Poll: Keep Private Info Private

000430_financial_privacy CBS

Many supermarkets now offer rewards cards or loyalty cards that give special discounts or rewards to card members. While most Americans say supermarket rewards cards are generally a good thing, there are significant concerns about supermarkets using the cards to collect customers' personal information - including their purchase records - and most cardholders see this as an invasion of their privacy.

In the event of a food recall, cardholders would still not want supermarkets to use individuals' purchase records to locate and notify the customers who bought the suspected items; even in that instance, use of the records would be seen as an invasion of privacy.

Cardholders would be more willing to put privacy aside if the recall involved meat with suspected mad cow disease – but even then, nearly half still say using the records would be an invasion of privacy.

By a three to one margin, Americans say supermarket rewards cards are generally a good thing, and those who currently have one are especially likely to say this. Six in ten Americans say they currently have such a rewards card from their supermarket.


SUPERMARKET LOYALTY AND REWARDS CARDS ARE:


All

A good thing
61%

A bad thing
22%


Cardholders

A good thing
70%

A bad thing
22%




But members of such rewards card programs disapprove of supermarkets' keeping a permanent record of their personal information, especially if this information is their purchase record.

More than six in ten cardholders say that supermarkets should not keep records of what people buy, even if that data is used to offer customers special discounts.

SUPERMARKETS KEEPING PURCHASE RECORDS
(Among Cardholders)


Approve
35%

Disapprove
62%




Nearly six in ten rewards cardholders also say that supermarkets' use of purchase information, even if used to notify them about a food recall of items they have recently bought, is an invasion of privacy.


USE PURCHASE RECORDS TO NOTIFY CUSTOMERS OF FOOD RECALL?:
(Among Cardholders)


Yes - use records
39%

No – invasion of privacy
57%




One instance where cardholders may be more willing to put privacy aside is in the event of a food recall involving mad cow disease – but even then, feelings are split: 52% of cardholders say the supermarket should use the information to notify them, but 45% still say this is would be an invasion of privacy.

USE PURCHASE RECORDS TO NOTIFY CUSTOMERS OF MAD COW DISEASE:
(Among Cardholders)


Yes - use records
52%

No – invasion of privacy
45%




Additionally, over half of members of the rewards card programs say supermarkets should not require personal information such as customer's name and phone number when applying for a rewards card.

SHOULD SUPERMARKETS REQUIRE CUSTOMERS' PERSONAL INFORMATION IN CARD APPLICATION?
(Among Cardholders)


Should
43%

Should not
52%





This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,024 adults, including 622 supermarket cardholders, interviewed by telephone March 30-April 1, 2004. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the samples of all adults, and plus or minus four points for samples based on cardholders.


For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.



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  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.

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