Article on when a website offers something for free you are the product, datawise. Here it is loyalty cards and the dark arts of onselling products

October 21, 2013 |

Facebook is the classic example of turning the user into the product.  The data users blithely provide to Facebook is mined furiously and applying alogorhithims turned into advertising gold.  The user doesn’t pay to post his or her heartfelt thoughts, cute pictures of mitsy and how the twins look so cute bathing before bed time (something they may not thank Mum for in 20+ years).  Details from the timeline, likes and dislikes and shopping and personal conquests all become part of the vast array of data that helps advertisers to pitch their product.  Much the same applies to loyalty cards/programs.  In  Priceline to get more than loyalty for insurance the Age reports that Priceline has agreed with ACE Insurance to have the latter promote health insurance to its Sister Club members.  The story provides:

Priceline Pharmacy will receive commissions from the sale of insurance products to the 3.9 million members of its customer loyalty program.

The loyalty program, Sister Club, is one of Australia’s largest, providing rewards for money spent in Priceline’s health, beauty and pharmacy stores. Its intended clientele are women and it is promoted by Priceline owner Australian Pharmaceutical Industries as a ”key marketing differentiator”.

Under a five-year deal with global insurer ACE, travel, accident-protection and health insurance products will be promoted to Sister Club members via electronic and direct mail.

Priceline would receive commissions on sales, said Robin Moore, ACE corporate communications manager for Australia and New Zealand. ACE will manage telesales, customer service and claims.

A similar deal struck in 2011 with life insurer AIA ended this year. API declined to say how much revenue that agreement had delivered.

A spokesman said API was confident that the insurance offering, Priceline Protects, ”enhances … our members’ experience”.

Under the deal, ACE has no authority to sell or use Sister Club data for any other purpose than insurance products.

”It is important to note that members can opt out of receiving offers regarding Priceline Protects at any time,” the spokesman said.

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said that when people signed up to a customer loyalty program they should read the privacy policy to find out how the business would use their information, who else would see it and how it would be stored.

”Businesses that are covered by the Privacy Act are required to comply with several principles when handling personal information, including information collected for a loyalty card scheme,” he said. ”For example, companies are required to have a publicly available statement or privacy policy that tells people how they handle personal information.

”There are also rules about when businesses can share your personal information with others.”

The Privacy Commissioner’s response is very straight bad and somewhat anodyne.  There are some significant issues in cross promotions and the use of data to allow third parties market products to loyalty club participants.  Club members sign up for a purpose, not to have other products unrelated to the Loyalty Program foisted on them.

The Priceline Privacy Policy is found at the bottom of the web page (and found here) provides:

Privacy Policy

Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited ABN 57 000 004 320 and its subsidiary companies (“API”, “we”, “us” or “our”) recognise the importance of privacy issues. This Privacy Policy briefly tells you how we manage the personal information that we collect, use and disclose and how to contact us if you have any queries or complaints. This Privacy Policy does not cover personal information collected or held by us about our employees and is to be read subject to any overriding provisions of law or contract.


API provides pharmaceutical and other health and beauty related goods and services to retail pharmacies and the health market generally. In providing these goods and services, we may collect, use and disclose personal information. Personal information is information or an opinion, in any form and whether true or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent or can reasonably be ascertained from the information or opinion.

Our collection, use and disclosure of personal information is governed by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), as amended (Privacy Act). This Privacy Policy describes how we collect use and disclose personal information in accordance with requirements of the Privacy Act. 

Collection of personal information by us

We will only collect your personal information where it is reasonably necessary for or directly related to the conduct of our functions or activities.  We will typically collect personal information in the course of providing our goods and services to customers and in other dealings with those customers and prospective customers. We may also collect personal information as we determine necessary from time to time for any purpose in connection with the general conduct of our business, for example, in dealing with suppliers, service providers and contractors.

Where we collect your personal information we will do so only by lawful and fair means and not in an unreasonably intrusive way.

Where we collect your personal information, and it is reasonable and practicable to do so, we will collect it directly from you. Where it is lawful or practical to do so, you may choose to deal with us anonymously (for example, when enquiring about our goods and services generally).

There may be occasions where we receive or collect personal information about you from a third party.

Kinds of information collected

The kinds of personal information we collect and hold will depend upon the reasons for, or circumstance of, its collection. It may include, amongst other things:

* your name, together with your contact or address details;
* other personal information you give us when you request a good or service from us. This  information may include: your requirements with respect to specific goods or services; your opinion or preferences with respect to any of our goods or services; or your credit card details, or your preferred payment method;
* information contained in any communications between you and us;
* information contained in an application form or other document given to us;
* transactional information about your acquisition and use of our goods and services; and
* any information we are required to collect by law.

Collection of other information on our website

If you visit our website, some of the information we and/or our contractors collect about your visit to our website is not personal information because it does not reveal your identity. Information of this nature can include:

Site visit information

When you visit our website, we and/or our contractors collect general information about your visit which may include your server address, the date and time of your visit, the pages you accessed, the information you downloaded and the type of Internet browser you used.

We and/or our contractors may use this information in anonymous, aggregated form, for statistical purposes, to assist us in improving the quality and usability of our website.

Use of cookies

A cookie is a small string of information that a website transfers to your browser for identification purposes. The cookies we and/or our contractors use may identify individual users.

Cookies can either be “persistent” or “session” based. Persistent cookies are stored on your computer, contain an expiration date, and are mainly for the user’s convenience. Session cookies are short-lived and are held on your browser’s memory only for the duration of your session, they are used only during a browsing session, and expire when you quit your browser.

We and/or our contractors may use both session and persistent cookies. This information may be used to personalise your current visit to our and our contractors’ websites. Upon closing your browser, the session cookie is destroyed.

Most Internet browsers can be set to accept or reject cookies. If you do not want to accept cookies, you can adjust your Internet browser to reject cookies or to notify you when they are being used. However, rejecting cookies may limit the functionality of our website.

How your personal information will be used

We collect your personal information so that we can use it for or directly in connection with our functions and activities which include, amongst other things:

* processing your orders;
* being aware of any special good and service requirements you may have;
* providing you with electronic confirmation of your orders (where applicable) and advising you of any changes to our goods and services;
* confirming your identity when you contact us;
* addressing any feedback or complaints you may have;
* any purposes for which it was requested and directly related purposes; and
* developing, improving and marketing our goods and services.

If you do not provide us with your personal information, we will be unable to do one or more of the above (including being unable to accept any orders and service requests).

We will assume you consent to management of your personal information in the manner specified in this Privacy Policy (which may change from time to time) until you tell us to the contrary by contacting us using our contact details below.

Sensitive information

We will not collect, use or disclose sensitive information about you unless it is necessary to provide you with a good or service and we have your consent or unless we are legally required to collect, use or disclose that information.

Sensitive information is any information about a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs or affiliations, membership of a professional, trade or political association or union, sexual preferences or practices, criminal record, health information or genetic information about an individual that is not otherwise health information.

Use of your personal information

We collect your personal information so that we can use it for or in connection with our functions and activities which may include, amongst other things:

* confirming your identity when you contact us;
* accepting and processing your orders;
* providing you with any of our goods and services or information about those goods or services;
* being aware of any special good or service requirements you may have;
* providing you with electronic confirmation of your orders (where applicable) and advising you of any changes to our goods and services;
* administering and managing the provision of our goods and services to you, including billing and debt collection;
* conducting reviews or checks of your credit worthiness;
* addressing any feedback or complaints we receive from you;
* developing, improving and marketing our goods and services;
* complying with relevant laws, regulations and Codes; and
* using your personal information for any other purpose that it was collected for or any related purpose for which we are entitled to use your personal information.

Where we are not able to collect personal information that we require to conduct a particular functions or activities, it may restrict or limit our ability to conduct or perform that function or activity.

Use and disclosure of personal information by us

If we use or disclose your personal information for a purpose (the “secondary purpose”) other than the main reason for which it was originally collected (the “primary purpose”), to the extent required by law, we will ensure that:

* the secondary purpose is related to the primary purpose of collection (and directly related in the case of sensitive information), and you would reasonably expect that we would use or disclose your information in that way;
* you have consented to the use or disclosure of your personal information for the secondary purpose;
* the use or disclosure is required or authorised by or under law; or
* the use or disclosure is otherwise permitted by law (for example, as a necessary part of an investigation of suspected unlawful activity).

Disclosure of personal information to third parties

Where permitted by the Privacy Act, personal information we collect about you may be disclosed to third parties as we determine necessary from time to time for any purpose reasonably necessary or directly in connection with the conduct of our business, including, but not limited to:

* any service provider we engage to carry out our business functions and activities;
* our professional advisors and other contractors (for example IT consultants and mailing houses);
* any person who introduces you to us, or who is acting as your referee or guarantor;
* your authorised agents or your executor, administrator or legal representative;
* an organisation that is an arrangement or alliance with us (for example, for the purpose of promoting or using our respective goods or services or conducting a seminar or promotion);
* our business associates and others for purposes directly related to the purpose for which the personal information is collected;
* our related companies;
* organisations that are involved in a transfer or proposed sale of our business or assets;
* any entity to which we are required or authorised by or under law to disclose such information (for instance, Federal or State law enforcement agencies and investigative agencies, courts and various other Federal or State government bodies); and
* others that you have been informed of at the time any personal information is collected from you.

Transborder data flows

We will only transfer personal information to someone who is in a foreign country if:

* we reasonably believe that the recipient of the information is subject to a law, binding scheme or contract which effectively upholds principles for fair handling of the information that are substantially similar to the Privacy Act;
* you consent to the transfer;
* the transfer is necessary for the performance of a contract between you and us, or for the implementation of pre-contractual measures taken in response to your request;
* the transfer is necessary for the conclusion or performance of a contract concluded in the interest of you between us and a third party;
* all of the following apply:

– the transfer is for your benefit;
– it is impracticable to obtain your consent to that transfer;
– if it were practicable to obtain such consent, you would be likely to give it; or

* we have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the information transferred will not be held, used or disclosed by the recipient of the information inconsistently with the Privacy Act.

Security of your personal information

We protect any personal information that we collect and hold about you from misuse or loss. We also protect it from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. Where we need to disclose your personal information to a service provider or other agent or contractor, we prohibit them from using the personal information except for the specific purpose that we have provided it.

We will take reasonable steps to destroy or de-identify personal information if it is no longer needed for any purpose for which the information may be used or disclosed in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Keeping your personal information up-to-date

We take reasonable steps to ensure that any personal information collected by us is accurate and up-to-date at the time of collecting, using and disclosing that information.

If you learn that personal information we hold about you is inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date, you should contact us.

You also have a right to request that a statement be attached to your personal information if we disagree with your request to correct the information.

Access and correction of your personal information

You can ask to obtain access to personal information that we hold about you, although under some circumstances permitted by law, we may not provide such information to you. If we are not able to provide you with access to any of your personal information held by us, we will tell you the reasons why this is the case.

We may ask you to put your request in writing and pay a reasonable fee to us before providing requested access.

How to contact us

If you wish to contact us, for example, to access or correct your personal information, you may contact us at:

Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited
ABN 57 000 004 320
250 Camberwell Road

Ph: 61 3 8855 3000
Fax: 61 3 8855 3402


If you have a complaint about the way we have dealt with your personal information, please contact us at the above telephone number and ask to speak with our Company Secretary or visit our website mentioned above. We will make all reasonable attempts to respond to your complaints or requests.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you may refer the matter to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner at:


Phone: 1300 363 992

Further information about the application of privacy law to the private sector generally can be found by contacting the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (details above).

Updates to Privacy Policy

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time and from time to time. If we do so, we will post the amended Privacy Policy on our website so that you will always be aware of how we manage your personal information.

It is the all to common densely worded sometimes understandable but often vague mass of verbiage typical of privacy policies found on commercial web sites.  Not doubt written by a lawyer but not with a view to being user friendly (not surprisingly).  It is enough to give a lawyer a headache so imagine how a customer, whose personal information is stored, used and sometimes disclosed, would feel wading through the morass of tedious phrases and sentences in search, often in vain, of an early full stop.
There is a curious clause:
We will assume you consent to management of your personal information in the manner specified in this Privacy Policy (which may change from time to time) until you tell us to the contrary by contacting us using our contact details below.
So if the privacy policy changes dramatically (as it may from time to time presumably)  the consent remains the same. The consent is fixed and immutable.  It is hard to believe such an innovoative approach to consent hasn’t swept the through the law of contract.
The Sister Club Policy is found here and provides:
         1.      The Sister Club card is issued by and remains the property of Priceline Pty Ltd ACN 005 768 310 (Priceline).

         2.    Application for, and/or use of your Sister Club card, is deemed acceptance of the Sister Club Terms and Conditions.

3.    “Sister Club” in these Terms and Conditions includes any affinity club operated by Priceline (where applicable).

Earning Points

4.    A minimum of $5 must be spent in a single transaction to qualify for Sister Club Points. One Sister Club Point is earned for every $1 spent. Sister Club Points are accumulated based on whole dollars spent, inclusive of GST.  

5.    Bonus Points may be offered from time to time during special promotions on selected products or services.

6.    Points (being Sister Club points and Bonus Points) accrue from relevant quarter to relevant quarter until the customer qualifies for a Voucher or the points are determined otherwise in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.

7.    The Sister Club card can be used at all Priceline and Priceline Pharmacy stores.

8.    To earn points for a transaction, the Sister Club card must be presented by the member at the instore register, or at the appropriate step if purchasing online, otherwise the transaction cannot be recorded and therefore points cannot be granted. Points cannot be granted to or redeemed by non-Sister Club members or retrospectively.

9.    Sister Club Points will be earned for all purchases made excluding prescriptions, the purchase of gift vouchers, products we deem and advertise as being excluded and products where the grant of points would be otherwise prohibited by law.

10.  If you are also a Priceline Protects policy holder you will need to provide your policy number to be eligible to receive Sister Club points on your premium. 


11.  Rewards, in the form of Priceline Vouchers or coupons, will be distributed via mail or email (at Priceline’s discretion) with a points statement to members who have become eligible to receive a voucher by the end of a relevant quarter.

12.  Customers who spend $100 or more using their Sister Club card become eligible to receive a Priceline Voucher at the end of the quarter in which they have accrued $100 or more worth of spend.

13.  The value of the Voucher will be based on the total number of points a member has accrued by the end of the last day of a collection period, including Sister Club Points and Bonus Points. For the purpose of calculating the value of a Voucher, total expenditure for that collection period will be added and rounded down to the nearest dollar.

14.  The voucher value will be equivalent to:

    1. – In normal circumstances, 3% of accrued Points; or
    2. – For Customers who spent over $200 in a relevant quarter, 4% of accrued Points.

15.  You can view the Sister Club points you have accrued free of charge at any time by visiting It can take up to 30 days from the date of an eligible transaction for the points to appear. Priceline excludes any liability for any delay or error associated with the grant of points.

16.  Vouchers are usually issued approximately a month after the end of every calendar quarter (i.e. March, June, September, December) but may vary at Priceline’s discretion. New dates may be advertised instore or on

17.  The redemption value of points may be varied at Priceline’s discretion. Any change shall not affect points issued prior to the date of change.

18.  Each Priceline Voucher will have printed on it the membership number of the member who earned the points. Priceline Vouchers may only be redeemed on presentation of a Sister Club member card bearing the same Sister Club number as printed on the voucher.

19.  Priceline Vouchers are subject to the Priceline Voucher Terms and Conditions which can be found on

General Conditions

20.  You must notify the Customer Service Centre on 1300 88 44 11 if your Priceline Sister Club is lost or stolen.  

21.  Sister Club points may, at Priceline’s discretion, expire or be cancelled.

22.  To the extent permissible by law, Priceline will not be liable for any errors, omissions delays or disruptions in the operation of the Priceline Sister Club program including products purchased or redeemed, or any losses thereof.

23.  Priceline will not be responsible for any issues or errors caused by it or any third party (including third parties who may provide technology or other services to Priceline).

24.  The Sister Club card cannot be used as a credit or guarantee card.

25.  Priceline or Priceline Pharmacy stores are not permitted or authorised to make any representation, warranty or statement on behalf of Priceline or other Priceline or Priceline Pharmacy stores in relation to the Sister Club program. As such, Priceline accepts no liability in respect of any representation, warranty or statement made by any Priceline or Priceline Pharmacy store member.

26.  Third parties who may be involved in the program do not have any authority, express or implied, to make any representation, warranty or statement on behalf of Priceline and Priceline accepts no liability in respect of such representations, warranties or statements.

27.  Priceline reserves the right to accept or reject any application for a Sister Club card at its sole discretion.

28.  Priceline reserves the right to, at its discretion, suspend or terminate a Sister Club membership for reasons including, but not limited to, a breach of these Terms and Conditions, any engagement in or suspicion of fraudulent conduct or improper use of the card.

29.  If a Sister Club membership is terminated, the member will not be eligible to receive any vouchers or other rewards for points accrued.

30.  Priceline reserves the right to suspend, vary, alter or amend all or any part of these Terms and Conditions, or terminate the Sister Club program at any time. No suspension, variation, alteration, amendment or termination of these Terms and Conditions or the Sister Club program will affect any Vouchers which have been issued at the time of any alteration, amendment or termination of the Sister Club program.

31.  Whilst Sister Club is free to join, there may be a fee to join affinity clubs also run by Priceline. Any fee to join an affinity club can be found on or displayed in-store. These Terms and Conditions will apply to any affinity club, subject to any additional terms and conditions advised by Priceline.

32.  All members of the Sister Club program must reside in Australia.

33.  By applying for and/or using a Sister Club card, each member agrees to the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information in accordance with Priceline’s privacy policy available on


34.  The promoter of the Sister Club, and any affinity clubs, is Priceline. Priceline Pty Ltd ACN 005 968 310 is located at 250 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, VIC, 3124.

Beauty Club Terms and Conditions

These Beauty Club Terms and Conditions are to be read in conjunction with and subject to the Sister Club Terms and Conditions.

Beauty Club is an affinity club of the Priceline Sister Club. Customers can join the Clubs online and at any Priceline or Priceline Pharmacy.

The non-refundable fee to join Beauty Club is $25.

For the purposes of Clause 13 of the Sister Club Terms and Conditions, the voucher value for Beauty Club members who spend $225 or more in a relevant quarter will be 5% of accrued Points.

Rewards for joining or provided just for being a Beauty Club member are not capable of return or exchange (except in case of products to which a legislative consumer guarantee applies), nor redeemable for cash or credit.

It is a somewhat one way set of of tems and conditions.  Interestingly clause 33  has a rolled up bundled consent to all the privacy policies. How exactly it constitutes a proper consent is a good question.

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