Target's Online Spider Web
Have you looked in the mirror recently? We have. It’s not a pretty sight, people. After serious consultation with our spouses we went digging for the hair cutting shears and buzzers only to realize we had none! Amazon hair-cutting products are sold out or have shipping dates in June! But Amazon is not the only game in our virtual town. Walmart had a great hair buzzer that was very reasonably priced. After selecting our much-needed tool we couldn’t help but notice several things that gave us a sigh of relief. (Check out the screenshot)
Walmart did not require us to create an account we neither wanted, nor needed. We could simply enter our shipping and credit card information and make a purchase. Also, to the best of our understanding, this information was not stored on a forward-facing server that the world could probe because we did not create an account.
Look in the lower right corner of the check out screen for Walmart. They provide their customers with links to copies of any personal information that Walmart has on them. (The link that says “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” is ONLY available to California residents since California passed better privacy restrictions than any other state in 2018, called the California Consumer Privacy Act.)
In this brave new world where consumers have ZERO privacy, it is somewhat reassuring to know that Walmart makes this modest, but important effort, to give consumers these options. Contrast these options with purchases made through Target.com.
We went looking for a reasonably priced pair of hair cutting shears and found what we needed on Target.com that promises to be delivered before the coming of the Messiah. We found it and added it to our cart. However, when we clicked “checkout” we were informed that WE WERE REQUIRED to create an account on Target.com. Reluctantly, we did. That’s when bad went to worse and Target took the liberty of taking and holding our personal information without asking us. Not only did Target create an account that we didn’t want after asking for our email address and physical address, but Target required us to provide a phone number (which we made up) for this account. Target also decided on its own to take the credit card data we used for our purchase and stick it into our new Target account as our “credit card on file.” We didn’t ask them to do that and it now meant that our credit card data was sitting on their outward-facing server for someone to hack.
Now we were pissed!
We went through every setting and link available in our newly-created account to figure out how to delete it. Deleting this created account was not an option! YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT! Target forced us to create an account we didn’t want, collected and posted our personal data to it, even a phone number and credit card information, and then made it impossible for us to delete it! We even used their “Help” feature to search for some instructions on how to “cancel” or “delete” our account but got bubkis!
The only thing we were able to do was to go into the account and delete our credit card they had stored in our account and delete our address. We find these consumer practices absolutely offensive and Target needs to do a much better job at being sensitive to the data privacy of customers. We tried to tell Target this by actually calling a support phone number on their website. Of course we were asked to enter our account number and were then told that our wait would be at least 30 minutes. We hung up.
Target is very obviously a legitimate commercial service. However, that doesn’t mean this legitimate business engages in consumer practices that offer appropriate protections and choices to the consumers who make online purchases. They don’t. Instead, they acted like a digital spider trapping you in their web, collecting and keeping your data to feed their own money-making purposes. That will be the last time we’ll ever purchase anything from Target online. Maybe we’ll try calling them again to complain, when we have an hour to kill.
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