When you use your credit card in a physical Home Depot store, the retailer can use it to send you an email about the product that you just bought.
That is, if you've ever ordered anything off the Home Depot website with that card.
After a tipster told Chris Morran at the Consumerist that Home Depot had somehow sent him promotional emails about the in-store purchase he'd just made, Morran got in touch with the home improvement retailer, and received this statement.
Take it away, Home Depot rep:
“Our policy is to send product review emails like this only to customers who opt in to receive email regarding products and promotions – and those emails may include product reviews. It’s our way of making the content for customers more relevant and meaningful to their purchasing interests, and another way for us to get honest feedback about the products we sell. We gladly and promptly remove anyone from the system who asks, and we’ve only had a handful of those requests. It’s also very important to note that the IT systems that make this possible do not track credit card numbers. They do, however, recognize a credit card through a unique identifier that matches up with purchases online or in the store. Again, we’ll remove anyone from the list if they’re not comfortable with that, but it’s very well intended to avoid sending customers emails that have nothing to do with their interests.”
It appears that when you make an online purchase with Home Depot, the retailer stores your email and assigns a reference number to your credit card (not the credit card number itself). When that number pops up again in-store, Home Depot knows it's you, and can use that to send you an email.
Home Depot also confirms to the Consumerist that it keeps all the tracking info that it collects, whether or not you decide to opt-out of the emails.
You can opt-out of the emails by clicking the link that's available at the bottom of each one of them.
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