Safeway Sued For Not Alerting Loyalty-Card Customers To Food Recall

Written by Evan Schuman
February 2nd, 2011

A non-profit group sued the $41 billion Safeway grocery chain Wednesday (Feb. 2) for continually failing to notify customers about recalls, even though many of those customers used their CRM cards and were theoretically contactable.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) argued that when “Safeway learns that recalled products have been sold in its stores, it has a duty to disclose to customers that they face serious health risks or even death if they eat the recalled products. Safeway chooses not to notify its customers who purchased recalled products, thereby putting them at risk.”

The lawsuit added a claim that “this action will cost Safeway nothing, because Safeway’s suppliers agree to reimburse all costs associated with notice and refunds.” That last claim may not be fully true, as the cost of revamping IT systems to allow for such customer communications will not necessarily be covered.

If a chain, for example, has opted to never E-mail loyalty-card-using customers, setting up such a communication capability could be extensive (and expensive). And it’s unlikely that manufacturers would consider that a recall cost, as opposed to a pure marketing cost. After all, some chains do use E-mail outreach, and there’s no reason for manufacturers to have paid for that.

The lawsuit said that Safeway should go beyond E-mail to alert consumers about recalls. “To effectuate this recall, Safeway should use, to the fullest extent possible, automated register printouts, telephone calls, letters, E-mails and text messaging, and prominent statements in Safeway stores and on the homepage of,” according to the court filing.

Safeway, understandably, has a very different view.


One Comment | Read Safeway Sued For Not Alerting Loyalty-Card Customers To Food Recall

  1. T.Anne Says:

    I am not against the idea – yet at the same time, I hope the case is thrown out or in favor of Safeway. 1, because it is not a industry requirement; 2, because if that was the intended use of the card – it probably would’ve been mentioned in the paperwork… without that it shouldn’t be expected; 3, if you do it for those cards – what about store credit cards? Shouldn’t those be included too under that logic – they have all the detail; 4, most customers don’t want the emails anyways, or just delete them. Who’s to say they’d want this? If done – it should be an opt in or out option separate from any other emails – not a requirement; and 5, this just screams data privacy risk to me for some reason… it could create a fine line between when and how to use customer PII.


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