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Walmart.com shows your in-store purchases whether you like it or not
15 points by coreyp_1 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments
We have long known that Walmart is tracking your purchases, and that they are trying to compete with Amazon.

Now, they will share your personal, in-store purchases with whomever is able to see your browser window.

I found this out when I walked out of the room & a friend got bored and decided to use my laptop to find who was selling a specific amiibo, and when I came into the room, he asked, "hey, why did you buy XYZ?". XYZ was just a food item, but this was CREEPY, that walmart was showing last week's in-store purchase ONLINE, without my permission!

I had not visited the walmart.com website in a LONG time, so I most certainly didn't expect to still be logged in. But, more importantly, I didn't expect my private purchase history to be laid out publicly, either, on the main walmart.com front page. The most important thing is, though, WHY CAN'T I TURN THIS OFF?!?

I turned off "Personalized Experience" under "Your Account > Communications and Privacy", but the "Ready to reorder?" block is still on the front page.

Any ideas of what I should do next?

> Any ideas of what I should do next?

Stop shopping at walmart is an option...

Or you know, pay cash.

Also it could have been worse:


Very relevant story. I thought of linking to it in my original post, but it was already getting to be quite long. Thanks for including it here, though!

Was the information really laid out publicly? Or did your friend use your computer under your username, and likely opening a browser that just held some persistent cookies/ local data which included Walmarts previous session credentials?

The cookies were persistent, and evidently I was still logged in. Granted, I should have logged out, but it has happened more than once that someone has needed to watch me purchase something (perhaps we were purchasing something together for a gift, or it was for a class project, etc.), and then they could see my history. I have fixed this and worked around it on 3 other websites so far, but Walmart is the first one that did it with offline purchases, and that made me angry.

The fact that my offline purchases are linked to an online account WITHOUT my permission and AGAINST my will is only the first issue.

The fact that I do not even have the option to DISABLE this intrusion is a second issue. It is, in a manner, leaking private information. You may not have to use your computer publicly while logged in; I have had to on numerous occasions in just the past year.

I want the ability to maintain my privacy.

> Any ideas of what I should do next?

Log out of your computer if you don’t want people to see your history (well now with the sad addendum of both online AND offline history)

Yes. Except that I have to use my computer, logged in, quite often, publicly (in front of others). I have resorted to using ad blockers on some sites to get around it (amazon, ebay, aliexpress, etc.).

My question is simple, though: Why can't I as a customer disable this invasive "feature"? I don't want it. If I want to get into my history, then I'll navigate to my order history page. Otherwise, the website is leaking my private information.

It's hard to believe someone with a PhD in CS (almost), and who values privacy, would not take precautions to mitigate any ability for a large corporation in the age of "big data" to aggregate their data.

Let's be clear: Cash is king.

It's also a bit shocking that there are only 3 other instances of that word in the comments here.

Sorry you're not happy with the experience, my team worked on this and I'll make sure your feedback makes it to our product team.

Also, it might not be as creepy as you think, the only way a transaction can end up on your account is if you scan the QR code on a paper receipt or if you pay using the Walmart app in store (with WalmartPay or Scan and Go).

this hasn’t been the case for me. I see recent purchases online and the app for purchases in store with a physical credit that is also used for Wlmart pay. Even if I didn’t use Walmart Pay for that purchase. I wasn’t to happy to see non Walmart pay purchases automatically added and there should be an opt in (at minimum an opt out) for this association.

Thank you for your response here. Any frustrations that I express are not directed at you personally. I was a cashier & CSM for WalMart a decade ago, before I went to college for CS (finishing up my PhD now). I'm angry because I actually _enjoyed_ my time with the company & my co-workers, and it is both irritating and frustrating that WM has betrayed my trust in this way. I'm sorry if I sound like I'm over-reacting, but I value my personal privacy above everything else, and this breaches a division of identity and privacy that I have intentionally worked to maintain. And, no, I don't wear a tin foil hat. :)

I can absolutely, positively, without a doubt, confirm that I have never paid using the Walmart app. I don't know about the QR code, but I cannot remember ever scanning one. I do know for sure that I have never even downloaded the Walmart app (I just looked through my Google Play history to confirm). In fact, I don't use apps in this way at all. Is it possible that some 3rd party has connected the information? If so, could you tell me who that would be because I will most certainly extract them from my life with extreem prejudice. I did not give permission for this breach of privacy. This is my primary concern.

The fact that I can't keep the "Ready to reorder?" block from appearing on the front page is a secondary concern, because it leaks my personal actions in potentially public settings. For that matter, I don't want any of my offline purchases to ever be conflated with my online presence.

I would like to report that I tried to talk to someone on the customer service chat on the website, and they disconnected from the chat almost immediately. That's why I posted here; I was frustrated that I had no ability for my voice to be heard. Searching online only found a few other people who shared my concern/distain, but no answers as to how to fix it: * http://www.myproana.com/index.php/topic/1686249-walmart-know... * http://www.greentractortalk.com/forums/off-topic/149002-some...

I would appreciate any help you could give in at least having these concerns heard. Otherwise, I feel that control of my private life is being stripped away, and I am to the point that I will pay triple the prices at another store before I let that happen. Thankfully, there is a super Target, a Meijer, and several other grocery stores within a few blocks that I can choose from. I am a steadfast evangelist of voting with your dollars, and I vote for privacy. I stopped shopping at Harbor Freight for the same reason.

Any chance you elected for an in-store pickup?

Nope, never. Also, to clarify my earlier comment, I have never scanned a receipt QR code code with a walmart app, and I'm pretty sure that I have never scanned one with any other app, either.

REI does this on their website (at least if you are a membership). I've always found it handy.

How did they link your online account with your purchase? Through your credit card?

There are 2 ways to add a transaction to your account:

1. Scan the QR on a receipt with the Walmart app

2. Use the Walmart app to make a purchase in store using WalmartPay or Scan and Go

You’re having the Walmart app to log purchases. How is this unexpected?

Just for clarification, I want to stress that I have never used the Walmart app. That is why it is unexpected.

How did they link your purchase to your account then? If they are linking accounts through credit card numbers that is pretty bad, anyone who has used that card for an online purchase can see any other purchases made with it.

That is one of my concerns, too. I think that they must have used the CC info.

Amazon also shows you your purchases whether you like it or not. Log out and clear cookies.

Well, they do provide a mechanism to exclude the purchases. I have also begun using ad blockers to hide them.

The biggest issue, though, is that WM had linked and is showing offline purchases on my online account without my consent.

I guess no one but you saw connecting offline and online as so conceptually different that would require anything additional...

Clarify something for me. Is your problem that the two datapoints are connected within the company's databases, or that they display that on your computer screen?


I value privacy above everything.

Actors use stage names for a reason. Writers use pen names. We use screen names. Why? Privacy. I don't mean privacy as in "to hide", but rather to partition one's life. I don't want my offline life and online life to intermingle.

Spammers, ad agencies, facebook, google, etc. all want a unified profile for every person. The more complete that this profile is, the more that information is worth (and becomes the target of data thieves). You have become the product. Your information is sold, other people get rich, and you receive nothing but ads, ads, and more ads, and I loathe ads.

My experience was that my private purchases were disclosed to someone who used my computer without my knowledge, and Walmart openly (as in, on the front page) announced my private purchases to someone who was (from their perspective) innocently trying to find something completely unrelated. To a person who values privacy, this is a betrayal from Walmart.

In a sense, Walmart doxxed me.

> I value privacy above everything.

Give me a break. You use credit or debit cards, they record everything. You go around the internet showing your presence to all the data brokers.

This has nothing to do with Walmart. You'd just for the first time realized that the things you say you care about don't really match up with your actions, and now you're surprised.

I know that our mere existence in this world means that we do not have absolute privacy, but that does not also mean that we can never have privacy at all. For example (slightly exaggerated) it's illegal to put cameras inside a changing room, but not illegal to put a camera at the entrance of the changing rooms. There are boundaries for which privacy should exist.

Perhaps a more apt analogy is that of a public library: The library may be public, but most state laws require that your records be kept confidential. The same goes for public education (FERPA). The same goes for healthcare (HIPPA).

If I go to a doctor, I do not expect them to send me mail that can disclose my medical history to an incidental observer, which has unfortunately happened to patients in both the UK and US, and people were rightfully angry about it (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/02/london-cl... and more recently https://www.statnews.com/2017/08/24/aetna-hiv-envelopes/). You cannot say, "well, you went to a doctor, you even paid with a credit card, and walked on a public sidewalk up to the door, so you must not care about it being private".

I believe that what Walmart did was inappropriate. Maybe not for everyone, but it is for me. (Conversely, I'm quite proud of my GPA & don't mind if it is public knowledge, but my university still won't tell you what it is without my explicit permission, because this kind of information does adversely affect some people, and is therefore protected by FERPA.) Unfortunately, I'm just a single individual and WM probably doesn't care what I think. So be it. I will still make it known, though, that I believe that they violated my privacy.

I'm not "surprised" and I don't think that I acted inconsistently. Rather, I'm frustrated at the lack of confidentiality.

Again, what you just wrote is related to the "display on your screen" bit.

But regarding the "record on their database" bit, you use credit cards and you KNEW that gets recorded in some payment gateway database somewhere. It has nothing to do with Walmart. You just don't like the hassle of using cash.

No offense but how is it different than if your friend went onto Amazon from your computer?

I've never shopped off-line in an Amazon store, so I can't tell you. But, in regards to online shopping, on Amazon, I do exclude every single purchase from their recommendation engine and I have recently began to hide the recommendation block with a CSS-based ad blocker, just in case I miss one.

I just value my privacy. I don't even tell them my name at Burger King because I don't believe that they need to know my name when I go through the drive-thru.

About 10 years ago, I decided that my default answer is always "No". "No, you do not need my phone number." "No, you do not need my zip code." "No, you do not need my name." "No, you do not need my email address." "No, you do not need my mailing address." Unless we're on a blind date, I don't need to give this info to someone I just met. It makes you very sensitive, then, to the frequency of events in which someone wants you to give up your privacy.

Lol. You claim to value your privacy but you use credit/debit cards.

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