Social Question

chyna's avatar

Why can't I purchase an item at a store without giving my name and phone number?

Asked by chyna (33907 points ) August 10th, 2012

Why do stores want my name, phone number and email address before I can pay for an item? This annoys me to no end. I just want to purchase a shower gel from Bath & Body and have to give all this information before they ring me up. Of course I use fictitious information, but why is this necessary? I end up scowling at the clerk, but of course it isn’t her fault she has to ask this stuff.

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24 Answers

Trillian's avatar

You don’t have to give it to them. I noticed that years ago at Toys-R-us. They want to sell your info and send you emails.

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, obviously you can purchase from the store without giving information about yourself. You’re already doing it.

The store does it because they want to be able to direct-mail you with sales information, special offers, coupons and the like – since you’re demonstrably a customer of theirs, after all – so that you’ll have a reason to come back sooner than you might otherwise.

All you have to say to the clerk, sweetly and politely, without scowling or having to lie, is: “I decline to answer. Thanks for asking.”

JLeslie's avatar

You probably can say you prefer not to give your name and they can skip over it. Although, you might hit a salesperson who doesn’t know how to skip over it, or doesn’t know she is allowed to do it.

Do you pay cash?

The storeis collecting data to market to you mosy likely. When I worked for Bloomingdale’s it happened automatically when people used theor charge cards. Any card, it didn’t have to be a Bloomies card. We knew all your purchases in the store, your return rate, and some other info.

gailcalled's avatar

Just say, “No, thanks.” No explanations or apologies necessary.

chyna's avatar

@JLeslie No I always pay with a debit card.
@gailcalled I say that I don’t want to give that info and they say they have to have it before they can ring me up. Of course, I can walk out but I do want the item.
Are they lying?

jca's avatar

I have never had to give a name. Stores sometimes ask for a phone number for if you have to return the item (either so they can look it up or know that you are you). Email address you can definitely refuse.

I have also been asked for zip code. I think they ask for that for advertising purposes, so they know where their demographic is from.

gailcalled's avatar

@Chyna: I have never had that problem so am not sure what to advise. If you have the energy, ask to speak with the supervisor.

Your name is on the debit card as is the name of the bank. That’s all they need to know to hunt you down like a dog if you have no money in the bank.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna I know very little about debit cards. They weren’t really in use much when I worked retail, and I have never used one. I would assume the card gives the same amount of information to the stores as a credit card. Your name is on the card anyway, isn’t it? Whenever I have been asked for a phone number they have been able to skip it if I didn’t want to give the info. But, I am pretty sure we had telephone numbers in our database at bloomies. I am trying to remember. It was surprising how much info they could pull from the credit cards. The info was not accessible at the register, we had to look it up on a separate computer.

I would think the question can be skipped, but some computer systems might not allow it? If there is a store you regularly shop at that does it, write customer service or call the 800 number and ask.

I don’t think they are lying, but they might be stupid. Or, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, ignorant.

wundayatta's avatar

They want to put you on their mailing list. Just say no. Pay cash if you really don’t want them to get any info.

cookieman's avatar

I also dislike this practice.

I always say, “I would, but I’m on the run from the law” – completely straight faced.

This is usually met with nervous laughter and they move on with the transaction.

chyna's avatar

@cprevite I will try that next time!

gailcalled's avatar

They are selling something. You are paying for it with legal tender. Period.

ftp901's avatar

@cprevite that’s hilarious – I’ll try that next time – or maybe “No, I’m in the witness protection program”

I also hate this practice and always say No – I’ve never been prevented from buying something for saying no. If I was, I would walk out and buy the item elsewhere to let them know what I think about their invasion of privacy.

Ponderer983's avatar

@cprevite I have said I am in witness protection a few times to not have to give it.

Fly's avatar

I always just say “I don’t give that information out,” and I have never been met with opposition. Bath & Body Works always asks, and I can tell you that it is definitely for mailing lists. I always decline there after having been put on their mailing list, and I have never had an issue.

mazingerz88's avatar

@chyna Because you’re too cute-?

augustlan's avatar

I always say, “I don’t give it out” regarding phone number & email address (unless I actually want to be on their mailing list.) No one has ever given me a hard time about it. If the clerk says they have to have it, ask to speak to the manager. That’s just crazy, and she probably just doesn’t know what she’s doing.

psyonicpanda's avatar

Sometimes its for Quality assrance, Ive worked in as a Customer Service superviser for a few years and sometimes the company uses this to send out promotional information and to find what people are buying so that they know what to keep in stock. It is not rude to say no thank you, just as long as your not rude about out it.

chyna's avatar

@mazingerz88 Ha, no, I think they ask everyone.

Kardamom's avatar

You definitely don’t have to give out that information. Just say, “I’m sorry, that’s my own personal information, I’m just here to buy the bath gel.” If they give you any grief, call the manager and let him/her know that you think those questions are an invasion of privacy and if they doesn’t want your business then you’ll shop elsewhere.

They know that most people will be to embarrassed to refuse answering, or too befuddled to make up a fake answer, so they take the info and use it to bombard you with un-wanted e-mails and phone calls, trying to get you to shop at their store MORE!

AshlynM's avatar

You absolutely DO NOT have to give this information. Tell them it’s against your religion.
Inform the clerk that the only reason they want your information is so they can annoy you and send you junk in the mail. If they deny it, then they really don’t have a clue what’s going on.

cazzie's avatar

The most information I will give out at a check out is a zip code. They used to do this just to see where their customers were coming from. It was impersonal enough, but yet provided some info to the store for marketing purposes.

NEVER give a retail store your personal information unless you are setting up a credit account with their credit department. They are simply building up direct marketing data bases. I think it is also worth noting that MOST countries I know of outside the US have made this practice illegal and have put in place ‘Privacy Laws’ which protect the individual from such predatory crap. No robo calls. I do get unsolicited phone calls from some sellers, but if I tell them ‘Take me off your calling list’ they have to do it or they can be fined.

If you are filling in a form to order something, there should be a privacy statement at the bottom or a choice of boxes to choose from that say, ‘Yes, you can contact me with special offers.’ or ‘Yes, you can share my information with interested 3rd parties.

The types of commercial laws that protect consumers in the US is GREATLY lagging behind because of corporate sponsorship of legislation, lobbyists, and, frankly, corporate sponsorship of legislators, at State and Federal levels. See, if you don’t take an active part in a democracy, the jackals will eat at your dining table.

augustlan's avatar

One reason they ask for your zip code when you’re using a credit card is that sometimes it is required by the credit card company (or maybe the verification company?) to prove the card belongs to you. Fraud prevention, in other words. So I do give my zip when asked.

cazzie's avatar

@augustlan They were asking me this when I paid cash. Also, my credit card is from no ‘zip code’ they would ever be aware of.

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