Consumer advocacy groups up in arms over 'return profiles'

Aug. 19, 2013

Although retailers claim it's a move to fight fraud, the tracking of customer returns is yet another retail technology coming under fire from consumers.

A recent story in The Detroit News explained that the process of creating "return profiles" is common among retailers such as Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Victoria's Secret, Home Depot and Nike.

Returns can be monitored at stores and then outsourced to third-party companies that create the return profile, which catalogs and analyzes the customer's return habits.

One company that offers return tracking services is the Irvine, Calif.-based The Retail Equation, which said it doesn't share information in the profiles it creates with outside parties or with other stores.

But consumer advocates still are not pleased with the process.

"There should be no secret databases. That's a basic rule of privacy practices," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, in the article. "Consumers should know that information is being collected about them."

Read more about retail technology.

Topics: Consumer Behavior , Customer Service , Technology

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