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You won't believe all the things Kroger knows about you

Grocery chain keeps track of your shopping, spending, and interests
Posted at 10:30 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 19:24:11-05

A new consumer privacy law in California is already impacting shoppers in other states, including in the Greater Cincinnati area.

That's because it is requiring stores to tell shoppers what it knows about them, and what data it collects.

And if you are a Kroger shopper with a Kroger Plus loyalty card, or the app installed on your phone, they know an awful lot about you.

Gina Klein, who was shopping the Hyde Park Kroger this week is OK with that. "The coupons that they send that correlate with what I normally buy kind of make it worth it," she said.

Shopper Alex Hepa doesn't mind either, because of the gasoline discounts he gets each week at Kroger's gas pumps. "That to me is worth it," he said. "That's why I shop here."

That Kroger Plus card so many of us love lets you save up to $1 per gallon on gas, and also provides savings throughout the store. But those savings do come with a price, and that's your privacy, at least to Kroger.

New privacy law requires stores to disclose what they know about you

The new California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect in January 2020, requires companies to post exactly what information they collect about you.

Los Angeles Times business reporter David Lazarus analyzed Kroger's disclosure form (which is used at Kroger's Ralph's supermarkets in California) and found they may collect:

  • Your Kroger purchase history.
  • Your geolocation in their stores (apparently if you are using Kroger's app, though it is not clear).
  • Credit and debit card numbers.
  • Inferences about your interests (based on your purchases).
  • Your type of employment.
  • The insurance you carry (especially if you use the store's pharmacy).

And much more.

Kroger lists all the data it collects on its website.

Our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine say this new law is very helpful.

"This law is definitely the first comprehensive privacy law we have in this country," said Justin Brookman of Consumer Reports. "It's the first law that will require big companies that make money off of your data to give you back some control over it."

In addition, Consumer Reports says some companies may drop data collection to avoid the hassle of dealing with this new law.

Here’s what California residents can expect to see changed:

  • Companies will offer consumers the option of having their data deleted. Some companies, like Google and Facebook, have already provided these options.
  • Companies are also now required to provide details about the kinds of third parties they’re selling data to.
  • Possibly the most significant change will be an opt-out link. This will be a button on the bottom of a web page that says Do Not Sell My Personal Information. Californians will start to see this soon, though many companies should offer this nationwide as well for the sake of consistency.

But Kroger's head of data collection, at its 84.51° subsidiary in Cincinnati, tells the L.A. Times it "never sells personal data," and does not share your private information with other companies.

That is great news considering all the information they collect.

And if you think Kroger knows a lot about you, just imagine what Amazon knows, especially if you are an Amazon Prime member, who uses their movie and music service.

As always, don't waste your money.


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