Donna L. Wilson leads the West Coast litigation practice of BuckleySandler LLP, where she focuses on class action defense and complex litigation in a variety of areas impacting the retail industry, including privacy and consumer financial services.
For years, many retailers have at least informally been on the lookout for customers who abuse the return transaction process, and in some cases, declined to engage in further business with customers perceived to be engaging in abusive or even fraudulent return transactions.
In a decision that is sending waves across the national retail industry, the California Supreme Court recently held that ZIP codes constitute “personal identification information” under the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act. The decision, Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores Inc., generally will expose retailers who request such information from customers paying with a credit card to penalties of up to $1,000 per request. It already has triggered literally more than one hundred putative class action lawsuits in a matter of weeks against retailers doing business in California, including those who have relied on earlier lower court opinions blessing such information requests. And it likely will chill retailers’ marketing and anti-fraud efforts, while impeding customer efforts to obtain the full benefits of the retailers’ services and products.