The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Retailers demanding ID, tracking returns 

The October 18, 2004 edition of Fortune Magazine points to an increasing practice of retailers demanding ID when customers return products. This has led to a flurry of complaints to the Canadian Privacy Commissioner (see "New Privacy Law Sprouts Forest of Complaints"). But the Fortune article refers to a new service that tracks shopping patters and the returns of individual customers. If you have a pattern of "excessive returns", your return will be declined.

FORTUNE - Magazine - Sorry, Your Return Is No Good Here:

"Walking through the mall a couple of weeks ago, Hayden Cobb, a 32-year-old systems engineer at Lockheed Martin, couldn't resist a few impulse buys. But after realizing that all his crisp new shirts didn't fit right, he headed back to the Express store near Atlanta, receipt in hand. The clerk asked for his driver's license, swiped it, and then handed him a small slip of paper that read 'Return Declined.' 'I was dumbfounded,' he says.

Cobb is just one of the many customers who are finding that returning merchandise isn't as easy as it used to be. Retailers including Express, the Limited, and the Sports Authority have begun tracking consumer return and exchange habits to help curb the $16 billion that stores lose in 'return fraud' each year. All the companies mentioned have enlisted California-based Return Exchange, a five-year-old for-profit company that stores customer ID and payment information and tracks shopping behavior, looking for patterns of fraudulent or excessive returns. The system also aimsto prevent 'wardrobing,' in which people (women in particular) buy clothes, wear them to a party, and return them the next day. 'We're not accusing you of being a thief,' says King Rogers, a consultant who advises Express on security matters. 'We're suggesting that you're not a profitable customer.' While stores have long reserved the right to refuse returns, shopper tracking has privacy watchdogs like Jordana Beebe of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse alarmed (she's particularly worried that data across stores may eventually be aggregated)... "


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