January 11, 2012
By Sean Poulter
Shopping centres have triggered a Big Brother row after installing equipment that allows them to track customers using their mobile phone signals.
The technology has raised privacy concerns after it emerged that major shopping centre owner Land Securities has installed it at ten of Britain’s biggest malls.
These include the giant Cabot Circus, Bristol; Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth; Princesshay, Exeter; Buchanan Galleries, Glasgow; Bon Accord & St Nicholas, Aberdeen; and The Centre, Livingston.
A tiny yellow sign in Exeter’s Princesshay shopping centre is the only warning customers receive that their mobile phone signal is being ‘tracked’ by Footpath’s scanners. There is no way to opt out except not to enter or to turn off your mobile
Path Intelligence, which developed the system in the UK, said it includes safeguards to prevent spying on individuals and that no personal information is collected.
Rather, it is designed to track people’s movements to better understand what shops and services they find most interesting or useful.
However, most shoppers are completely in the dark about the tracking technology, and the only way to escape it is to turn off the mobile phone.
November 28, 2011
“Watch how the cops in the video don’t even seem to care that the man is practically bleeding to death. They took him down so hard for allegedly shoplifting on Black Friday – it turns out he wasn’t shoplifting at all. Why would anyone be a part of Black Friday? The mobs of people grabbing bargains is beyond lame. Talk about a bunch of sheeple.” –KTRN
Black Friday turned into Red Friday for Jerald Newman, 54, who was out on Thanksgiving evening shopping with his grandson. Consumers prepped themselves for long lines in retail shops, but Newman didn’t think he’d have to brave for a police assault.
Newman was shopping at a Wal-Mart store in Buckeye, Arizona late Thursday night along with thousands of other Americans who congregate to celebrate consumerism in a post-holiday bargain hunting binge called Black Friday. Newman says he became overwhelmed by the crowds at the Wal-Mart he was shopping at, so he attempted to lift his grandkid into the air to avoid a mob of violent shoppers. To free his hands, Newman says he placed a video game into his waistband and tried to launch the youngster out of the crowd. Police suspected the man of shoplifting, however, and took him down. Hard.
Cell phone cameras began rolling shortly after a police officer swept the legs of Newman, dropping the man to the ground, where he promptly hit the concrete floor of the shopping center face-first. As he laid motionless and silent, cops mounted the man while a pool of blood began to spill out into the store.
“Get that on camera. See how fucked up that is,” a bystander is heard yelling at the cops.
David Chadd, 24 of Las Vegas, caught the whole thing on his iPhone 4S. He tells RT that hundreds of people were in the entertainment section of Wal-Mart for games that the store only kept six copies of apiece.
“People were getting trampled,” says Chadd.
“You would have thought there was a cure for cancer in this box,” shopper Skyler Stone adds to a local Fox affiliate. “I mean people were literally going insane.”
July 12, 2011
Using debit and credit cards have become second nature to most people who don’t want to run to the bank every time they’re out of cash, but new research shows that cash could help your eating habits.
Over a six-month spread researchers looked at the register receipts of a random sample of 1,000 loyal shoppers at a Northeastern supermarket chain and analyzed what they bought and how they paid for it, reports MSNBC.
The study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that shoppers were more likely to buy items considered “unhealthy” when they paid with credit or debit cards than if they paid with cash, and that weekend shoppers were more likely to stick to a list.
Researchers say they were surprised to find that debit cards had the same psychological effect as credit cards, since money is deducted from bank accounts immediately, but with any kind of plastic payment seems people are willing to spend more.
But to make sure that the spending patters weren’t more related to penny pinchers versus those who like to live large, the study also analyzed 125 students in a computer simulated shopping task.
July 27, 2010
By: Anne D’Innocenzio
Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) is putting electronic identification tags on men’s clothing like jeans starting Aug. 1 as the world’s largest retailer tries to gain more control of its inventory. But the move is raising eyebrows among privacy experts.
The individual garments, which also includes underwear and socks, will have removable smart tags that can be read from a distance by Wal-Mart workers with scanners. In seconds, the worker will be able to know what sizes are missing and will also be able tell what it has on hand in the stock room. Such instant knowledge will allow store clerks to have the right sizes on hand when shoppers need them.
The tags work by reflecting a weak radio signal to identify the product. They have long spurred privacy fears as well as visions of stores being able to scan an entire shopping cart of items at one time.
Wal-Mart’s goal is to eventually expand the tags to other types of merchandise but company officials say it’s too early to give estimates on how long that will take.
“There are so many significant benefits in knowing how to better manage inventory and better serve customers,” said Lorenzo Lopez, a Wal-Mart spokesman. “This will enhance the shopping experience and help us grow our business.”
Before the rollout, Wal-Mart and other stores were using the tags, called radio frequency identification tags, only to track pallets or cases of merchandise in their warehouses. But now the tags are jumping onto individual items, a move that some privacy experts describe as frightening.
Wal-Mart, which generated annual revenue of a little more than $400 billion in its latest fiscal year and operates almost 4,000 stores, has huge influence with suppliers. That makes other merchants tend to follow its lead.
“This is a first piece of a very large and very frightening tracking system,” said Katherine Albrecht, director of a group called Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
Albrecht worries that Wal-Mart and others would be able to track movements of customers who in some border states like Michigan and Washington are carrying new driver’s licenses that contain RFID tags to make it easier for them to cross borders.
Albrecht fears that retailers could scan data from such licenses and their purchases and combine that data with other personal information. She also says that even though the smart tags can be removed from clothing, they can’t be turned off and can be tracked even after you throw them in the garbage, for example.
Wal-Mart officials said they are aware of privacy concerns but insist they are taking a “thoughtful and methodical approach.”
Dan Fogelman, a Wal-Mart spokesman said that the smart label doesn’t collect customer information.
“Wal-Mart is using it strictly to manage inventory. The customer is in complete control,” he said. Fogelman added that Wal-Mart’s readers identify only inventory it has in the store.
To placate privacy concerns, Wal-Mart, which is financing some of the suppliers’ costs, is asking vendors to embed the smart tags in removable labels and not embed them in clothing.
Wal-Mart plans to educate customers with the new program through in-store videos and through signs posted in the stores that educate customers about the program.