Ralphs Supermarket used Robo Calls to contact customers about the nationwide egg recall.
A computer is warning people about their eggs.
Ralphs Supermarket placed calls this week to 500,000 customers who may have purchased eggs that are part of the nationwide recall.
The information used to place the calls came from loyalty-card records that are kept by the supermarket chain. Every time customers use a loyalty or club card, their purchase information goes into a data base that is kept by the supermarket.
"Most people think, 'Well, they're just giving me savings,' " said Rainey Reitman with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, "but, in fact, they are creating a profile of all the purchases you make."
Kendra Doyel with Ralphs said the business was able to take that purchase information and warn their customers that they may have the eggs in their homes. Ralphs sold 20,000 cartons of the eggs affected by the recall. Doyel said that while they had information about what brand was purchased, the data base does not give them the lot number. So, customers getting the computer-generated calls may not actually have purchased the recalled eggs.
Reitman said she has a problem with supermarkets collecting purchase information but feels using it in the case of recall is appropriate: "The use of club cards to notify consumers about health and safety concerns is a legitimate use."
Doyel said purchase information is stored for "years and years."