E-receipts from leading retailers 'may break data protection rules'

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Several large retailers may be breaking data protection rules with their e-receipts, according to an investigation by the consumer body Which?.

Many retailers offer to email receipts to shoppers but the rules in this area were tightened in May when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force.

Which? said some of the biggest names on the high street were including unwanted marketing information in their e-receipts, contrary to the rules. It sent mystery shoppers to 11 retailers: Topshop, Clarks, Gap, New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Arcadia Group (Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Burton), Schuh, Mothercare, Halfords, Currys PC World and Nike.

Each company was visited at least three times and the mystery shoppers requested an e-receipt but told the retailer they did not want to receive any additional marketing.

E-receipts issued by Mothercare, Schuh, Halfords and Gap contained promotional marketing, “indicating that the retailers may be breaking data protection rules”, Which? said.

Retailers must not send direct marketing to new customers by email unless the recipient has consented to receive it. If a retailer asks for an email address at the point of sale and plans to send marketing information, it must give shoppers the option to opt out.

One shop sent a marketing email with the e-receipt attached, while others included prompts to sign up for a newsletter or invitations to complete a survey in return for money off a future purchase.

Which? said it was concerned about the possibility of consumers being “bombarded” with unwanted marketing messages.

Halfords said its e-receipts were compliant with the UK’s data protection law and conformed to GDPR regulations. “Our e-receipts do not contain any active promotion of products or services,” it added.

Gap told Which? that it took the privacy rights of its customers seriously and was investigating. Schuh told Which?: “Following your feedback, we have now updated the communications you highlighted.”

Mothercare said: “We take the privacy rights of our customers very seriously and we are confident our e-receipts comply with data protection laws. We look forward to receiving Which’s findings so we can investigate fully.”

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