RadioShack’s whole collecting-your-personal-data nonsense is old news, but it’s not just for purchases anymore. When Pete tried to take back some potentiometers he’d paid for the day before with cash, the clerk refused to give him any sort of refund—even a store credit—without Pete’s physical address.
The clerk told Pete it was for loss prevention. Wait, what? Pete had the parts in his hand, and the receipt that showed he’d paid cash for the parts the day before. You mean there’s no way RadioShack can track its purchases more precisely than matching up mailing addresses of anyone who walks into the store?
Here’s Pete’s email:
I have been avoiding RadioShack for ages ever since they started asking you for your street address and phone number just to sell you something. Once they stopped that practice, I reluctantly began returning to buy the odd piece for my electronics projects when I ran out of something and didn’t want to wait for an order to be shipped from on-line retailers. At any rate, I was out running errands the other weekend and saw a RadioShack, remembering that I needed a couple of potentiometers for an amplifier I was working on, I stopped to make my purchase. Wading through the overly “helpful” employees I found the electronic components area. But, I couldn’t remember the exact values of the potentiometers I needed so I grabbed all they had, paid with cash and was on my way.
I went back the following day to return the un-opened potentiometers that I did not need – receipt in hand. The process went smoothly until the clerk asked for my street address. I told him that I prefer not to give that information out. They claimed that it was for “loss prevention purposes”. I say “they” because another cashier came over, presumably for moral support to his co-worker. I told them to make an address up – no dice, claiming the “system” “will kick you out”. I tried to explain that I have the receipt and the un-opened parts and that I paid with cash so they would have no way of knowing that I was the person who originally purchased them anyway, no luck. I tried for store credit, same result.
I suppose, I could have made up an address, or even given them my real one but i didn’t feel like it. I shouldn’t have to be put through a personal information wringer to complete a legitimate transaction that happens every day at normal stores. I felt like I was being accused of theft or had to in some way, justify my actions.
I will say that the employees weren’t rude and they were just carrying out what they were trained to do. In the end, I took the ~$10 worth of potentiometers home with me, where they sit waiting for a new project.
Is this normal business practice, or is it time for RadioShack to get with the times for its data mining?
(Photo: Brave New Films)