It just goes to show that Baldwin Park's Walmart is just as bright as Baldwin Park's administrators and public officials. After all - Baldwin Park is the shame of the San Gabriel Valley. It has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates, nearly 44%; water that's so polluted with tetrachloride that you can develop cancer and Parkinson's; the most obese children in California; and the worst air in California - you can get cancer just from breathing it in.
Now, even their merchants put customers' identities at risk. I had gift cards from the holiday season with hundreds of dollars on it. But because I was using visa debit cards, my name was not on it. As a result, the employee swiped my card and debited several hundred dollars for the item I was purchasing.
After I had purchased the item, she said, "I want your social security number."
I said, "No."
She said she wouldn't release the item until I gave it to her.
I said, "You know this is illegal to do." (This is true under the Beverly-Song Act, in which the California Supreme Court recently ruled that even collecting a zip code in connection with using a credit card is an unwarranted invasion of privacy by the merchant.)
She replied, "Are you telling me how to do my job?"
I said, "No, but this is illegal."
"You're telling me how to do my job and you're not gonna get what you want."
She then asked, "So tell me your social security number?"
I thought, Could she really be so stupid to make me say it aloud? I thought about it. They had me hostage. Either give them the social security number or I lost my money on my debit card.
I said, "You know, I'll write it down for you."
This incident actually happened again, when I used another prepaid visa I had from the holidays. And this time, the same employee named Mandy brought her supervisor.
He told me, "Every time you use a pre-paid visa we're going to ask for your social security."
I thought to myself, This sucks.
You would think a merchant would learn after Target promoted identity theft. Guess not.
Walmart could care less if someone steals your identity. How do I know the lowly paid employees won't try to take my social security number? They certainly have the incentive because Walmart doesn't even pay them enough or offer health care benefits.
On Feb. 5, 2013, an executive representative called me from Walmart.
He told me that Walmart was allowed to collect social security numbers.
I rejected this because I looked up the law and it doesn't apply to Walmart.
I asked the representative, "Can you please go back to your general counsel [which is their internal lawyers] and confirm what you're telling me?"
He said, "We will not do that."
"Are you telling me, if you're wrong, you won't change your policy?"
"Can I record you now?"
"I'm recording you anyways."
He hung up.
That's Walmart for you.]