Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Classmates.com - Social Extortion

Classmates.com is an evil, evil good idea. I am firmly in their clutches and I'm not sure what to do about it. Signing up is free, entering some of your info is free, reading other people's info is free. You can see who else has signed up. This is all cool, BUT if you try to communicate, they want money (pay to play if you will). i thought I was safe as I never tried to use the service to communicate, but instead made a note of the person and resolved to use another method to find them (i.e. Google, online phone books, ...)

But there's something I hadn't planned on. Someone who I went to school with is trying to communicate with me. Classmates will cheerfully send me the email, but as soon as I click on it I get a message (see image left) that basically says: if you want to read this email from Sue (her first name) pay up. They are evil in that they carefully tell me exactly who(first name, last name) is trying to send the mail and it's someone I knew. I can just hear the subtextual: "neener, neener, neener, gotcha." Which I believe the proper response is "Yoooou bahstards!" :)

It is someone I actually am curious about and I do want to see how she's doing. I'm likely going to give in on this, but not without some public whining about it here.

The problem with finding her using other methods is that her last name is common in that area (Google is finding me all sort of incorrect people), and if she's at all like she was in HS, she won't be very technical or have much findable presence on the internet, and she probably won't know how to find me - which isn't that hard at all. But I've been surprised before and she is using classmates.com. The cool thing is that at least classmates will tell me her name and if she changed it and she hasn't. She was gay when I knew her so no name change is no surprise and despite my being very used to people who question their sexuality, I can't imagine her deciding that her orientation is different, but then again she's in her 40's now and I can't imagine that either.


Mus Q. R said...

I had a similar experience with Classmates and eventually I just closed my account. Though in my case, I didn't want to talk to anyone in particular but just wanted to be in the loop about any upcoming reunions. But then I joined Facebook and about all the same people found me there, and that's free...

samstinkybreath said...

no, it's not a good idea.. you were extorted. they can't contact you and then withold the information.. legally.

i'm sure classmates should hire a new set of lawyers.. who know what they're talking about.

classmates.com can't just email you, contact you about someone involved with trying to contact you, find you THEN when you go to their site and suddenly you are bombarded with a commerce page asking for $$$ in trade of this information that they alerted YOU about.

they have to remove that option.. either get rid of the "having to pay them for your information" OR they stop contacting you about your information.

that simple..

what's worse is.. someone i know has tried to contact me through a message board of mine.. but i can't see who it is or what they said though classmates.com emailed me that someone did this and did it on my account.. it's my information... but i go to the site and POW there's that secure payment page.


they can't do that legally, not even if there's a clause!

extortion is extortion no matter how nicely organized and pretty the scripts are on their stinking website.

Ellen said...

samstinkybreath has interesting timing. Just a few days ago Classmates started offering 7 day free trial memberships, so I decided that it was worth trying.

I got Sue's contact info and am now in contact with her, and then I removed the (of course required) credit card information from my account. I'm waiting to see if they try to bill me anyway.