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Original post made by ValuesPrivacy, Old Palo Alto, on Aug 21, 2006

Today I received a call from my child's pre-school encouraging me to enroll in eScript. The person who called told me that their records indicated that I was not enrolled ... which made me wonder if eScrip transfers the enrolled member data to the particular school? Does anyone know if this is true?

I understand that this is a good way of raising funds for the schools in general, I understand that parents forget to do a simple thing such as enrolling while facing the challenge of 'life', I understand that one call on the schools part can get more parents enrolled - hence getting them the much needed funds ... but I value my privacy, I do not want my enrollment information to be made public !

Comments (6)

Posted by random person
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 22, 2006 at 5:20 am

I wondered the same thing. Here's the relevant section of the escrip privacy policy:

"ESI shall provide the following information to the designated school or organization of your choice: your name, address, telephone number, email address, whether or not you have debit/credit or grocery loyalty cards signed up on the program, total purchase amount made with your registered cards, total contribution paid in your name, and your enrollment date. Your organization will not receive any complete card numbers or specific purchase details. Purchase information shared with Program merchants is for the purpose of administering and auditing the Program."

Here's the link to the complete privacy policy: Web Link

Personally, I think escrip is making a real mistake. They should easily give you the ability to have only your name/selectable contact info provided to the school coordinator. I like the idea of signing up, but I don't really care to have my aggregate spending info provided outside of escrip (as boring as it is). I would be much more willing to sign up if they did this. I would imagine that some individuals may even wish to go so far as to remain anonymous from the school perspective.

The should also give a straightforward mechanism to "opt out" of any 3rd party marketing. In fact, I thought that Federal privacy laws more of less required this, so escrip may willingly comply with this.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2006 at 10:20 am

I signed up with eScrip when my son started preschool a year ago.

Much of the information being released to the school (name, address, phone, email) is information my son's school already has.

Does it matter that my son's preschool director now also knows my enrollment date with eScrip? Darn, I wanted to keep that a secret!

Do I care that she knows whether or not I have registered a debit card or credit card or grocery loyalty card with eScrip? Alert the media, I have a credit card!

Do I care whether the director can see that I contributed $5.83 through eScrip in a given month? No. Is this earth shattering information? No.

Do I like getting emails from Macy's and Club Cruise and other "3rd party marketing" companies twice a month? No. That's why I clicked a little sentence at the bottom of the last email labeled "To unsubscribe, click here."

Schools are scrambling to get any funds they can just to stay in operation. Don't try to scare people away from one of the best funding sources available.

If you don't like the concept of eScrip, just don't sign up.

If you think that they should change their privacy policy send them an email. Don't moan about it on Palo Alto online. DO SOMETHING.

Posted by random person
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 23, 2006 at 11:14 am

I don't care about most all of the stuff that Parent listed, but there's one that was skipped:

Do I care that my total purchase amount is disclosed?

Yep, you bet.

And yes, I've sent email to escrip saying so. I don't think the original poster nor myself are scaring anybody from signing up. If their privacy policy doesn't bother you by all means you should sign up.

I believe talking about it IS the most effective way to get them to change their policy to accomodate those of us who do happen to care.

Posted by ValuesPrivacy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2006 at 12:04 pm

Parent, dear Parent - you completely missed the point of my original post. I was merely validation what I thought was true - the head of the institution gets my information if I enroll ... and if we cannot validate/ask for more information on such forums - why should one use these forums for ?

We like to think our information is private - but almost everyone having an access to the internet knows how easy it is to find information on someone. The public records are available online - to get some more info, all you need is a credit card to pay the search fee.

Why do we ( or atleast some people ) send in forms to the phone company saying - do not sell my information? Why do we hit the "unsubscribe" button from the marketing emails ? Why do we put our names into the do-not-call lists .. its to prevent unwanted marketing calls. To me, my kid's preschool calling me saying that "you have not signed up for eScrip" is another marketing call. Whats worse here is that they are coming to know how much I am spending ... and that is something, that I would like not to be sent to the preschool.

As the other person said - all eScrip has to do is put another button "do not send my info" on their site. And yes, like this other person I also send eScrip an email asking them to think about this. They are welcome to send the amount information to the school .. just put "anonymous" in the name section. In the world where a person is trying to hang onto the scraps of privacy, is this too much to ask for ?

Posted by K.
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 23, 2006 at 4:37 pm

ValuesPrivacy, eScrip hasn't contacted you. Since you are not signed up, eScrip isn't aware of your existence. Your child's preschool placed the call to you (presumably by comparing their parent list to their eScrip list). If eScrip put a "do not send my info" button on their site, you would still likely have received the call from your preschool, because your name would not be on the list of eScrip supporters released to the school. So, it seems to me, your real issue is with the preschool. You should let the school know that you do not want to receive any calls, emails or other communication unless it is about your child.

But brace yourself. This is only the first of many "unwanted marketing calls" you are likely to recieve over the course of your child's schooling. With tight budgets, schools reach out to parents for fundraising fairly often. We receive at least two letters from PIE (Palo Alto Partners in Education) every year. We were also contacted on several occasions when the parcel tax issue was on the ballot (both times).

Random Person, I would agree that "total purchase amount" seems like a gratuitous piece of information from the school's perspective. I think that I will send an email to eScrip about that myself. However, I'm inclined to agree with Parent. I don't think it is "earth shattering information". Since no "specific purchase details" are released by eScrip, what is your concern about the disclosure of the "total purchase amount"? I would imagine that we all do quite a lot of spending at stores and restaurants that don't participate in eScrip. So the eScrip "total purchase amount" (reflecting only what was spent at eScrip participating businesses) hardly reflects the total spending in any given household.

Parent, I agree with you for the most part. I think eScrip is great for schools. And I'm not bothered by the information that is being released to the schools. It seems innocuous enough to me. However, you went wrong with the sarcasm and the weird defensiveness of eScrip. (Are you someone who has been tasked with placing calls to preschool parents like ValuesPrivacy, perhaps?)

Peace to all. There are other things in life to worry about.

Posted by NoOneSpecial
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 18, 2006 at 10:41 am

Just to add in case someone reads this after the thought, as I have.

eScrip is able to total our purchases, because the merchants turn over their receipts for processing by the eScrip computers...which are NOT accessible online.

I only mention that, because regardless of whether or not you sign up, your spending info will still go through those systems IF you shop at those partners. And, the list grows everyday.

We live in a world where the stores want to know what we like, and where we're going to spend our money. They will spend billions to find out. There's nothing we can really do about it, short of paying cash for everything, and falling off the grid.

It's terrible that we're loosing our privacy. I agree with you all on this. But if I have to loose my privacy, I'm least upset, if the schools make money for it. At least, the kids benefit.

As a coordinator, ONLY I have access to the information that gets sent to the school. I know who didn't sign up, because we compare the supporter list to the school's list. BUT, I have never called or singled anyone out to sign up. I pitch it like crazy, but never single anyone out. I understand how that can make someone feel like they're being forced into doing something.

May you all have a happy holiday season.


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