I have been researching brokers to open a new “arbitrage” brokerage account as an experiment on my fairly successful ETF covered call trades. I’m planning on executing a few covered calls on ETFs to gain at least an 8% return on my money over a 60 to 90 day peroid. The biggest bite out of my returns are the brokerage commissions and Zecco appeared very appealing with zero commissions until I read the Terms of Service.

The particularly disturbing section included the following

You also understand and agree that the Service may include advertisements and that these advertisements are
necessary for Zecco to provide the Service….You agree not to access the Service by any means other than through the interfaces that are provided by Zecco for use in accessing the Service.

There are a few references to Zecco’s Privacy Policy and upon reviewing that document, I spotted some troubling wording

(2) we may share limited information with third parties to assist in the analysis of customer demographics, business analysis and marketing strategies; these third parties must agree to strict confidentiality provisions to assure the protection of your information;

The issue, of course, is that Zecco seems all to willing to sell/share my personal info to third parties and appears to make a half-hearted attempt to say that my info will be protected. What does “these third parties must agree to strict confidentiality provisions” mean?

What is the penalty if they violate these provisions? What recourse is taken if my info is misused?

Worse yet is that I’ll have to sit through ads while accessing my brokerage account. Do I really need the distraction of ads while I’m trying to make a trade? If I use Adblock am I violating the terms of service since I’ve agreed not to access via any interface not provided by Zecco? What kind of spyware will I end up with on my machine?

Perhaps my biggest gripe is that Zecco is promoting itself as a commission “free” broker when in fact they sound more like a marketing machine ready to SPAM me to death with ads, third party offers and who knows what else. The “free” commissions aren’t really free when my personal info is being sold on the auction block to the highest bidder.

I wonder if this is the new information age future for consumers. GM doesn’t make money selling cars any more, they make money financing the cars. Brokers don’t make money on commissions but selling personal info to marketing companies. Oh well, I’ll keep looking for a decent broker.