(Credit: Flickr/kentb)

You’re at the checkout counter with your credit card in hand when the cashier asks for your zip code. You may think the question is leading to a new American Apparel/Whole Foods/John Campbell’s Irish Bakery in your neighborhood. That may be, but Williams Sonoma was also building a reverse search database. You know, so the San Francisco-based retailer can figure out where you live….presumably to give you a new reason to update your opt-out profile with Catalog Choice.

Tracking zip codes like that violates the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971 (Civ. Code, § 1747 et seq.), according to the state Supreme Court.

Today’s 17 page ruling overturns an appellate court’s 2008 ruling to the contrary. The Supreme Court justices determined unanimously that Williams-Sonoma offered no reason that would justify “departing” from the “statute’s plain language, protective purpose and legislative history.”

This just in: Google Weddings. I like the Caribbean theme, but isn’t Google totally capable of reverse searching what computer I’m browsing on? Isn’t Williams-Sonoma as well?


Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Silicon Valley Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers arts and culture in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. This follows more than seven years hosting KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked in Los Angeles for Marketplace and KPCC.

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