Retailers: We don’t sell your information

Consumers fed up with unwanted marketing ‘junk’ naturally blame retail credit providers for passing on their information. However these providers maintain a  “don’t look at us” attitude.

Whether it’s be a phone call during the day, or receiving a “credit card” in the mail with instruction on how to sign up for retail credit – its the job of marketing companies and credit providers to find a way of reaching consumers.

However, when confronted on how they obtain numbers, addresses and other information, marketers and service providers cite “central databases” or avoid the question altogether.

So where do they get their customer information from?

When hit with the question of information security, the big South African banks maintained that banking customer information wasn’t sold to third parties, and were subsequently forthcoming with information on processes and regulations in place which they subscribed to in order to protect that information.

However, banks aren’t the only financial institutions that deal with your information. Anyone who has opened a credit account with a retail store can attest to being approached by other retail groups fishing for new credit customers, sometime thereafter.

BusinessTech approached major retail credit providers with similar questions posed to the banks, and was met with a clammed response.

Retailers respond

Edcon, the group with CNA, Boardmans, Edgars and other retail brands in its stable, said it only dealt with customer information.

“Edcon does not sell client information to any third parties,” the group said. “[The group] manages and maintains a single database of client information from across the divisions that is strictly managed by system controls, key dedicated personnel and appropriate reporting tools.”

The Foschini Group – which handles Foschini, Markham, @home and other brands – maintained a similar position, saying it would not sell client information to third parties.

Kathryn Sakalis, spokesperson for TFG, added that any group employee – acting independently – would not be able to sell off customer information to third parties.

“All TFG employees are required to sign and comply with a number of documents that govern how they deal with confidential customer and other company information as part of their conditions of employment. These documents include a confidentiality statement, rules of conduct, code of Good Conduct and Computer System’s Rules of Conduct.”

In addition, Sakalis added that access to customer information is “strictly limited” to TFG employees – and even then only to those who require that information to perform their jobs.

Woolworth Holdings, as it is a single company, holds and maintains only a single database which is not distributed across any divisions, and the company insists that it does not communicate with customers who prefer not to receive marketing communication.

“Woolworths does not sell our customer information to third parties. We respect the privacy of our customers information,” Woolworths said.

“We have stringent internal policies to prevent the misuse of information. Woolworths does not permit employees to sell customers private information. It is an offence to do so – we would not tolerate this behaviour.”

“In addition to making use of information technology security measures, our employees are also trained and expected to protect the integrity of our customers’ private information,” the company said.

Mr. Price Group – which owns and manages all the Mr. Price brands (Mr. Price Home, Mr. Price Sport) – declined the opportunity to comment.

At the time of publishing, Massmart (GAME, Makro, Builders Warehouse and Dion Wired) and Clicks Group had not responded to our queries.

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Retailers: We don’t sell your information