Sunglass Hut = The New DMV

Why does Radio Shack need your phone number to sell you a pair of batteries? It’s unknowable. Or, actually, it isn’t — they’re data-mining you so they can sell it to third-parties or put together marketing statistics.

Similarly, why does Sunglass Hut need your date of birth, your complete medical history, your complete criminal record and any other details they can dream up just to sell you a pair of Ray Bans? Moreover, why will they refuse to sell you the Ray Bans when you categorically deny to become yet another ID code in their database of random, impertinent information?

It’s unknowable! Or, more likely, isn’t. James M’s email about his recent attempt to purchase from Sunglass Hut, after the jump.

Not as big as exploding batteries but still irksome.

Needed new sunglasses so where would any red-blooded American consumer go – sunglass hut. All was well as I went when the store opened and was able to find the perfect pair of sunglasses. Went to pay and was told by the manager (who was the only one there) I had to fill out a form that included Date of Birth and all the other info that DMV needs to issue a license. I asked why they needed this info and was told that they had to put it into the computer. I told the manager I would pass and just pay for the glasses. He outright refused to sell me glasses without filling out his little form. Having been the victim of 3 data breaches in the last 6 months I am leery about anything like filling out forms for no discernable purpose. I leave without sunglasses – he absolutely will not sell them.

I email customer service – no response.

I call corporate – the “we’ll get back to you line”.

I firmly believe that all we as consumers can do when faced with something like this is vote with our money. Sunglass Hut and Sears (who are affiliated) have just lost a customer. It is just a drop in the barrel but my wife and I buy a pair of sunglasses each every year. As a matter of fact we had just bought my wife a pair two weeks earlier at the same location without having to fill out this form. (Another thing that made me suspicious)

Long story short:

Sunglass Hut loses $300 a year

Sears loses vastly more.

I still buy what I want from other vendors who understand how to treat a customer.

Comments

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  1. SharkJumper says:

    Did he say that you had to fill it out correctly?

  2. xian says:

    I wouldn’t say that Sears is “affiliated” with Sunglass Hut. Sunglass Hut is owned by Luxottica, the Italian behemoth that also owns LensCrafters and manufactures a lot of the popular frames out on the market. Sears may subcontract their optical business to a Luxottica subsidiary (I do not know this for sure), but Sears may be getting an unduly bad wrap from all this.

  3. John Stracke says:

    If you’re paying by credit card, I’m pretty sure they can’t require any extra data.

  4. John Stracke says:

    Oh, and Radio Shack doesn’t ask for phone number any more, just ZIP code.

  5. robyns says:

    Last weekend I took my teenage sister shopping and we had a similar experience at the teen girl clothing store Delia’s…they were asking people for their name, email, and some other info I felt was inappropriate. I was waiting for them to ask for social security #’s and PIN’s! My sis just made up a name and email, but it seems like stores that target younger teens are really taking advantage of that particular market if they ask for all of that personal info and teens think that is okay!

  6. Yaotl says:

    I haven’t had to give anything to Radio Shack in quite some time. That’s from at least 3 of them in NYC.

  7. Magister says:

    Umm, they figure if you are willing to spend that much on just freaking sun glasses, you are gullible enough to fall for some cold calls due to the data mining they can do with your info.

  8. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    I just buy my sunglasses from a guy with a cart downtown by all the sausage vendors. You get 2 sets of glasses for $20 and he never asks for any personally identifiable information.

  9. Paul D says:

    Thank you for your sunglass purchase

    Mr. Dee Snuts
    54321 Blastoff Rd.
    Anytown, AK
    90210

    555-867-5309

    DOB: 12/12/12

    It’s that simple.

  10. Paul D says:

    And what Magister said.

    I haven’t paid more than $10 for sunglasses in a LONG time.

  11. etinterrapax says:

    Add me to the cheap sunglasses camp. You can get excellent quality, designer sunglasses for practically nothing at Marshall’s. I can’t afford to spend that much on something that gets so much use that I may need to replace them every year.

    I mean, the complaint about the info request is valid, but if Sunglass Hut has stayed in business selling wildly overpriced merchandise for which demand varies according to the vagaries of fashion, it’s going to be hard to break them with a single-consumer boycott.

  12. Triteon says:

    To add to the point brought by etinterrapax– there is a burgeoning generation who have grown accustomed to these “requests” for information, especially when it comes to asking for an email address in order to receive “special offers”. It’s an easy transition from email, to name, to phone, to street address.
    If even just several thousand customers of Sunglass Cack, Radio Cack, etc. started saying no they may listen. Fighting one at a time is good for our individual souls, but helps little for the collective.
    Things Remembered did this to me when I went to have a flask engraved– I said no, they said OK. But I did give them a retinal eye scan.

  13. Paul D says:

    But I did give them a retinal eye scan.

    Commonly known as the “stink eye”.

    :)

  14. jb says:

    Why should you even have to go as far as filling out fake information?
    I want product, I give you moneys, you give me product. You want to ask
    for data, fine, but if I say no, you’re really not going to sell me a
    frickin’ pair of sunglasses? You shouldn’t have to go through the
    trouble of saying anything more than, “no thanks, I’ll just take the
    glasses” at that point. T

  15. MattyMatt says:

    Could this have anything to do with the Department of Homeland Security? No, seriously. A friend who works at LensCrafters told me that Patriot Act regulations force them to maintain tons of medical records. Why does the gov’t need to know my eyeglasses prescription? Who knows. But since Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters are the same company, maybe they’re both affected by gov’t rules about to maintaining records on customers.

  16. Morton Fox says:

    Where to begin? First, I find it hard to believe that any red-blooded American consumer would automatically go to an expensive store for wildly-overpriced $150 sunglasses. What kind of extravagant, overspending, home-equity-tapping, credit-card-maxing society have we become?

    Anyway, I would ask the salesperson if the information is worth losing a sale. Usually though, most stores ask for a zip code and nothing more. So I just give them a zip code from any random town in the area.

  17. magic8ball says:

    Huh. I have had several places ask for my personal info (Toys R Us, the Gap) but they have never hassled me when I decline. I also have grocery store loyalty cards with no personal information linked to them, because I’m grouchylike that.

  18. Magister says:

    I bought a 12 pack of safety sunglasses from Sam’s Club for 24 bucks. Sure, half of them are but ugly. I use them for driving and as safety glasses in the yard or at the shooting range.

    I can’t understand why you would feel the need to dump so much money at a freaking kiosk in the middle of the mall. Guess you buy your jewerly at the next kiosk over right?

    Gimmie the gold chain with the nefrititi medallion… phat yo.

  19. misskaz says:

    Isn’t part of the Consumerist ethos that we should be able to spend our money however we damn well please? What’s with giving this guy a hard time for buying expensive sunglasses? He’s not complaining about the price, he’s complaining about an unnecessary and intrusive request for his personal information that should have nothing to do with their ability to complete a sale. How much he’s spending on the things has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    I have $15 sunglasses from Target, but I fully support this guy buying the expensive ones if that’s what he wants. Sheesh, people.

  20. I also have grocery store loyalty cards with no personal information linked to them, because I’m grouchylike that.

    I actually wouldn’t mind that if it meant that they would do things like, I don’t know, continue to stock the items I buy more of or more often. Instead they do the exact opposite: if an item becomes popular enough that they run out of it they’ll stop stocking it.

    So for a long time I’ve been doing most of my shopping at Publix. It takes two buses to get there but it takes two buses to get anywhere now so even that doesn’t matter as much as it used to.

  21. There is a difference between cheap, plastic $5 sunglasses you buy from a street vendor, and $130 for a pair of optical grade composite shades.

    Anyone with decent vision should test and compare one of each in bright sunlight.

    You can totally tell the difference.

    This coming from a convert who used to only wear cheapies. I had to take them off after a while because I would get eye strain and headaches.

    I can wear my Ray Bans all day, and see/feel fine.

  22. And you don’t even want to know what I have spent on a pair of jeans.

  23. Magister says:

    20 bucks or less at Sam’s Club right?

  24. Triteon says:

    Rectilinear Propagation– I’ve been told that those cards are often used to identify loss leaders, so the store is able to stock more profitable merchandise.
    My $15 Target sunglasses have served me well over the past 5 years.

  25. Smoking Pope says:

    “Why should you even have to go as far as filling out fake information?”

    Because it’s fun to think that some guy in a cube somewhere is thinking, “Wow, I didn’t know Oakleys were so popular with 104 year old transgender hemophiliacs from Transylvania!”

  26. mikelite says:

    I am right there with you Smoking Pope. I take way too much perverse geek pleasure out of giving these bastard places misinformation. I usually give out zip codes from the other side of the country. F them & their data mining.

  27. Demingite says:

    Another thing you can do: If a website forces you to accept a cookie for the purposes of tracking your behavior, open it up (as with Notepad) and edit it randomly here and there (e.g., moving various characters around). I have no problem ethically with that when a website forces an invasion of my privacy.

    I say never, ever, ever give out your phone number, address, email address, etc. — and certainly not birthdate!! — when you do not have to. Mining someone’s birthdate for a pair of sunglasses is crazy. I refuse to provide even a ZIP code, either, for a lot of reasons, including wanting to discourage these companies from pestering customers for uncompensated marketing data.

    Recently I was at a TJ Maxx store and the cashier was apparently asking every customer for their phone number. The woman in front of me just spit it out like well-trained Nazi soldier and the clerk {tap-tap-tap} types it into her register/computer. A sign in the check-out line claims customers will not be called for sales purposes. One thing the sign doesn’t mention is that when you give them your phone number, your phone number will be connected to the exact items you purchased, and at what exact time and place, and that information will be sold to databrokers who can make matches to your phone number in other databases. As a result, total strangers will have an enriched profile on you that can be used to send you your own custom set of junk mail — at best. The enriched profile otherwise presents an enormous risk for identify theft and all kinds of fraud at the expense of the profilee. I would not, and do not, trust any of the data companies, or retail companies such as TJ Maxx, to protect us. We only have to turn on the news to know that data breaches can and do occur with a certain regularity (ChoicePoint, AOL, stolen government laptops, etc.).

    If you want some eye-opening information on grocery store club cards, go to http://www.nocards.org (and hurray for Publix!).

  28. k2aunt says:

    There is a reason why we get your information at any Sunglass Hut .. We use it to send out 20 dollar coupons to wish you a happy birthday, happy holidays, etc … Plus our glasses our top quality with better materials, better technology, etc .. I have six different pairs of Sunglass Hut brand glasses that i use almost every day …

  29. k2aunt says:

    There is a reason why that any Sunglass Hut associate will ask for your address because it covers you for your manufacturer warranty and it also allows you to get coupons from the company to wish you a happy birthday, etc ..

    Plus our glasses are better then all the rest because they are better quality and better material ..

  30. k2aunt says:

    and the reason why I know all this is because I have worked for Luxottica Retail who owns SGH (SunGlass Hut) for over 5 years ..