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Court Says California Stores Can't Ask Customers For ZIP Codes 461

Posted by timothy
from the mine-was-just-a-bunch-of-sixes-anyhow dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "CNN reports that the California Supreme Court has ruled that retailers in California don't have the right to ask customers for their ZIP code while completing credit card transactions, saying that doing so violates a cardholders' right to protect his or her personal information, pointing to a 1971 state law that prohibits businesses from asking credit cardholders for 'personal identification information' that could be used to track them down. 'The legislature intended to provide robust consumer protections by prohibiting retailers from soliciting and recording information about the cardholder that is unnecessary to the credit card transaction,' the decision states. 'We hold that personal identification information ... includes the cardholder's ZIP code.' In her lawsuit, Jessica Pineda claimed that a cashier at Williams-Sonoma had asked for her ZIP code during a purchase — information that was recorded and later used, along with her name, to figure out her home address by tapping a database that the company uses to market products to customers and sell its compiled consumer information to other businesses."
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Court Says California Stores Can't Ask Customers For ZIP Codes

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  • Worse is (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beowulf_Boy (239340) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:28AM (#35170508)

    Worse is O'Reilly auto parts. They want your name, address and phone number.
    They told me it was for "warranty information". I was buying a quart of oil.

    I walked out and went and bought it at Walmart instead.

    • I tell stores "you don't need my zip code" when they ask. As far as I can tell, they just enter "00000" into their terminal instead.

      • Re:Worse is (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:59AM (#35170704)

        I'm from 90210.
        My phone number is: 123-456-7890 OR the local police department's phone number.

        My name if paying cash is John Doe.

        Yes I've gotten some raised eye brows, but all I do then is tell them to prove me wrong.

        • Postcode (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:56AM (#35170968) Journal
          It's even more fun when you don't actually live in the US and are just visiting. They typically get very confused when you start saying letters.
          • I was into a store in Canada, and was asked a bunch of questions about my satisfaction with the store, and one along the lines of "How likely are you to visit an XXX-store again?". Quite honestly I answered "Highly unlikely, in fact it's quite possible this will be my only visit ever to an XXX-store". I got a surprised look from the clerk (I had indicated I was quite satisfied with the store), and felt I should explain: I have several thousand kilometres between home and the closes XXX-store.

            On topic: w
            • Why would they stop? It's an institution, the answer doesn't have to make sense. It just has to conform to the question.
        • I once took the trouble to figure out an address that would have basically been in the middle of an intersection. That became my "home" address whenever somebody who didn't need to know asked for it. I'm probably responsible for lots of junk mail getting thrown into the street.

      • Re:Worse is (Score:5, Funny)

        by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:08AM (#35170752)

        I tell stores "you don't need my zip code" when they ask.

        Please, please tell me you wave your hand as you say that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fishead (658061)

      There's a store in my neck of the woods, Princess Auto. They ask my phone number every purchase. I used to politely decline (and they'd always politely accept) until I was with a neighbour who returned something without a receipt. They asked his phone number, and promptly exchanged the item. With a store that touts "No sale is final until you are happy", I love giving them my number as they store a transaction a lot longer then I hang onto a receipt. I have abused and returned all sorts of tools withou

    • Re:Worse is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by idle12 (1871570) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:00AM (#35170710)

      I went to go get a Hair Cut. Yes, a hair cut and they handed me a form on a clip board that wanted:

      my name (including last).
      Phone Number
      Address
      Email address

      Which is ridiculous to start with; but to top it off they also wanted:
      Emergency contact (seriously?)
      Any medical conditions I might suffer from that would impair or need to warn the hair dresser about? (um?)
      Any family members or friends that might be interested in getting a hair cut. (wtf)
      and a "short" 2 page survey with questions like "How often do you get your hair cut?"

      This wasn't some high end fancy pants place. It was Great Clips or ClipNSave or Cost Cutters, one of the big ones. Hair cuts are normally $20 and I had a 75% off coupon.

      I told them "um, I'm not going to fill this out" and the snotty girl behind the counter said "well, I guess your not getting a hair cut here then"

        I agreed. Fuck everything about that.

      • Below is right about the bleach, but there are other concerns as well.

        Ever been poked accidentally by a barber? Now, what happens if they draw blood (even a drop is enough) and you're HIV positive? It's a reasonable question to ask.

        Or, simple things like hair lice or other vermin that could be infesting you.

        Some of it is obviously marketing driven (hair cut count, family members, etc..), but the other stuff is not as sinister as it might first appear.

        • Ever been poked accidentally by a barber? Now, what happens if they draw blood (even a drop is enough) and you're HIV positive? It's a reasonable question to ask.

          Unless your scalp happens to be the spurting kind, it ends up on the scissors, which are exposed to air--HIV doesn't like that. Even so, a 30-minute soak in the cylinder of Barbicide will take care of it [wikipedia.org], as well as Hep-B and Hep-C.

          Really, though, if you're a barber/beautician, and not being asked to shave someone completely bald, this should be a non-issue; I would say a fairly high number of adults (the folks who would be most prone to a serious bloodborne infection such as HIV or Hepatitis) are able to

      • I told them "um, I'm not going to fill this out" and the snotty girl behind the counter said "well, I guess your not getting a hair cut here then

        The third option is to flat-out lie. I don't see any legal or moral obligation to give them correct information. Address? "6394 8th Street, Tampa, FL" or "between homes". Phone? "I don't have one." Email? "I can't get personal email at work." Name? "Fred Chalmers." My wife said she has a hard time keeping a straight face when I'm telling the clerk at Toys-R-Us that we're Swedish and not legally allowed to give out that information.

    • Re:Worse is (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Nursie (632944) on Friday February 11, 2011 @02:03AM (#35171008)

      One day some years ago I went to Dixons in the UK to buy a modem. For those that know about the UK and Dixons - yes, I needed it there and then, there's no way I'd have gone if it wasn't an emergency!

      Anyway, picked up box from shelf, went to counter to pay for it. The box was a dummy and they had to get the real thing from out back. Like a fool, I paid. I paid in cash. Then they couldn't find it, so I said "fine, I'll take this other one", which I think was a couple of quid more expensive.

      Then they had to process a refund.

      "OK sir I'll just need your name, address and phone number"
      "Well you won't be getting them"
      "I need them or the computer won't process the refund"
      "No"
      "Oh, well... do you want me to get the manager?"
      "Please do"

      "What's the problem here?"
      "Well you don't have the item I just bought with cash and I'm not giving you all my details to process the refund"
      "Oh, well we need something to put in the computer" (facepalm)
      "As far as I'm concerned you've just taken my money, I want it back. NOW"
      "But the computer"
      "Make something up, what the hell do I care?"
      "OK..."

      She then proceeded to press some buttons, and then asked me again "So I'll need your name" at which point I crumbled and I started making shit up. The problem is not just marketing/data collection people. It's also moronic shop staff.

      • Re:Worse is (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rickwood (450707) * on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:32AM (#35171772)

        You could always use the U.S. standard.

        "I'll just need your name and address."

        "Sure! Jonathon Shade, 1060 W Addison St., Chicago, IL 60613."

        Which, for anyone who doesn't know is the address for Wrigley Field in Chicago, famously used by Elwood Blues on his driver's license in The Blues Brothers. Subsequently used by thousands of geeks when they just wanted to buy some electronics parts from Radio Shack, et al. for cash without giving their name and address.

        I'm not sure what the U.K. equivalent would be. The only address I could find for Wembley Stadium didn't have a numeric address that might throw people off the scent. Using the garage over the road at 11 S Way wouldn't have the same effect.

      • Re:Worse is (Score:4, Funny)

        by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:37AM (#35171786) Journal

        A regional grocery store that I frequent sometimes makes a habit of requiring a zip code, even for cash purchases.

        It goes like this:

        Them: "Can I have your zip code please?"

        Me: "No."

        Them: "But I need it to complete the sale."

        Me: "No, you don't."

        Them: "But it won't let me go any further without a zip code."

        Me: "So what?"

        Them: "Can I have your zip code?"

        Me: "No. You don't need it."

        Them (finally): "I'll have to call my manager."

        Me: "Finally."

        Manager: *keys in 00000, moves on with life*

      • Come on. You could have easily given the name as Bertram Wooster, Drones Club, London. Or Sherlock Holmes, 222-B, Baker Street, London.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Just tell them "no" and they will sell you the stuff anyway.

      I walked out and went and bought it at Walmart instead.

      And yet, Wal-Mart stores more information about purchases than probably anyone, and are total scum in many other ways as well since Sam.

  • by crankyspice (63953) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:30AM (#35170520)

    The law provides for the collection of personally identifying information that's necessary for the transaction. Online, this includes the billing zip code. This ruling apples to card-present retail transactions. FYI. Here's the entire decision: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S178241.PDF [ca.gov]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:41AM (#35170586)

      The law provides for the collection of personally identifying information that's necessary for the transaction. Online, this includes the billing zip code. This ruling apples to card-present retail transactions. FYI. Here's the entire decision: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S178241.PDF [ca.gov]

      Except the billing zip code happens to be a very important (though not the only) piece of AVS (Address Verification System), which is used to combat fraud. In a nutshell, the merchant submits the customer's address along with their card info, and (depending on the merchant's arrangement) the credit card processor checks to make sure certain parts of that address match what's associated with that card number. Zip code happens to be one of the most reliable.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        which is used to combat fraud.

        Bullshit. If my credit card company wants to talk to me and ask me security questions, they can ask the merchant to put me on the phone. The merchant is neither law enforcement nor my legal counsel. They have their arrangement with the credit card company. I have my own, separate arrangement with the credit card company. And never the twain shall meet. And if the risk of doing business is too great for that 3% or 5% or whatever they earn on every single transaction before eve

        • by vijayiyer (728590)

          The merchant is the one that eats the cost of fraudulent transactions, not the card company. One could argue that you always could use cash if you wanted to be anonymous.

    • by perpenso (1613749)
      Hopefully gas station pumps can continue to ask for a ZIP rather than a PIN. Just a personal preference.
  • Why does it take so long for someone to finally challenge crap like this? Every time someone asks me for this kind of information at the register it just makes me mad... with so many other ways to validate my identity there is zero excuse for exposing this kind of data to retailers.

    Here's to hoping this cascades to other states... who am I kidding, somewhere a lobbyist is talking with a CA state senator about when and how quickly they can amend the law.

    -rt

    • Every time someone asks me for this kind of information at the register it just makes me mad... with so many other ways to validate my identity there is zero excuse for exposing this kind of data to retailers.

      A ZIP Code is hardly personal information. Who cares what city you live in? You're already giving them your name and fucking credit card info of all things... what makes a ZIP code so threatening?

      • Re:FINALLY... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by c0lo (1497653) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:06AM (#35170742)
        TFA:

        In her suit, Pineda claimed that a cashier had asked for her ZIP code during a purchase -- information that was recorded and later used, along with her name, to figure out her home address. Williams-Sonoma did this tapping a database that it uses to market products to customers and sell its compiled consumer information to other businesses.

        Note that it is still legal for a business to ask your ZIP code and possibly other information. What is made illegal:
        1. conditioning the sale on obtaining data which are not necessary for completing the sale transaction
        2. recoding a data which is not absolutely required for completing a sale transaction.

        At least this is how I interpret:

        It is not illegal in California for a retailer to see a person's ZIP code or address, the ruling notes: For instance, one can request a customer's driver's license to verify his or her identity. What makes it wrong is when a business records that information, according to the ruling, especially when the practice is "unnecessary to the sales transaction."

    • by garcia (6573)

      I don't get mad about it. I think that they should be free to ask just as I should be free to say, "no thank you," which I do every time. In most cases when you say this to them they punch in some default (Kohl's seems to do all 0s but other businesses just put in the city's zip code).

      When pressured I provide 90210. The only time I've had a problem was at a RadioShack store in OH during college when I was trying to buy batteries. The dude asked for my zip code and I went through the spiel and then he laid i

  • While that makes sense in theory, merchants do have the right to verify the identity of a customer attempting to use a credit card. Won't they just request to see a driver's license instead? Then they would have access to much more personal information than just a zip code. I don't really see how this law ends up protecting anyone.
    • Does it really solve the problem to design a credit card that's insufficient for validating itself?
    • No, no they do not.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by way2trivial (601132) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:44AM (#35170608) Homepage Journal

      read an actual merchant agreement some time
      (the one between the business and visa)

      merchants are FORBIDDEN to ask for ID as a condition of using a credit card...

      if the signature is good, and the card is present, you may NOT ask for ID just because its a credit card.

      if you require ID of all purchasers say, for a hotel, you can ask for ID.. but not just because it is a credit card.....

      doing so violates CC agreements.

      (merchants aren't even supposed to accept cards that say CID or SEE ID)

      if it is UNSIGNED, we are to request ID, then get the card holder to sign the card before accepting.

      (I have a merchant agreement, I've read it, and I've read the merchant operations PDF's at the major sites)

      • by way2trivial (601132) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:52AM (#35170650) Homepage Journal

        There are always exceptions, but for regular Brick & Mortar retailers, asking for ID is not inside the regs.
        I acknowledge, they are often ignored. here is the link-- the quote is from page 428

        http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/visa-international-operating-regulations-main.pdf [visa.com]
        Supplemental Identification - U.S. Region
        A U.S. Acquirer must not, as a regular practice, require a Merchant, and a Merchant must not require a
        Cardholder, to provide any supplementary Cardholder information as a condition for honoring a Visa
        Card or Visa Electron Card, unless it is required or permitted elsewhere in the U.S. Regional
        Operating Regulations. Such supplementary Cardholder information includes, but is not limited to:
          Social Security Number (or any part thereof)
          Fingerprint
          Home or business address or telephone number
          Driver's license number
          Photocopy of a driver's license
          Photocopy of the Visa Card or Visa Electron Card
          Other credit cards

      • by sodul (833177)

        I was at Target a 2-3 years back and the cashier requested the ID of the customer before me. He refused, the cashier called his manager that would not let the transaction go through without a valid id. The customer was furious and eventually showed his license even after arguing the signature was enough with his VISA credit card. I remember because the customer was really pushed back hard (yet eventually gave up) and Visa was running ads about how you do not need an idea with their card at the time (before

      • Weird.. How can they verify that it's your card if they can't ask for ID? At the very least, a PIN-code should be required.
        In Sweden, merchants are REQUIRED to ask for ID as a condition for using a credit/debit card unless they have a card terminal where you can verify with your PIN-code.. Of course this is often ignored in places with a lot of people like bars without card terminals and for minor purchases, then signing the receipt is all they want you to do.

        • It's in Visa's best interest that merchants not request ID; remember, credit card companies work very hard to make sure the merchants assume most of the risk. From Visa's perspective, they want customers to have an easy time making transactions, and not requiring ID makes it easier. They don't particularly care if someone rips off a merchant.

      • read an actual merchant agreement some time (the one between the business and visa)

        merchants are FORBIDDEN to ask for ID as a condition of using a credit card...

        if the signature is good, and the card is present, you may NOT ask for ID just because its a credit card.

        if you require ID of all purchasers say, for a hotel, you can ask for ID.. but not just because it is a credit card.....

        doing so violates CC agreements.

        (merchants aren't even supposed to accept cards that say CID or SEE ID)

        if it is UNSIGNED, we are to request ID, then get the card holder to sign the card before accepting.

        (I have a merchant agreement, I've read it, and I've read the merchant operations PDF's at the major sites)

        Keep in mind that I said they have the right to "verify identity" not ask for I.D. My point is simply that most merchants will ask customers for I.D. regardless of what the merchant agreement says. Once the privacy balance is shifted in favor of crooks and those who make a living from fraudulent activity, it won't take long for businesses to stop accepting credit cards. It would make much more sense to me to focus on creating legislation aimed at those who improperly use or fail to secure personal data.

    • Verifying that the name and/or photo on an ID card matches the credit card is quite different than the cashier taking the ID and recording information, I'm sure that most people can tell the difference.

      And yes, while merchants do have the right to verify the identity of a customer using a credit card, the store asking for the zip code had nothing to do with that, and a zip code is hardly a secure verification at any rate.
    • merchants do have the right to verify the identity of a customer attempting to use a credit card.

      Do they? Why should they? The transaction is between the merchant and the credit card company. The identity of the person holding the card is irrelevant to the merchant. It is the responsibility of the credit card company and the person to whom the card was issued that only a valid person has access to use the card. Granted, the merchant may act on behalf of the credit card company to validate the user, however it really is none of the merchant's business.

      • by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:57AM (#35170696)

        Do they? Why should they? The transaction is between the merchant and the credit card company.

        You are exactly wrong. If a fraudulent purchase is made with a credit card and it is recognized and reversed, it is the merchant that takes the hit. Not the bank, not the customer, the merchant. They charge back the merchant the full amount of the purchase and then it is primarily up to the merchant to identify the suspect and prosecute the theft.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        merchants do have the right to verify the identity of a customer attempting to use a credit card.

        Do they? Why should they? The transaction is between the merchant and the credit card company. The identity of the person holding the card is irrelevant to the merchant. It is the responsibility of the credit card company and the person to whom the card was issued that only a valid person has access to use the card. Granted, the merchant may act on behalf of the credit card company to validate the user, however it really is none of the merchant's business.

        It is in the merchant's best interest to ensure that the person who is presenting the card is authorized to do so (if the transaction is not authorized, guess who gets stuck with the bill... the merchant not only loses the money from the sale and transaction fees and the loss of the goods, but is usually also charged an additional fee for the chargeback). One way of doing that is by requiring "something you know" (i.e. The zip code for credit transactions, the PIN for debit transactions). This goes along

        • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:58AM (#35170978) Homepage

          Your zip code is a very poor choice for authentication.

          Stores ask for your zip code because they're interested in customer demographics, not authentication.

        • by Mitsoid (837831)

          Yes it's a slippery situation:

          They can not , according to the cardholder agreement, require you to present a photo ID to verify your identity.

          They are responsible for any theft made (including fraud purchases)

          However, a business -- as a private entity -- can decline to sell you product because you do not look like a "Melissa Doe" as a 35 year old man

          So visa doesn't require ID be shown, but businesses still have their own right to decline a sale... kinda.. and not much you can do about it -- Visa won't penal

    • by techwreck (1992598) on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:56AM (#35170686) Homepage
      As a business owner, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the day I am unable to validate the identity of a card holder and protect myself against fraud will be the day I stop accepting credit cards. While some of you think that fraud only falls on the shoulders of the credit card company, it is often the merchant that ends up on the losing end. Instead of restricting the ability of a merchant to request personal information, the legislation should be designed to penalize those who improperly use that information such as the company cited in the case above.
      • by Malc (1751) on Friday February 11, 2011 @04:37AM (#35171570)

        Why is fraud such a problem in the US? Is it because credit card companies are lax with their security? I'm being devil's advocate a little here because I have been a victim of fraud an identity theft in N. American, and now having moved to Europe, I see how pathetic standards and security is in N. America.

        It's a pain in the arse visiting the US and not being able to use my credit card easily to fill up my rental car because the pump requires a zip code to accept the card. Nowhere else I've been does this. Why?

    • by c0lo (1497653) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:13AM (#35170772)
      TFA

      It is not illegal in California for a retailer to see a person's ZIP code or address, the ruling notes: For instance, one can request a customer's driver's license to verify his or her identity. What makes it wrong is when a business records that information, according to the ruling, especially when the practice is "unnecessary to the sales transaction."

      Meaning (on the line of "what can possibly go wrong" and other /. memes):
      1. show them the CC and the driver license if they request it.
      2. Make sure their CCTV camera records it
      3. sue them for recoding the data (if you can prove the CCTV is working and they are maintaining the recordings)
      4. profit

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      While that makes sense in theory, merchants do have the right to verify the identity of a customer attempting to use a credit card. Won't they just request to see a driver's license instead? Then they would have access to much more personal information than just a zip code. I don't really see how this law ends up protecting anyone.

      No they don't have the right, and in fact is usually goes against the credit card merchant agreement. http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/Alert-FS15.htm [privacyrights.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 11, 2011 @12:36AM (#35170548)

    I have noticed many gas stations around here now require you to enter your zip code when you pay at the pump. I assume it's an extra validation against the zip code on your credit card.

  • I'm not sure I like this. In california I've had the pumps at gas station ask for my zip code rather than my PIN. At some stations I think I'd prefer to only provide a zip code.
  • while at a "pay at the pump" transaction I dont mind giving my zip to verify my ability to use the card, the zip outside of that type of transaction is bogus!. you have no right to it.

    Now then my favorite trick is when a cashier asks for my zip during a face to face transaction where the info is strictly customer base tracking, I enjoy using zip code 99501. Yes, thats the zip for Anchorage, AK. I'm in Indiana. try to figure THAT out mister statistics man...

    • You actually think they're trying to track you with your zip code? It's for the same damn purpose of the pumps. You're probably confusing the fuck out of your credit card company giving them 99501.

  • gas pumps currently use the zip to verify it's your card... hope they still allow that...
    • I don't understand this. Don't you have PINs in the states?

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      gas pumps currently use the zip to verify it's your card...

      No they don't. The zipcode is never sent to the credit card company. It's collect for demographics. Try putting in a bogus zip if you don't believe me.

      • Re:gas pumps (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dlgeek (1065796) on Friday February 11, 2011 @03:12AM (#35171260)
        I have - right after a move, I forgot whether or not I had updated that particular card and guessed wrong. The machine bounced the card and locked into a "See attendant to complete transaction" mode. I drove up to the next machine and swapped cards just to be sure.
  • The government doesn't when it comes to real numbers like unemployment or how many die in war or how they died. Companies lie about earnings all the time and if unlucky get caught and pay a fine. But none of these people including politicians seems to do time for it. My guess is if people just gave out bogus information for things like where they live, or how old they are, then all that info and meta info becomes a problem and the companies will stop using it against people.
  • Interesting, if upheld, this could push the PCI DSS Council to add Zip to the list of non public information that must be encrypted.

    And that would effectively mandates QSA's find every gas station in California in violation of the next wave of PCI DSS criteria.

    The expense of coding testing, QA'ing, promoting encryption on Zip (at rest and in transmission) could be high as compared the moderate to minor risk that companies are stalking their customers using Gas Station data.

  • Asking for a ZIP code IS a legitimate way of verifying a card isn't stolen. Probably not the best method, but it's a common one in the wild.

    It's also a legitimate way for the store to say "Hey, we got a lot of customers coming in from two towns over to shop here. Maybe that'd be a smart place to build our next store."

  • Treating symptoms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GuldKalle (1065310) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:25AM (#35170820)

    Sounds to me like the law is only treating symptoms. How about a law that makes it illegal to sell customer info without their express written consent?

  • If they wanna pay w/ a credit card then we need a zip; pay with cash, no zip code required.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday February 11, 2011 @01:30AM (#35170848) Homepage

    When I'm paying in person with a credit card and a retailer asks me to provide my zip code, all I do is say "I'd rather not." Been doing it since the early 80's, when the practice first started. It's almost never a big deal. Very rarely (maybe once in several years) the cashier complains and I say that my zip code is 12345. They just want something they can punch in so they don't get in trouble with their manager.

    Cashiers at some bricks-and-mortar retailers ask for a zip code even when I'm paying cash. I just give them a quizzical look and say, "Oh, I'm paying cash."

    • Very rarely (maybe once in several years) the cashier complains and I say that my zip code is 12345.

      Nothing wrong with saying 12345. It is an actual zip code for Schenectady, NY. Imagine how they feel when people keep telling them their zip code is fake :)

    • Re:"I'd rather not." (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Techman83 (949264) on Friday February 11, 2011 @02:03AM (#35171010)
      I know one of the stores here in Australia, use the Zip (Post Code here) to decide whether it's worthwhile building stores in new areas. If enough people are willing to travel 50ks to shop there, then more will shop local if it's available.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:05AM (#35171870) Journal

    It is not illegal in California for a retailer to see a person's ZIP code or address, the ruling notes: For instance, one can request a customer's driver's license to verify his or her identity. What makes it wrong is when a business records that information, according to the ruling, especially when the practice is "unnecessary to the sales transaction."

    So, ASKING for the zip code itself was not wrong, using it for marketing was the wrong bit. Had they kept the zip purely for the transaction (as proof for later challenges making it necessary for the sales transaction) and NOT used it for marketing, then everything would have been okay.

    Once again, slashdot fails to read the full article and jumps all over the place with its conclusions.

    The company would have been just as wrong if they had used their credit card information they get back from the CC company for marketing purposes. This is about using information from one set of data in another set of data without permission being given.

    And it is ALSO okay for shops to ask you for your zip code for marketing purposes as long as it is clear that is what it is for. You can just say no. In Holland at least companies put up a sign telling you what the request is for.

  • by syntap (242090) on Friday February 11, 2011 @09:22AM (#35172860)

    Whenever I was asked for info, I would just say "cash" and they knew what to do and stop asking questions. If it is a credit card terminal then I know to plug in my real zip code. If I am pressed for my zip code when the transaction starts with the cashier, as a teen in the late 80's I always just give them 90210 and they don't bat an eye.

    If they are asking for my data without my permission, I don't really see a problem with throwing a few data spikes in their data harvest.

    Microcenter is another one of these that demands addresses. You can sometimes see the screen they are working on, just tell them your last name is "Jones" and when several pop up say you recently moved and tell them "yeah, the third one on the list there is me".

    There is no legal requirement to be truthful with these quizzes, have fun with them!

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