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Handspring hands out names, numbers

Did you buy a Treo communicator? Well, now you know your neighbor did too. A Handspring e-mail sent to customers accidentially unveils customer data.

Customers received two surprises from Handspring this week: an e-mail announcing the delay of the Treo handheld device, and a list of contact information for other Treo customers.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based handheld maker confirmed Friday that its customer service department inadvertently attached a spreadsheet with customer information to an e-mail sent to about 250 people who placed Treo orders in recent days.

The spreadsheets seen by CNET did not include credit card numbers, but they did have customer names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

Handspring sent the e-mail to inform customers that it was halting shipments of two of its latest Treo models, the Treo 90 and Treo 270, because of faulty screen parts.

"An error was made by our customer support, basically sending all those people a list of all the others that were (in the same situation)," said Handspring spokesman Brian Jaquet. "It was an error and we apologize."

Consumers weren't pleased with the error. "When you pay that much for a product, you don't expect to be mishandled like this. They are a communications company," said one customer who received the e-mail.

Jaquet added that the company tried to recall the e-mail and has since sent an apology note to customers.

This latest gaffe comes during a turbulent time for Handspring, which is depending on its Treo line to improve declining sales. Handspring CEO Donna Dubinsky said during a conference call earlier this year that the company is transitioning its business and will eventually stop making traditional handheld organizers in favor of wireless Treo communicators.

The company last week posted a smaller-than-expected loss for its fourth fiscal quarter. Handspring has sold about 40,000 Treo handhelds.

Handspring slipped to No. 4 in worldwide market share for device sales during the second quarter, according to preliminary estimates from research firm IDC. Handspring now trails Hewlett-Packard, Sony and leader Palm in the competitive handheld market.

CNET's Ian Fried contributed to this report.