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We were in a counter-service restaurant today. When we went to pay, their checkout system required a telephone number and email address. We asked if we could opt-out and just pay, and were told that the system requires that information in order to complete checkout. We were not allowed to checkout without entering the information and left.

Given that this is a private business, is it okay for them to require this information to in order to complete a transaction?

  • What country and state and/or city is the restaurant in? – BlueDogRanch Jul 9 at 20:53
  • @BlueDogRanch Indiana, USA – zje Jul 9 at 21:33
  • You'd have to really dig into the terms, but I believe that some card issuers (VISA in particular is pretty strict) prohibit collecting this type of information as a condition of accepting the card, as part of the merchant's contractual obligation to do business with them. – animuson Jul 9 at 23:07
  • Telephone number: 555-5555, Email: someguy@gmail.com - you are under no obligation to be truthful – Dale M Jul 10 at 4:45
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A private business can ask you to do many things, and you have the right to not do business with them. So if you arrive at the checkout with two shopping trolleys full of goods, and they ask you for information you don’t want to give, you are free to leave your shopping trolley and walk out. The same in a restaurant while they are taking your order.

Now if you ate your food, and are required to pay obviously, all you are legally required to do is pay. If they are refusing to accept your payment, things get interesting. Normally one would leave contact information to indicate willingness to pay ( to avoid being accused of theft) and walk. Which would be exactly missing the point here.

So if they insist, and you insist, you can give obviously false information (your name is Mickey Mouse), giving the cashier the chance to pretend you obliged, or call the police who will be very happy about such a call.

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There is no law prohibiting a private business from insisting on collecting such information that I know of. It may be, as the comment by animuson suggests, that a private contract with a credit card issuer purports to prevent a business from insisting on this information. But even if it does, it would probably be very troublesome for a customer to determine where and how to report a violation, and there is no way to know what effect such a report would have.

A customer in such a situation has several options:

  1. Simply walk away, as the OP did;
  2. Ask to speak to the manager, explain why one objects to the collection of the information, and refuse to do business unless the manager makes an exception;
  3. Comply with the the demand for information;
  4. Provide fake information. No law requires you to give valid info to someone not entitled to demand it, if you are not applying for credit.
  • I'm not so sure about #4. If having your correct contact info is a material part of the transaction, and you give fake info, couldn't that be fraud? – Nate Eldredge Jul 10 at 1:00
  • How can it be materiel? The store is not deprived of its price, or cheated in any way. It is only fraud if done to obtain an improper benefit, and it is not. And how could it possibly be prosecuted? – David Siegel Jul 10 at 1:10
  • Having your contact info might be something of value to the store, for future marketing or other purposes. And it's clearly important to them, if they won't make the sale without it. So you're leading them to believe they're getting something of value, but actually not giving it to them. – Nate Eldredge Jul 10 at 1:13
  • @Nate Perhaps. it is an interesting point of view. But even if it is theoretically fraud, i doubt whether any action could or would be taken against the customer. – David Siegel Jul 10 at 1:18
  • I think the biggest thing to consider with #4 is the ethical concern. While I don't know what the probability is of giving out a random phone number or email that turns out to be real, there is still a possibility for it, at which point you're causing an annoyance for some random person. – animuson Jul 10 at 3:48

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