Apple Demands ID With Credit Card Purchases, Violates Merchant Agreement

We received the following strangely awesome, if a bit strange, letter from a consumer who was not allowed to purchase something at the Apple store because he would not show ID. It was sent to Steve Jobs and William Rhodes (of Citibank.) Let’s listen in:

Mr Jobs, and Mr Rhodes,

The Merchant, Apple Inc., at Stonestown Galleria Required California ID as a condition to accepting my Credit Card as payment.

From previous experiences, I have learned that many occasions have occurred where the consumer’s identity becomes compromised because merchant’s ask for ID and the unknowing consumer gives his ID, which includes his home address and DL#. That is why Merchant’s such as VISA/MC have policies that protect consumer’s rights. If your Credit Card is signed it is valid, and the Merchant must not require customer’s to provide ID as a condition of purchase. My Concern is my personal security and other’s that shop at Apple Store.

Cardholder ID
Although Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID . Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures. Laws in several states also make it illegal for merchants to write a cardholder’s personal information, such as an address or phone number, on a sales receipt. P. 29, Visa Merchant Card Acceptance Policy

I gave the merchant at 3251 20th Avenue, Space 235, San Francisco, Ca, 94132 both my Citibank Visa and Citibank Mastercard and the merchant refused to accept them both as payment because I refused to provide them with my Driver’s License. Also from previous experience I know that they record your DL# for every Credit Card transaction. Why does Starbucks and other retailers train their employee’s not to ask for ID and Apple Inc has entire stores who don’t know what a merchant policy is?

The reason that I provided both my Mastercard and VISA is because they both have similar policies, and Mastercard even has a webpage to submit policy obstructions to.

I entered the store and proceeded to an employee to make my purchase, the employee asks for ID and because I was in a hurry I showed him my University ID so I could get done with it. In and out. Well he says sorry I need to see California ID, and I responded, “I am sorry you are not getting that, My Mastercard is signed and that is all you need.” He said he couldn’t process my transaction so I gave him my VISA card and he still said no. I asked him for his manager because I was sure that Apple Inc., informs their Sales Manager’s about Merchant policies and laws. Well Paul [redacted] comes back and isn’t any help and tells me that he won’t accept my cards with out proper identification for my security and protection. I tell him I’m doing fine and my cards are signed and verified. He can call the bank if he wants to verify anything. He doesn’t process my transaction and I take his information.

When you buy online, or visit a restaurant.. A big sign for ID verification isn’t showing up anywhere because of merchant agreements. The fact that he didn’t take his time to show me some corporate policy on this and just let me leave unsatisfied after he gave me his business card was very disappointing. Many companies either don’t have written ID Request policies or have written policies that employee’s must not require ID or ask for ID at POS. The fact that I know they record DL#s on the little hand held they have for every credit card transaction made me wonder if everyone else knew they were willingly handing over their personal information. I like to use my Credit Card for all the transactions I do because of the protection I get from Citibank, Sure I had cash but that is beyond my purpose.

I called 1-800-VISA-911 immediately and they forwarded me to my card issuer. After the run around Citibank told me to first to call Visa, that the merchant had the right to refuse my card, and then they finally escalated me because I wanted an explanation as to why they didn’t want my business. Finally a Rep (Roxanne), said she would highlight my agreement in the correct places so I could see that the merchant could reject my cards. Wow, UNBELIEVABLE! Prior experiences with Citibank will leave me waiting for that response indefinitely, especially because I know what the merchant agreement says.

California Civil Code 1747.08 States that the merchant isn’t prohibited from asking for ID by law, which bluntly says CA doesn’t care if they ask/don’t ask for ID, as long as they follow certain guidelines if they do. Unfortunately these merchant’s are in Agreement’s with VISA/MC not to ask for ID. Also this Merchant periodically takes down individuals DL# with every CC transaction at their locations. They broke the merchant policy and were going to break the California civil code for every transaction in the store that is taking place with a credit card.

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (c), no person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation that accepts credit cards for the transaction of business shall do any of the following:

(1) Request, or require as a condition to accepting the credit card as payment in full or in part for goods or services, the cardholder to write any personal identification information upon the credit card transaction form or otherwise.
(b ) For purposes of this section “personal identification information,” means information concerning the cardholder, other than information set forth on the credit card, and including, but not limited to, the cardholder’s address and telephone number.
(d) This section does not prohibit any person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation from requiring the cardholder, as a condition to accepting the credit card as payment in full or in part for goods or services, to provide reasonable forms of positive identification, which may include a driver’s license or a California state identification card, or where one of these is not available, another form of photo identification, provided that none of the information contained thereon is written or recorded on the credit card transaction form or otherwise. If the cardholder pays for the transaction with a credit card number and does not make the credit card available upon request to verify the number, the cardholder’s driver’s license number or identification card number may be recorded on the credit card transaction form or otherwise.
(e) Any person who violates this section shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for the first violation and one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each subsequent violation, to be assessed and collected in a civil action brought by the person paying with a credit card, by the Attorney General, or by the district attorney or city attorney of the county or city in which the violation occurred. However, no civil penalty shall be assessed for a violation of this section if the defendant shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error made notwithstanding the defendant’s maintenance of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid that error. When collected, the civil penalty shall be payable, as appropriate, to the person paying with a credit card who brought the action, or to the general fund of whichever governmental entity brought the action to assess the civil penalty.

I would like to bring to the merchant’s, card issuer’s, network managers, and fellow consumer’s attention that rules and regulations to protect the consumer’s are not being executed at the reported Apple Store, and at many merchants across the U.S., and that many bank Customer Service Reps, not limited to Citibank, do not have the correct procedure or knowledge on handle these incidents of privacy. I would like to request that some communication is made with the location mentioned to make sure they don’t ask for ID. I really need to buy something.

Thank you,


This letter sorta makes us happy. Are Apple stores really recording information in violation of California law? Anyone?

MasterCard Merchant Manual (PDF) [Mastercard]
Paying by Credit Card or Check: What Can Merchants Ask? [Privacy Rights Clearinghouse]