Developer Is Tracking You!

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Geo

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Sep 19, 2010, 5:48:47 PM9/19/10
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On 1/27/2010 I wrote to Shad Tome, President of Harmony Development Company:

Is there some technical reason why I must keep
receiving these unwanted solicitations?

Shad never replied.

That was written more than a month after this:
(written on 12/7/2009)

...

This is the second time I've received crap email like
this (see the one dated Dec. 2 below), not to mention
all of the other sales related emails I have received
from you folks. Enough is enough. "Sales Emails" do not
equal "Activities Emails". OK? My email address was
provided to the "activities director" not to the
director of marketing. Your use of my email address for
marketing purposes is a breach of trust. I am shocked
that you can't see this.

I doubt that any Harmony resident appreciates receiving
unsolicited ads from you Shad. The same goes for me. I
would appreciate it if you would have my email address
removed from your ads list.

...

To which Shad replied:

We will exclude you from receiving these emails in the
future.

There is one data base for residents and one for
prospects. We will exclude you from the proper one.

So contrary to Shad's promise, just like on 1/27 I received another
marketing email yesterday from the developer trying to sell me more houses
in Harmony (see attachment).

What is really sad (besides the abuse of the Harmony activities email list)
is that besides the "receive up to $9,594* in closings costs!" inducement,
I've also heard that the developer even offers free golf course memberships
as sales incentives. How can the dozens of short-sale or foreclosure homes
in Harmony compete with that? How can the developer so shamelessly compete
with so many of its own residents for the limited space of home buyers at a
time when working people and their families are being driven into the
streets?

All of that is bad enough, but here is the truth about the insidious nature
of these activities emails (all of them, not just the marketing emails) sent
to unsuspecting Harmony residents. Here's a statement from the "Constant
Contact" email privacy page link found at the bottom of each email:

Use of Web Beacons

When we send you emails, we may include a web beacon to
allow us to determine the number of people who open our
emails. When you click on a link in an email, we may
record this individual response to allow us to
customize our offerings to you. Web beacons collect
only limited information, such as a cookie identifier,
time and date of a page being viewed, and a description
of the page on which the Web Beacon resides (the URL).

Web Beacons can be refused when delivered via email. If
you do not wish to receive Web Beacons via email, you
will need to disable HTML images or refuse HTML (select
Text only) emails via your email software.

While they claim that they "may include a web beacon", the fact is that they
always do. Here's an example from the email shown in the attachment:

Note: The "http://" prefix was left off of the following
links so they appear in their entirety in this post.

r20.rs6.net/on.jsp?llr=yg46kzbab&t=1103696592762.0.1101435698392.14412&a
mp;ts=S0535&o=http://ui.constantcontact.com/images/p1x1.gif

See all that gobbledygook after "r20.rs6.net/on.jsp"? It is used to identify
you. This is an example of a "hidden image" (in geek speak). It appears at
the bottom of each email you receive from the Harmony Activities Director.
This is the "web beacon" that notifies the developer that you have opened
the email. Besides the so-called "cookie identifier", just the act of
opening the email tells the developer this:

.) The time of day
.) Your email address
.) Your IP address
(home computer?, work computer?, wherever)

All of this happens even before you've clicked a single link in the email.
This means that even before you have a chance to read the privacy policy
about the "web beacons" you've been tracked!

But wait, there's more!

Here's what the "BRAND NEW DAVID WEEKLEY HOME $159,900" link really looks
like behind the scenes:

r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=yg46kzbab&et=1103696592762&s=14412&e=0018
kRqAjQyGMNdt5O-AEFc4REnePfw6OdZxl4nU7rm1uXO8rQRtq4-hTW4lqCXC6wmexC7U_jMcFCfH
C6X0pP-9LPS93lVG-IExnCKRJULLicidL71gov9RKEnpgEYptC30bE96M4k2V6MFLABQtHQg6amf
gJvcScq

This is how they know that you've clicked that particular link and that you
have some interest in another home in Harmony.

What's really disturbing about all of this is not the spam emails. This
tricky tracking happens with EVERY mass email sent by the Harmony Activities
Director. This means that if you thought that you were submitting anonymous
feedback on those surveys distributed over the past year or so, think again.
They likely know who you are, what you wrote and where you live.

So in the future when you are asked to fill out a survey from the developer,
look at your browser's address bar and see if the link is nice and simple
like this:

http://HarmonyFL.com/survey.jsp

Or look and see if the link is full of all that "Constant Contact"
gobbledygook used to track you.

The point of all this is that in this day and age decent companies tell you
up-front that they will be using such tracking techniques to monitor its
customers (or in this case the citizens of a small community). It is
indecent to do this without the full knowledge of those participating.

Considering what we've seen before from the likes of Harmony Development,
Starwood Capital and Lochmere Development / Lochmere Land Company (aka
Robert D. Evans), this comes as no surprise at all.

2010-09-18 EmailTracking.pdf

Geo

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 5:47:35 PM9/28/10
to HarmonyFL
*** UPDATE ***

It looks like Shad finally got the message.

Another marketing email was sent out today by Harmony Development
Company. For the first time ever (thankfully), I didn't receive it! I
did receive an "Imagination Station" email from the activities
director though.

So now we finally know that it is indeed possible to receive Harmony
activities emails without the dreaded marketing spam.

Hallelujah!
>  2010-09-18 EmailTracking.pdf
> 301KViewDownload
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