UPDATE: Home Depot has confirmed that it does use credit card info to track customers.
Once again, a major retailer seems to be crossing the line between offering seamless service and invasion of privacy, apparently using customers’ credit card numbers to look up their e-mail addresses in order to market to them.
Consumerist reader A.C. recently purchased a drill at his local Home Depot store and paid using his credit card.
And then today, he checks his e-mail and sees the above message asking him to rate and review the drill on HomeDepot.com.
A.C. says he never even looked at the drill on the Home Depot website. Furthermore, he claims he doesn’t even have an account on HomeDepot.com. He did purchase a freezer through the website a year ago, but he did so as a guest.
“I can only conclude that Home Depot held my credit card information in one of their internal systems without my authorization, linked it to the e-mail address I used on the one-time purchase without my authorization, and is now watching what I buy in their store using the card so that I can build up their rating database and presumably so they can target their advertising to me.”
This sounds an awful lot like the story we ran recently about the Walmart customer who purchased some personal lubricant and condoms at the store and then began getting e-mails suggesting other lubes he might enjoy.
We’re reaching out to Home Depot to see if they have an explanation for how it could — and why it would — track down an in-store customer’s e-mail address in this fashion. If they give us a response, we will update.
UPDATE: Another Consumerist reader says the same thing ended up happening to her after making an in-store purchase at Home Depot. She e-mailed the company and received this by way of an explanation:
“We obtained your email when you provided it during a previous online purchase, and that is connected to a reference number, not your credit card number.”
The reader has no idea, and received no explanation of, what this reference number is. “And how is it connected to something I buy at the store, if it’s not using my credit card number to associate the two?” she asks. “Worst of all, it’s using a credit card number my husband and I share to email me.”