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We are Legally Required to Store Your Home Address

Posted on:November 28, 2023

Is it OK for a business to know where you live? What if you ask them not to store that information? What if you intentionally give them a fake address and they still get your home address anyway?

I recently took my partner’s car to get an oil change and I was kind of surprised when the associate at the counter asked for my home address.

“Oh, that won’t be necessary”, I replied. “You don’t need to store my home address in your system and I don’t want any marketing materials sent to my house.”

The man working next to the associate I was talking to interjected and told me they were “legally required to store my home address”. I thought that was strange and wondered how it could be true. Maybe there were special cases to help law enforcement track stolen parts or cars. In the case of a simple oil change and tire rotation, you need to keep my home address on file even if I ask you not to? Weird, didn’t seem right to me.

To resolve the issue it was suggested I give them a fake address. I thought that was a great idea and did so. Problem solved right? Nope!

To my surprise, about a week or two later, I received one of those spam mailers from Sullivan’s Auto Service & Tire Pros advertising their services in my mailbox for me to recycle. How did this get to my home? I wondered.

I specifically asked them not to store my address, gave them a fake address, and now I’m on their marketing list somehow. They likely snagged my address from my driver’s license but they got it and used it against my will. I grew up here on the Monterey Peninsula so I’m aware of them already. I have seen their mailers many times before. My dad worked as a parts salesperson at the nearby Ford dealer for many years and likely knows people who work there. Hell, I probably went to high school with the owner’s kids. Monterey County is a small place.

Likely there is some clause buried in their TOS as part of the service agreement that allows them to do this, but after having a specific discussion about it, my expectation was to not have my real address be in their database.

I went to their website to try to find an email so I could make a written request to delete my info and couldn’t find any way to contact them so I left my request as a one-star review on maps, since they are active there.

I was expecting to get a response like “Sorry about that, we will of course delete your information and take you off our marketing lists as you had already requested” but instead was met with this unapologetic reply suggesting I use a paid service to reduce my marketing mail:

Mr. Cool. You have been removed from our marketing list going forward. Your last and only service with us was at the end of October so I don’t understand your comment about “I keep receiving marketing materials” when it has only been a month. The mailers are done by mail carrier routes so I don’t really have control over your specific address. You would need to register online with which from what I understand would stop most mailers from any company but probably not all. In regards to deletion of your vehicle service records, I cannot do that by law as we must maintain transaction history for any customer for six years.

I was surprised this was the response from a business that has been around here for so long and I hope they will comply with my delete request. Now I have an anonymous owner of this business who knows my home address and is unhappy with my review out there. I worry a bit about what this person, who was so dismissive of my request, might do with my home address. They know where I live and here I am bad-mouthing their business for their data practices. Another problem with allowing them to have our home addresses to begin with!

If there is a law that allows your business and its employees to take and store my address against my wishes, where is that and how does it supersede my delete request in accordance with the California Consumer Privacy Act?

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CPPA) gives consumers more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them and the CCPA regulations provide guidance on how to implement the law. This landmark law secures new privacy rights for California consumers, including:

  • The right to know about the personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared;
  • The right to delete personal information collected from them (with some exceptions);
  • The right to opt-out of the sale or sharing of their personal information; and
  • The right to non-discrimination for exercising their CCPA rights.

Is an oil change a service that warrents an exception? Why?

California residents can make complaints here with the California Privacy Protection Agency:

Whatever it may be with my specific case, all businesses that will take and store our personal information against our will should be held accountable. My home address is not public information and it’s not information for your business to use.

Especially if I intentionally do not volunteer this information to them and ask them to remove it.