updated 10:09 pm EST, Fri January 17, 2014
Claim to have received marketing materials by providing info
A trio of Boston area plaintiffs have filed suit against Apple in Massachusetts, claiming that they were forced to provide their home ZIP codes when making purchases at an Apple Store in Boston using credit cards. The men claim that under commonwealth law, it is illegal to compel customers to provider more personal information than is required by credit card issuers to verify the transaction -- apparently unaware that credit card companies use ZIP codes to verify transactions.
The practice of using ZIP codes to ensure that the person using the credit card is aware of the full address of the card owner is common throughout the United States in both stores and online merchant sites. A test attempting to buy items at Amazon, Apple's online store and other sites saw all the stores requiring ZIP codes that matched the code for the address on file in order for the transaction to be approved, suggesting that this was a standard practice by credit card issuers.
The complain further alleges that not only does Apple collect the information (rather than complying with directives from credit card companies), but that it sells this information to other companies for profit, reports AppleInsider. The plaintiffs claim hard in the form of "having received unwanted marketing materials from Apple as a result of having provided their ZIP codes when using credit cards at Apple," though they do not specify what form the materials took -- Apple commonly sends customers emails following a purchase, but isn't known to mail marketing materials to buyers (and thus require a ZIP code).
In the original version of the proposed suit, discussed with Apple prior to the filing, the group was seeking damages of $25 per instance in Massachusetts, attorney's fees and "a reasonable incentive reward [...] for services as the proposed class representatives. It did not include any claim that Apple sold the collected information to third parties.
Apparently rebuffed by Apple's legal department, the trio have now filed the suit asking for damages of up $75 per violation, interest on the damages, litigation expenses and attorney's fees and "further relief," along with an injunction to force Apple to stop collecting ZIP code information in the commonwealth. Apple has not yet responded to the suit, which is seeking class-action status.