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Catching Rae

Stores Lie to Coerce Personal Information - WTF?

So, I just got home from returning some items to Motherhood Maternity in Torrance - where the Sales Associate tried to convince me that California State Law requires them to collect personal phone information to complete returns. I was there for over 20 minutes while she fought with her computer to try and complete my return without it, and I'm not even remotely part of their target market. 

Um... Target just processed a different return in under 5 minutes without ever asking for my phone number. 

What is the world coming to when salespeople are willing to lie and trick and bore you into giving up your personal information? In case you didn't know, the State of California does not require you to give up your info - those policies are made by the stores and for the stores and must be disclosed. From the Office of the Attorney General:

Some stores keep records of consumers who frequently return merchandise and sometimes report that to a central reporting company and may not offer returns or refunds to such customers. The return policy notice must refer to such practice.

I ultimately did provide my phone number after I received my refund - even though none of my receipts state that I must surrender my phone number upon returns - because I fully understand that businesses have a right to track returns and prevent fraud. However, there are tons of good, legitimate reasons (which I voiced at Motherhood) why I didn't want a maternity store hoarding my phone number:

  • I'm not pregnant.
  • I don't plan to get pregnant. 
  • I don't want some store calling my home number and scaring the bejeezus out of my husband by making him think I'm pregnant.
  • I don't want some store calling me. Period. 

We as customers have the right to be informed of such data collection policies before the sale, because we have a right to choose who gets our private information. We also have the right to withhold said information if we were never informed of said policies. By all means, if you feel uncomfortable with anyone asking for your information - be it a faceless number cruncher or a cashier giving you bad vibes - check your receipt to see if you are required to comply. If not, politely explain your rights and decline.