24.1.14

I DON'T WANT TO PLAY TWENTY QUESTIONS JUST TO BUY STUFF.

It's long been a gripe of mine that store clerks ask customers for their zip codes (give 90210 or something equally implausible).  Some stores have become more brazen, asking for 'phone numbers (212-736-5000 is a good way of sowing confusion) or email addresses (myob@kgb.ru) or a postal address.

The good news is, people who believe in privacy have won class-action suits in California and Massachusetts against corporations imitating the Ministry of the Interior.
In Massachusetts, a single law firm has filed at least seven ZIP code class actions in the past 10 months, with three of them — against Kohl's, J.C. Penney and Williams-Sonoma — naming the same customer as plaintiff.
The article also offers an instructive observation from Marquette Law's Bruce Boyden.
Frequent-shopper cards, which don't fall under the statutory restrictions on credit-card purchases, provide a rich lode of data on the specific purchases by specific customers.

"A lot of consumers don't realize this, but when you sign up for those discount cards and then you use them, you're essentially trading your personal information in return for a few cents off, or a dollar off, the products you're buying," Boyden said. "It's not something they're giving away for free. You're engaged in a transaction there."
I've taken to declining such offers by growling, "No thanks, I already have the government tracking me." Usually it's good for a smile.

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