Would any other EYFS company keep a customers data?

So, in my search for an alternative to Baby’s Days, I questioned as anyone might, whether it was wise to place my data with another EYFS software provider.  Since the blog started many readers and Baby’s Days customers have asked me the same question, “could this happen again with a different company?  Isn’t it a case of better the devil you know?”

It started to dawn on me that what Baby’s Days / Sys IQ Ltd has done to 3.5 years worth of my data may reflect badly on other EYFS provider, so I thought I would post a blog post to clarify that I truly believe this would never have happened with a different online EYFS provider.

When you read reviews of Baby’s Days the one consistent theme is that customer service is terrible; the man behind the customer service is Mark Kahl as far as I am aware.  He is the company director of Sys IQ Ltd.  He is also the common denominator in almost every single negative experience a customer of Baby’s Days has had.  In the interest of fairness, I’m sure lots of customers also find him very helpful.  The point in that he does not work with any other company and so his customer service techniques are isolated to the Baby’s Days brand alone.

I contacted a few different companies and asked them:

…I have a lot of people asking me if they were to leave Baby’s Days for another online software company, how could they be sure the new company wouldn’t withhold their data in the same way Baby’s Days has withheld mine.  How can customers be sure their data would be returned?

Most of the companies replied in an extremely shocked tone, they couldn’t believe that Baby’s Days didn’t allow me time to download my data before they terminated the agreement.  They were even more shocked when I told them that any attempts to retrieve the data after termination had also been fruitless and that the ICO had found Baby’s Days to be in Breach of The Data Protection Act.

It’s feel it is fair to conclude that that way Baby’s Days has handled my data isn’t the industries standard approach; as such readers of the blog shouldn’t think if they switch providers the same thing might happen with the new provider.  It seems to be a customer service issue isolated to Baby’s Days alone.

For those that would like to read more info, here is what each company said about their own policies regarding returning data to their customers after terminating an account:

Minding Matter (Previously Mega Minder):  “Your data will ALWAYS be accessible to YOU and the PARENTS of your setting. We will NEVER lock you or the parents of your setting out of your account

Easy Solution 4 Nursery Education: “All data is owned by the provider or [by] the family in the case of our ‘linked up’ (to the provider’s EASYpro) and the stand alone version EASYparent. 

We view our role as the guardians fo their data (as per our terms and conditions – 9.1 The Licensee shall own all rights, title and interest in and to all the Licensee Data and shall have sole responsibility for the legality, reliability, integrity, accuracy and quality of the Licensee Data).   Our software is applicable for children from birth until their eighth birthday, when the data is deleted. 

However, we give the setting, or the family in the case of EASYparent and EASY@home, ample opportunity to download all the information in a report form, before the data is removed.  We also offer to return to them, the photographs that have been uploaded in JPEG format, although there is a small charge for this service.  These conditions also apply to any setting that may cease to subscribe to EASYpro.

Owl Track:  “I have just had my first client leave recently due to financial reasons. As I mentioned before I cant send them data as such but they can access it via their account on [the] site. I have told this client that I will not delete the account for two months in order to give her time to download, save or print any information that her or her parents requires. I will also check with her before finally deleting it. This is good customer service which is vital for business these days.”

Orbit:  “We suppose we are slightly different in that Orbit is free, so there is no subscription. We also allow the download of children’s learning journeys at any time (as a pdf document) so you always have access to the data…. In the unlikely event that we were to stop providing the service, we would give our users the maximum amount of warning possible and allow them to download and backup data.”

2simple:  “You may access your information (in return for a small fee) and request details of the entities with whom we have shared your information by contacting us at info@2simple.com. In most cases we will comply promptly with your request and let you know when we have done so.

However, sometimes you will not be entitled to access your information. For example, where the public interest or your own interests override your rights under the Data Protection Act 1998. We may withhold information where we are legally allowed to do so.”

Target Tracker:  “I can advise that we would never withhold a subscribers’ data.  In fact we make it very easy to export the data at any point as a file or by exporting whichever reports are useful.

If a subscriber chooses to leave they are able to export their data up to the end of the subscription.  After that point a small admin charge may be applicable as we would need to re-enable the subscription in order to export it.

We like to put our subscribers at the heart of what we do and it would not be in anyone’s interest to make things difficult for any customer.”

EYFS Tracker:  We have only once been asked by a setting for access to their data after they had let their licence lapse. We re-enabled their account on the same day they requested it to allow them to download their data (as they had an Ofsted inspection the following day), and we did not charge a fee for this.

Connect Childcare:  Our viewpoint is very simple – we own the software but you own the data. At any stage you can download/back this up yourself if you wish.  We will help you do this as it’s yours.

I also contacted Jeans Database, although the package does not offer an online facility I felt it fair to include the company with the others.  Jean replied; “The CM Software database is not an on-line product – it resides 100% on whatever device the customer chooses to store it on.  Which means that they also have 100% access and ownership to their data at all times. “

Pop back tomorrow for a post about how many childminders believe simply sing Baby’s Days will result in them achieving an Ofsted Outstanding grade.

Has Baby’s Days lied to the ICO?

I’ve exchanged some very bizarre emails with the ICO and Baby’s Days over the past few weeks regarding my subject Access Requests.  It seems to me that Baby’s Days are getting confused about how to handle the requests, and getting the requests mixed up and at one point have continually referred to my son by some other name?!

Slightly alarming when they are handling so much data.  But never the less, I’ve tried to make sense of this info, but it seems to me that Baby’s Days are either deliberately muddying the waters so to speak or they are getting themselves in a right muddle.

Can anyone make sense of the following?  It seems to me that on the 17th Feb, the ICO told my co-minder that Sys IQ Ltd had confirmed to them that her daughters data had been deleted.  Here is the email from the ICO so you can see it for yourself.

ico say AA data has gone

But then on the 18th Feb, a day after the email from the ICO my co-minder was contacted by Sys IQ Ltd directly, who stated, “your subject data request is now closed and we will be unable to provide you with any data for *childs name*”. Email below.  Surely they couldn’t continue with the request because they had already deleted the data?  So why have they sent this confusing email?

BDs close AA request

Baby’s Days seem to be fast becoming confused by the situation, despite it being very simple.  The cancelled the subscription, they with held the data, we would like it back.

What do these emails look like to everyone else?  Would you ever have imagined it would be this hard to retrieve work that most minders believe to be “theirs”?

PS.  You may have missed the last few posts as the email sent to subscribers doesn’t seem to have been working.  You can check them out here, one about Baby’s Days not being ISO Accredited, and another about the ICO.

Baby’s Days and Contractors.

So last night, I blogged about a possible contractor used by Baby’s Days who lives in the Ukraine.

Kel Thomas has posted over in the Official Babys Days support group that it’s none of my business, “who they employ and it’s [also] none of our [meaning customers] business”.  A few other users go on to say that banks and electricity companies employ people all over the world.

 I thought I’d use this blog post to perhaps clarify some points.

  1. I don’t care if a contractor lives in a yacht off the coast of St Trpoez or in a mud hut in Yemen.  I do care that a company claims to only use in house developers when potentially they are not in house at all and are actually contracted.  This would be dishonest.
  2. Secondly and more importantly, I don’t care if Baby’s Days use contractors, as I said, it’s pretty standard.  But I do care if they put competitors down for using contractors when they are actually potentially doing the very same thing!  Is it a bad thing to use a contractor?  Not necessarily.  Is it bad to lie about your use of a contractor?  Of course it is!  This would be dishonest.

Do Baby’s Days Use Contractors?
Baby’s Days claim that they don’t “subcontract the development of their system to unknown individuals”. I have asked Baby’s Days how they explain the gentleman based in the Ukraine and also the countless other adverts placed on Freelance websites over the last 3 years including one for a logo redesign and another as recent as December 2014 for an IOS developer to develop an app.  They have declined to comment.

Is it any of your business who works for Baby’s Days?
Anyone who actually thinks it’s none of their business who a company potentially uses as a contractor obviously needs to think long and hard about making such claims.  As a childminder, I can’t let one person over my threshold without signing a visitors book (ok, it’s not a legal requirement, but you know what I mean), so why would it be ok to potentially share a load of information with a stranger a company may or may not have vetted?

As Baby’s Days deny their use of contractors they haven’t published parameters for how contractors will operate or what they can and can’t see/do, which is what most companies tend to do.  Their Terms and Conditions say, “Each party will ensure that any agents or subcontractors that are permitted to access any of the other’s Confidential Information are legally bound to comply with the obligations set forth herein.”

But what does that actually mean?  Can contractors access Confidential Information?  Would Photos fall under this?  Can contractors download photos?  Importantly what happens when the T&Cs change again, without customers knowing as happened in November?  What additional rights could possible contractors potentially be given?

These are the questions that pop into my head as an ex user and really they should be popping into everyone’s head that has used this service since it began.  Until Baby’s Days clarify this matter we really wont know all of the facts unfortunately and it’s quite frankly extremely arrogant to suggest customers have no right to know who may potentially have access to their data.

DISCLAIMER: Since Jan 1st 2015 the previously mentioned, “Official” support group endorsed by Baby’s Day was re-branded and no longer contains the word “official” and seemingly is no longer endorsed by Baby’s Days.  At the time of writing this blog post the details within were 100% accurate.

Baby’s Days and The Ukraine!?

So you might be wondering what Baby’s Days has got to do with the Ukraine?  Given that their team is “in house” and that they have a UK data centre you’ve probably assumed that everything is based here in the UK.

I was a user of Baby’s Days for 3.5 years and assumed that it was Mark that did all the coding (as he set it up initially for his wife) and then more recently Jeff joined the team part time as a kind of database administrator.  To my recollection I’ve never actually been told this, it’s more implied from the website wording and facebook posts etc.  Others might have interpreted things differently too, let me know in the comments section.  So to my mind, “in house” always meant either Mark or Jeff.
But recently I have realised that Baby’s Days has at least one employee based in The Ukraine. I did wonder if maybe the Gentleman was just from the Ukraine, but his Facebook accounts says he lives in the Ukraine.  Most companies use contractors so I don’t find this odd but the fact that Baby’s Days have failed to mention this employee does seem very misleading to me.

As I’ve said elsewhere on the blog, I’m not very technically minded so I am unsure how much, if any, of your data this gentleman has access to, if he can view or download photos etc.  When you login to your system you give permission  to be, “monitored and recorded by on-site system personnel.”  I am also unsure if this gentleman would have the ability to monitor and record you system use or if he is classed as “on site system personnel”.  These are questions I had hoped to ask Baby’s Days but they did not get back to me with a comment sadly.

I have asked Baby’s Days to comment on this information and they declined to do so.  As such this post is based on all information available at the time.  If new information comes to light, I will obviously update this post so that it remains as factual as the others on this blog.  There is of course the very small chance this man has a made up Linkedin and Facebook account and he doesn’t work for Baby’s Days at all.

Has anyone complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office about Baby’s Days?

So I have been contacted by a few people advising me I should contact the ICO regarding how Baby’s Days have handled the data they have stored for me through the service my co-minder pays them each month.

Section 7 of the Data Protection Act provides the right for customers to request a copy of the information an organisation holds about them.  However, the right of access goes further than this, and an individual who makes a written request and pays a fee is entitled to be:

  • told whether any personal data is being processed;
  • given a description of the personal data, the reasons it is being processed, and whether it will be given to any other organisations or people;
  • given a copy of the information comprising the data; and
  • given details of the source of the data (where this is available). Source

When Babysdays “terminated” the account of my co-minder we immediately emailed them and asked if we could please make a subject access request as is our right under S.7 of the Data Protection Act.  Here is the email that followed:

I am still hoping, perhaps niavely, that Baby’s Days will give me back my system come Monday and in return I will remove my blog. If I don’t get back my system I will be contacting the ICO to see what they think about Baby’s Days response to my subject access request.

In the mean time I have made a Freedom of Information request with the ICO regarding Baby’s Day, Mark Kahl and Sys IQ Ltd to determine how many complaints or concerns (if any) have been made against them.  In 20 working days I will have an answer to post here. 

At the top of this blog there is a bar, it says email address, fill that in with your address and you will be notified of any changes to the blog.  Baby’s Days will not know you have done this.