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Scam Online Survey at the Weather Bureau

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rwenzori
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« on: December 27, 2010, 08:16:03 AM »

Some time back the weather bureau - http://www.weathersa.co.za/web/ - made radical changes to their site, reducing significantly the amount of information available for free to the casual user like me, and requiring a paid subscription for anything other than the most basic forecast. Which has been a source of annoyance to me.

Anyway, they have an invitation to complete a survey and win a prize, so I thought I'd have a go in the hope of having an opportunity to inform them about the errors of their petty commercial ways. Basic demographic stuff to start with - age, gender, etc. - then some badly-worded questions about their site though only a couple. Suddenly we are into deep commercial market survey mode - income, home electronics and brands, how many cars and what brands, what magazines do you read, and so on. Yikes! Sounds like bullshit to me. I closed the page freck them.

Does anyone know what this survey is about? Is the Weather Bureau trying to milk information so as to make some pennies selling email addresses? Or wtf has all that to do with weather?

Grrrrrrrrrrr.
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st0nes
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2010, 10:50:13 AM »

The weather bureau have no right to charge for weather information--they are a public service and we as taxpayers have already paid for it.  I think this was challenged in the US and their weather bureau was forced to back down and make the data available to the public free of charge.

In any case, there is a plethora of weather data and forecasts available on the 'net, so I have no reason to visit the weather bureau's site.
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bluegray
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2011, 11:39:08 AM »

I wouldn't go as far as call it a scam... looks like a standard consumer survey to me. Fill in what you are comfortable with or don't do it at all. The only contact info they asked for is your phone number, which you don't have to give.

As for some content not being free, from the FAQ:
Why this site is not free

    * Simply put, since we moved from around 20 basic tables, to covering 350 towns with rich maps and graphs, our bandwidth has gone up to 1Tb/m, and we've had to move to offsite hosting. Subscriptions plus advertising do not cover this cost. We hope to get there, and if we don't then we're going back to 20 basic tables.
    * Yes, you may be a 'taxpayer', but why should all taxpayers pay for the extra features that only a few use? Let's investigate the "I'm a taxpayer" argument further: We get from government around 0.00076% of the fiscus. If your annual tax contribution is a generous (for most) R500k/yr, you do indeed contribute R3.80/year to SAWS. Claims of "I pay your salary" don't hold water when R3.80 hardly covers a month's worth of bandwidth. In fact, the only people with a moral claim here are those that pay similar taxes, and do NOT use our site as it was previously designed for experts. Or even worse, those who used Accuweather and thus benefitted an offshore company as they previously had no reason to believe we offered more for free with better accuracy. We've pulled across around 300,000 of those users in the last year alone, and that remains our priority. Oh, and whilst we're ensuring equal access to as many as possible, we are actually thinking about affluent pilots too; Animated radar is an SA first, funded by this project.
# Having said that, we still provide more for SA than any other website on the planet for free - it's really only premium stuff that's charged. Plus we have a great mobile version, and many world-first features. ...

Sounds reasonable to me. Although I have no idea what '0.00076% of the fiscus' adds up to... anyone know?
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rwenzori
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2011, 13:24:06 PM »

Well I don't trust it one bit, nor them. What need do they have to know the make of car I drive, for example? There is no need to get into branding to work out your LSM, not so? I suspect telemarketing coming your way if you are foolish enough to give out your phone number.
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st0nes
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2011, 07:17:41 AM »

I wouldn't go as far as call it a scam... looks like a standard consumer survey to me. Fill in what you are comfortable with or don't do it at all. The only contact info they asked for is your phone number, which you don't have to give.

As for some content not being free, from the FAQ:
Why this site is not free

    * Simply put, since we moved from around 20 basic tables, to covering 350 towns with rich maps and graphs, our bandwidth has gone up to 1Tb/m, and we've had to move to offsite hosting. Subscriptions plus advertising do not cover this cost. We hope to get there, and if we don't then we're going back to 20 basic tables.
    * Yes, you may be a 'taxpayer', but why should all taxpayers pay for the extra features that only a few use? Let's investigate the "I'm a taxpayer" argument further: We get from government around 0.00076% of the fiscus. If your annual tax contribution is a generous (for most) R500k/yr, you do indeed contribute R3.80/year to SAWS. Claims of "I pay your salary" don't hold water when R3.80 hardly covers a month's worth of bandwidth. In fact, the only people with a moral claim here are those that pay similar taxes, and do NOT use our site as it was previously designed for experts. Or even worse, those who used Accuweather and thus benefitted an offshore company as they previously had no reason to believe we offered more for free with better accuracy. We've pulled across around 300,000 of those users in the last year alone, and that remains our priority. Oh, and whilst we're ensuring equal access to as many as possible, we are actually thinking about affluent pilots too; Animated radar is an SA first, funded by this project.
# Having said that, we still provide more for SA than any other website on the planet for free - it's really only premium stuff that's charged. Plus we have a great mobile version, and many world-first features. ...

Sounds reasonable to me. Although I have no idea what '0.00076% of the fiscus' adds up to... anyone know?

It doesn't sound reasonable to me.  This is the same flawed argument the SABC uses to justify the TV licence fee.  I don't have time to deconstruct this nonsense now, but just consider whether people might use Accuweather because they provide a competent service for a reasonable fee, which the SAWS does not.
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2011, 09:37:52 AM »

Well I don't trust it one bit, nor them. What need do they have to know the make of car I drive, for example? There is no need to get into branding to work out your LSM, not so? I suspect telemarketing coming your way if you are foolish enough to give out your phone number.
So they would have been more trustworthy if they didn't ask car model or brand related questions? Evil Those were optional questions anyway.

PS. You should love this Wink http://www.facilities.co.za/dma/dnc.aspx
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bluegray
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2011, 09:41:01 AM »

It doesn't sound reasonable to me.  This is the same flawed argument the SABC uses to justify the TV licence fee.  I don't have time to deconstruct this nonsense now, but just consider whether people might use Accuweather because they provide a competent service for a reasonable fee, which the SAWS does not.
Really? What does eg. Accuweather provide for free that SAWS doesn't?
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st0nes
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2011, 13:29:14 PM »

It doesn't sound reasonable to me.  This is the same flawed argument the SABC uses to justify the TV licence fee.  I don't have time to deconstruct this nonsense now, but just consider whether people might use Accuweather because they provide a competent service for a reasonable fee, which the SAWS does not.
Really? What does eg. Accuweather provide for free that SAWS doesn't?
A reasonable fee is not free.  Don't misquote.  SAWS must work out whether they are a taxpayer-funded public organization (in which case they should provide all their information to the taxpaying public free of charge) or they are a commercial organization (in which case they can charge whatever they like, but they should have no recourse to public funds.)
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rwenzori
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2011, 18:28:40 PM »

Well I don't trust it one bit, nor them. What need do they have to know the make of car I drive, for example? There is no need to get into branding to work out your LSM, not so? I suspect telemarketing coming your way if you are foolish enough to give out your phone number.
So they would have been more trustworthy if they didn't ask car model or brand related questions? Evil Those were optional questions anyway.

PS. You should love this Wink http://www.facilities.co.za/dma/dnc.aspx


Awright, please speculate a bit and give me some some kind of reasonable explanation for why SAWS - the weather bureau in oldtimers' language - - a govt. dept. - might need or make use of the information about what brand of car I drive and the make of telly in the house. I am not implying some kind of conspiracy between SAWS and SARS or anything like that, mind. Why do you think they might want that info? What finely-grained useful info does it give them that they need in addition to basic LSM data? What are they going to do with it other than sell it? They're the fucking weather bureau!

That DMA thing - not really going to help. Having once been caught up in a telemarketing venture, I can assure you that some of the worst offenders against personal privacy just ignore the DMA. Just as, on a related note, some of the worst WASPs do not belong to WASPA ( Vodacom for example ), and some not-so-kosher local ISPs do not belong to the ISPA.
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2011, 07:28:49 AM »

I am not implying some kind of conspiracy between SAWS and SARS or anything like that, mind. Why do you think they might want that info?

They will just cross-check it with all the available information they already have on you, see, eNatis have all your car details - never mind the new chipped numberplates you're getting this year that will track your movements, FICA ensured that they have all your personal contact details including your income/expenditure, RICA ensures that you do stay where you say you do and they can track and listen to your conversations/sms/mms messages. 

Why bleat? They got you and the rest of us so covered we dont even realise it, the only thing still needed to be done is have a major rollout of microchips inserted under the skin.

 Evil 

Seriously though, its marketing, and yes, they will most likely sell it on if you're idiotic enough to complete the survey. We're living in a capatalist society, and if there's money to be made, it will be done.  Even the banks and all of the above mentioned will sell it on if given the opportunity, I've had a staff member who sued her bank because they sold out her details (and she won).
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