Sierra Wireless, VOQ, Tiger Direct and Privacy

I noticed yesterday that TigerDirect was dumping Siera Wireless’ now discontinued VOQ Professional Phone at a really attractive price. The phone originally sold for about $500-600 about 18 months ago and at the time I was seriously considering buying it. Instead, I opted for a different smartphone and was glad that I did given Sierra Wireless’ decision to get out of the cell phone business.

In any case, I picked up one of the phones at the Toronto outlet store today. It was not labeled as used or refurbished and was made to look new. I got it home and started to look around. To my surprise, it contained 135 SMS messages (received throughout 2004 and early 2005), many of which obviously belonged the phone’s previous owner – he had quite an adventure to Meca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, and then was apparently looking for a house in Toronto. It contained birthday messages (so one would know his birthday) and his anniversary (two common items used for authentication by many businesses). It contained a password for something called Rogers Desktop (he was a Rogers Wireless subscriber) as well as activation codes for certain services. Amazingly, it also contained login credentials to access what appeared to be a corporate email account at Sun Microsystems. I’ve deleted everything but it just highlights to me the dangers of sending malfunctioning computer equipment to the manufacturers who then “refurbish” or “recondition” it without even going to the trouble of performing a “factory reset” to wipe the memory on the device. And it was disappointing that Tiger Direct does not prominently note that the product is factory recertified. Also, I guess the term factory recertified at Tiger Direct means that product could have been used for more than a year.