the personal information of the people who keep them in business. And that's not a healthy economy.
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