This one bugs me, a lot. Within weeks of the California Supreme Court ruling that stores could not ask for your zip code during a purchase, Best Buy now wants to track returns with a state-issued form of identification.
It’s clear why they want to do this; they want to ban customers who return too much stuff. However, there is a secondary motive; they want to track customer data with a serial number: your personal serial number.
What is unreasonable, is turning state-issued forms of identification into a customer tracking tool. Presently, we use state IDs to track credit data, for pre-sale long-term commitments. Your driver’s license or state ID is usually run when you buy a cell phone (or your social security number, same idea).
However, to use this for returns makes me much more unsettled. Nobody would want to have their driver’s license swiped when purchasing something sans long term commitment, so why be okay with that at the point of a return?
I have a Reward Zone Card (Premier Silver VIP standing, no less). Best Buy already tracks my every purchase, coupon, redemption, and yes, return. I do this in exchange for a 1.25% discount on purchases (in the form of gift card rebates). It’s a fair exchange, in my opinion. It also gives me convenience; if I forget a receipt, I don’t have to remember how I paid for the item, I just have to pull out my Reward Zone card. Why? Because Best Buy is keeping tabs on me, and I’m letting them do that.
Here, Best Buy is offering me nothing for handing over my private information, other than to tell me that if I don’t, I won’t be allowed to return the item. Now Best Buy is keeping tabs on me, or I don’t get to return items. Big Best Buy Brother is watching, and if you don’t like that it’s mandatory, you don’t have to shop there. Well, I don’t like it one bit.
Returning an item that was purchased before this policy was, needless to say, unpleasant. It took a manager, and two re-runs of the policy, to remind them that I was grandfathered into not having to show my ID. I was told twice that this was a one-time exception.
My advice: If you have to buy something at Best Buy, use your passport upon returning the item. Best Buy will not be able to track Passport ID numbers the same way they track driver’s licenses or social security cards.
I know one thing’s for sure… I’m a lot less likely to hit Premier Silver status on my Reward Zone card next year. I may lose 45 day return periods, I may pay a little bit more buying from Fry’s or Micro Center… or even Wal-mart, but I will keep my identity a lot more secure, and a lot less tracked.
If someone wants your ID, you should make sure there’s a darn good reason, or else you’re helping to contribute to the downfall of privacy, and the rise of National ID and National Serial Numbers for us all.