Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

J. Crew Sued Over Data Collection at Register

J.CrewThree consumers from California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island just filed a lawsuit against J. Crew, the preppy fashion retailer, for alleged privacy violations the company engaged in while they were trying to make purchases using their credit cards.

In particular, when checking out, the cashier is said to have asked each of them for their email address or phone number so they can be provided with a receipt. They explained that the company no longer gives out printed paper sales receipts. If the consumer refuses, shoppers are allegedly told they would have to speak to a manager because there was no way to give then a receipt in the store. [Apparently in some cases, there was actually a hidden receipt printer available.]

The problem with J. Crew’s policy is that each of these states has a specific consumer privacy protection statute that prevents merchants from requesting personal identification information from credit card customers as a perceived condition to processing credit card transactions.


For example, in Massachusetts the law provides:

No person, firm, partnership, corporation or other business entity that accepts a credit card for a business transaction shall write, cause to be written or require that a credit card holder write personal identification information, not required by the credit card issuer, on the credit card transaction form.

Obviously, this law was written when credit card transaction forms were common. Today, transactions are recorded electronically through the cash register and PIN pad.

The consumers further allege that the requirement of giving an email or phone number was a pretext to send them advertising and to collect and use their information in databases. In fact, one of the plaintiffs said she was sent almost daily emails from J. Crew after her purchase amounting to some 238 advertisements in just a six month period.

The lawyers representing the consumers allege violations of state purchase privacy laws. Oddly, the complaints do not allege violations of state unfair or deceptive acts and practices regulations.

So what do you think? Should retailers be allowed to require that you provide personal information in order to get a receipt? Do you feel this is a privacy invasion?

Share this story:
All comments are reviewed before being published, and may be edited. Comments that are off-topic, contain personal attacks, are political, or are otherwise inappropriate will be deleted.

24 thoughts on “J. Crew Sued Over Data Collection at Register”

  1. No. There is no reason any additional information should be required. This is happening more and more in smaller shops, as well.

  2. Giving an email and/or phone # is tantamount to agreeing for spam calls/texts/email. Stopping unwanted ads is difficult as many retailers ignore the STOP request.

  3. I have absolutely no qualms waiting for the store manager to demand the receipt. If for any reason that does not work out, I will cancel the purchase and tell two people who tell two people.

  4. I just provide a “phony” phone number for these transactions because the person at the register is probably already having a bad day and doesn’t need to be the defender of a company data-mining policy.

    • But then… you don’t get your receipt and can’t return any of the items. Seems like an unfair practice on their part, basically forcing you to avoid receiving your receipt.

  5. I don’t believe any information should be required in order to be a bill of sale or receipt for something you purchase in a regular business transaction. There should always be a paper option even if that is the cashier filling out a form with the information from your purchase.

  6. Dolls Kill also does this practice.

    I asked the sales person why she needed my email, and she said she could not complete the purchase without it. She promised I would not get too much email.

    By the time we got home, I had at least 10 emails from them, subscribed to so many different lists, it was infuriating.

    This store takes advantage of teenagers, in particular.

  7. I agree with everything that the other commenters have said. Stores should not be allowed to collect private information as a condition of purchase, via credit card or other FOP. I especially laughed over what Rosemarie said below – cancel the purchase and tell a bunch of folks. J Crew should know that a the loudest voice is usually the one with a complaint, not the one with a compliment on service!

  8. I am old-fashioned in that I want my paper receipt, and I shouldn’t have to do anything other than hold out my hand or ask if the cashier forgets. The frustrating issue to me at this time is that so many places ask if you want the receipt. If they don’t offer, I ask for it. No plausible reason exists to require any personal information to receive a receipt.

    I track my expenditures and use spreadsheets so I know exactly what I have in my accounts – I am 75 and on a fixed income. I check my receipts before I ever leave a store. If a mistake has been made, I ask to have it corrected right then. The fact that I can look at my bank statement after the fact is beside the point.

    • Why does it frustrate you that so many places ask you if you want the receipt? You’ve said you DO want the receipt! (?)

  9. While I agree with the other commenters who say “No”, I would like to point out that a credit card purchase almost immediately registers on the card issuer’s website. Knowing this, I often forego taking a printed receipt when given that option. I have a notification set up on my issuing bank’s website, and I get both a text and an email within seconds after the merchant charges my card.


  11. The store does not require my email to validate my card. That’s been done when The Machine accepts my card. If they want to check my photo ID, that’s good. I understand the purpose of asking for my zip code. But the business does not require my email or mail address for any other valid purpose and to ask for such is an invasion of my privacy. If I found myself in that position, I would immediately cancel the sale and vow to never darken their door again, vocally and loudly. BTW, which states other than Massachusetts have such a law? I think we’d all like to know.

  12. When stores ask me if I want to receive a receipt via email or text I decline and take the paper receipt only. I don’t want them to have any more information on me than necessary. Some of them already have my contact information because I have accounts online with them anyway but many don’t. And the point is the buyer should get a paper receipt without providing any information.

  13. If a business owner is required by state laws to provide the buyer with a tax invoice and/or receipt and is not exempt from this due to the fact that it can be provided by electronic means such as a cell phone or an e-mail address, then the tax authorities are the ones who need to intervene immediately. As far as I understand, every business owner is required to book a receipt and if he does not do so, he is a tax delinquent

  14. This should be illegal. Just another crass attempt to get info to sell to other marketers, and create additional, instant spam. The buyer who accepted this, when told they wouldn’t get “too much” spam, should have known better.

  15. No, to the first question! Yes, to the second!

    I would demand a paper receipt or they could cancel the purchase!

  16. Way back when, Radio Shack (remember them?) had a battery club where they gave you a free battery. All you had to do was fill out a card with your name and address. There was no requirement to purchase anything.

    One time I I hurriedly filled out the card and misspelled my last name. I got many offers from various companies for goods and services with the incorrect last name.

    So, this information collecting and sale of said information has been going on for a long time.

  17. As more and more potential customers adopt various technologies, businesses reach a tipping point where they’re comfortable losing the patronage of anyone who hasn’t adopted the technology.

    Hence the number of companies being unable to support customers who don’t have an email address, web access, or a smartphone. J Crew is one example, and we’ve also seen this with digital coupons. I encounter this sort of problem several times a month with some company or another. The transition to cashless businesses is also in progress, which will disenfranchise even more customers.

    Last year I went to a restaurant and there was a wait list for a table. They refused to put my name on the wait list unless I gave them my mobile number. We ate elsewhere.

    We’re liable to wind up in a world where 95% of the population has no problems doing day-to-day business, but the 5% who are either privacy-conscious or who don’t have financial resources will find life outrageously difficult.

Comments are closed.