Consumer group slams Qantas for web-monitoring toolbar

By David Flynn, October 29 2013
Consumer group slams Qantas for web-monitoring toolbar

Australian consumer advocacy group Choice has sledged Qantas for its Frequent Flyer Toolbar which plugs into web browsing software to give users points in return for monitoring their online searching habits.

Choice singled out Qantas for the dubious honour of an annual Shonky Award intended to "name and shame the shonkiest products and companies taking advantage of Australian consumers.

(As the Choice website helpfully points out, Shonky is Australian slang meaning "unreliable, unsound, dishonest, poor or of dubious quality; shoddy").

"This is a case of big data, small rewards – and why does an airline want to know everything you search for on the Internet, anyway?" Choice asks.

As Choice explains, while users of the software earn only 150 Qantas Points from using the toolbar, Qantas can collect a motherlode of data by recording every search.

"Qantas will monitor your searches and send you targeted and relevant marketing material for products, services and offers they think might interest you" Choice explains.

"Search for 'Gold Coast accommodation' and you’ll be sent ads for Gold Coast hotels; search for 'apple pie recipe' and you’ll get ads for New York hotels; and search for 'cheap flights' and you’ll get ads for… kites."

"So, just to be clear, you let Qantas spy on your web searches and you get one point per search. And after almost eight years you’ll have enough points for a one-way ticket between Sydney and Melbourne."

"Meanwhile, courtesy of your Frequent Flyer membership, they know who you are, where you live and what you’re into. While you can turn the toolbar off for more - ahem - sensitive searches, we still think it’s a little bit creepy for not much reward."

However, as Choice points out, "not every Shonky Award winner may be breaking laws or breaching regulations".

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 645

dont webbrowers do this anyway???  as soon as i web search pretty much guaranteed to be bombarded with adverts relating to particular words on my search appearing all over websites with advertising space!! no big deal...i just laugh and ignore them...and your a fool if you think your every move on the internet isnt monitored by someone...somewhere!! theres no such thing as privacy on the internet!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Yes, its not a lot of points,

but its a web search, I already to hundreds a month, it doesn't cost me anything and I get free points

unlike for flights earned on flights, credit cards - where I have to spend money....


and if Qantas sees that I am searching for cheap flights to Asia, and looking at Air Asia, Scoot, Malaysian, then maybe they might offer me a better deal

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Consumer group slams Qantas for web-monitoring toolbar