According to its web site, Upromise members get 1-25 percent discounts on eligible purchases from 600 online retailers, eight percent discounts at more than 8,000 restaurants “…when you pay with a registered credit or debit card.” and 1-3 percent discount at registered grocery or drug stores, also if they pay with a registered card.
Upromise, owned by Sally Mae, is the biggest private source of college funding contributions in the U.S., having deposited $450 million to members’ college savings accounts.
“…Upromise’s install screen euphemistically mentions that its ‘service provider may use non-personally identifiable information about your online activity.’ This admission appears below a lengthy EULA, under a heading irrelevantly labeled ‘Personalized Offers’ — doing little to draw users’ attention to the serious implications of Personalized Offers.”
Edelman traced the flow of the user’s data:
“…transmissions flow to the consumerinput.com domain. Whois reports that this domain is registered to Boston, MA traffic-monitoring service Compete, Inc. Compete’s site promises clients access to ‘detailed behavioral data,’ and Compete says more than 2 million U.S. Internet users ‘have given [Compete] permission to analyze the web pages they visit.’
Edelman’s blog post “Upromise Savings — At What Cost?” here.
Ben Edelman is based at the Harvard Business school. His blog is here.