Whole Foods already wants to take your whole paycheck. Now they want your whole identity, too.
Last year for my birthday someone had sent me a Whole Foods e-gift card. I actually think gift cards are the dumbest, most impersonal gifts ever, but admittedly they are convenient and easy. Or should I say, they’re supposed to be easy. That’s not the case with Whole Paycheck.
On January 27th, 2013 I was trying to think of something I could buy a friend of mine. I like buying useful things and being that he’s vegan, I figure ordering him this to save money at the grocery store could be helpful. So I place the order on wholefoods.com for a $150 gift card.
I guess when it rains it pours, because this experience was bad from the start. After entering all the info for my order, I was unable to add the gift card to my shopping cart due to an AJAX script error on Whole Foods website. I’m not even that web savvy, yet I could even identify the sloppy code their website is using is non-compliant with the latest version of the Chrome browser.
So what do I have to do? Open Firefox and re-enter all the info again… finally I am able to add the card to my cart. Next, I hit submit and this is what happens:
Hmm… that’s annoying. So I call the number and “Brian” answers the phone. He asks for my address and name (the latter of which I have to spell out, multiple times) and then asks for my Social Security number.
Me: What?! Are you kidding?!
Brian: This is part of the series of questions we need to ask to verify your identity.
I order a LOT online (and using this same credit card) and have never encountered this before. In fact, just last quarter, I placed orders for over $5,000 worth of computers from three different online retailers and none of them asked me for my SSN. Yet to order a Whole Foods gift card, I need to tell them this very private number? Does that make any sense?!
I refused to give Brian (if that’s even his real name) my SSN. So to approve the order, we had to get Chase on the line and do a 3-way call. After I see the call time on my phone go past the 10 minute mark and he is able to ask Chase all the questions he wants, finally the order is approved and placed.
After that, I ask Brian a couple closing questions:
Me: What is your name again?
Me: And what’s your last name?
Brian: I can’t tell you that.
Me: So let me get this right. You want me to trust you with my Social Security number and everything about me, yet I can’t even know your last name? This isn’t exactly a two way street here.
Just to clarify, Chase has nothing to do with this ridiculousness. It is Whole Paycheck who has implemented this bizarre ID verification policy for ordering online gift cards. Apparently, they use some company called “Giftango” to do this evasive background check, regardless of what credit card you’re using.
Whole lotta hassle
Part of the reason ID theft is so prevalent these days is because we’re expected to give out our Social Security about as often as we give out our first name. The more times we have to give this number out, the more places it’s being stored. And that means more places hackers can obtain it. Obviously, I understand the need of giving it when you apply for credit, but asking for it just to order a basic gift card is insanity. I have draw the line there.
But even if you don’t have a problem revealing your SSN to random first name strangers in whereabouts unknown at third-party companies you’ve never heard of, you should still avoid ordering gift cards online at Whole Foods for the reason that it’s a mega time-waster. I would have never placed the order if I had known all the hoops I’d be jumping through at 10:30 pm on my previously peaceful Sunday night.
Thank goodness when I call my Chase card’s customer service number, I get direct access to a live person immediately without having to press any buttons…