Shopping Discussion

Is is legal to demand you supply and verify cell phone number! to purchase online?

  • Last Updated:
  • May 10th, 2021 11:37 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
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Jan 2, 2011
113 posts
102 upvotes

Is is legal to demand you supply and verify cell phone number! to purchase online?

I just went to place an order with Canada Computers & Electronics Yesterday.
I had about $800 in computer components in the cart and then went to the checkout.
Checkout looked fine so I clicked 'next'.

Screen went dark and a small white box comes up in the middle: "Please verify your mobile number for checkout"
Options are "OK" or an "X" to close the popup.
Image

After much fiddling I found there is NO way to go through the checkout unless I give them a valid mobile phone number, and let them verify it via SMS.

Here's the problem. I don't have a cell phone. I mean, I DO have one. An old Nokia basic phone that "lives" in the car for emergencies.
It's on a pay as you go plan that costs me 30 cents a minute if I use it so I am not giving out the number for it. It does what I need it for. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I'm not sure if it does texts or not. It only has the standard alpha/numeric 12 button pad. (So "texting" is extremely difficult even if it could do it.)
Call me a Luddite if you want. I'm 70. Really into computers and electronics. But I have no need or want for a cell phone. To me it would be a useless expense with no value in return.
(For what it's worth, 40% of Canadians over 65 - that actively use the internet - don't have smartphones. StatsCan data.)

Is this even legal? It appears to be discriminatory to demand you supply a mobile number they can verify.

I opened a trouble ticket about it and the response from Customer Service essentially said "We must verify who you are so that's why we must have this. 'Thanks for understanding'."
I'm pretty sure I could go into 7-Eleven, buy their cheapest phone, a SIM card, and a $25 card, all paid for with cash, activate the phone, and do exactly what they ask.
How would that verify who I am?

My last order with them was mid-March. So around 45 days ago. Didn't have to supply/verify a mobile number then.

Doesn't placing an order and paying for it by Visa, Interac, or Paypal give them all the information about me that they should ever need?

I might be wrong but the only reason I can think of for them doing this is to get a verified mobile phone number they can spam with texts about the latest deals and special offers.

Opinions?


I did make it clear I don't have a cell phone on that ticket.
This was the reply:

Image

"Privacy" is becoming a thing of the past it seems.
Last edited by Sparkster on May 5th, 2021 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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184 replies
Jr. Member
Feb 3, 2019
178 posts
135 upvotes
GTA
Agreed. Doesn’t verify anything other than you having access to that cell phone number. Unfortunate
Deal Addict
Nov 12, 2006
2004 posts
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London
I agree that expectations of privacy and data have gotten out of hand.
I'm tired of being asked for my postal code or email address during in person shopping.
Like you, I don't want my cel number distributed needlessly.
I already get enough spam other ways.

In this case, it isn't even relevant to the transaction.
I understand for shipping issues, a contact number may be required, but a landline number should be just fine.

I get that you explained the full situation here, and it wouldn't be too many years ago when I had a non-texting plan too.
They don't deserve that explanation though, and I'd leave it out.
Send them an email or call.
Bluntly state, "I don't have a cel phone, but have $800. Do you want it?"
If it is no, shop elsewhere.
Afterwards, email them a copy of your invoice and tell them, "this could have been yours".
Member
Jan 22, 2017
418 posts
1345 upvotes
It's a problem with many places especially since I don't know a cell phone.
Although the looks I get from younger people when they find out I don't own one are worth the downsides!
Member
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Sep 10, 2007
491 posts
137 upvotes
Toronto
I've also found that a lot of these businesses don't even call customers anyway when something's up. Even couriers don't call so much anymore like they used to 10 years ago if there was something wrong during shipping (eg. there are people who may not have access to online tracking during the day, like at work, but have a phone and can leave a message...).
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Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
22341 posts
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Waterloo, ON
Sparkster wrote: Is this even legal? It appears to be discriminatory to demand you supply a mobile number they can verify.
Whether it's legal or not is irrelevant. They have no reasonable basis to demand your phone number. They have no reasonable basis to require that you have a phone number at all. As you point out, all that CanComp need is that the CC info you provide is accepted by the CC processing company.

If you feel strongly about this I would take it to CBC Go Public. This is yet another small intrusion into our privacy. It needs to be called out. CBC can do that much more effectively than a thread on RFD.

All that said, perhaps CanComp is doing you a favour. Buying $800 of computer parts can be very risky. If anything arrives that's defective or not as advertised expect a hassle getting it resolved. There are many threads on RFD that relate the problems people have encountered. I'd rather pay a bit more and deal with someone who provides better after-sales service (never mind better, less intrusive, pre-sales service.)
veni, vidi, Visa
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Dec 23, 2003
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It depends on how it is being used. Some retailers like Canada Computers use the cell number to send SMS messages and the note on their site would state that as part of informed consent. Others use it by means of 2-factor authentication. Think of it this way: You are buying something from an online retailer and they are trying to find a way to provide you with updates on the sale. Yes, it is not perfect, but it is not as invasive as you make it out to be.

When it comes to privacy these days, if you are that hellbound to not give any info, don't shop at Amazon, any Online Retailer, store anything on a cloud, have any social media footprint, etc.

BTW, my parents (73 and 78) both have cell phones: 711 Wireless prepaid with the lowest amount, and a Google Pixel 3A smartphone with service from Zoomer Wireless. The $$ they spend on the cell can easily be recovered by the savings they get when they use their phone to show coupons at restaurants, find a cheap price for fuel, price matching items at the supermarket, look up information on the go, etc.

It is 2021, and while having a flip phone in the glove box for 911 is better than nothing, it is pretty useless in this day and age. My parents are definitely NOT tech gurus, or wealthy by any means, but they have come to realize that having access to the Internet and owning a smartphone have their advantages. Heck, even Rogers came out with a deal for Senior Internet access via the connected for success program: https://about.rogers.com/giving-back/co ... or-success.
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Jun 16, 2009
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They use it to text you when you are outside waiting. I bought a few items a few weeks back.
And TBH, not sure if this is a coincidence, but within a few days I suddenly started getting constant spam calls. But it could be coincidence, and I have gotten spam calls in the past. But these ones were constant, like once an hour. Never had that persistence before.
c'mon get happy!
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Jan 7, 2002
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hightech wrote: It depends on how it is being used. Some retailers like Canada Computers use the cell number to send SMS messages and the note on their site would state that as part of informed consent. Others use it by means of 2-factor authentication. Think of it this way: You are buying something from an online retailer and they are trying to find a way to provide you with updates on the sale. Yes, it is not perfect, but it is not as invasive as you make it out to be.
They have other options to achieve these goals.
1. Most retailers do account registration verification and provide order status updates via email. Few if any, apart from CanComp insist on doing it by SMS.
2. Most businesses that offer verification or updates by SMS also warn that enabling this option may incur carrier charges. That's also why they offer other options.
3. The technology exists to send "text" messages to conventional POTS landlines using text-to-voice. Many businesses now offer this to those who lack a cellphone.

Why is CanComp different? One reason may be that they want to "spam" customers. Another may be that free email addresses are easy to create, including so-called throwaway emails. Cellphone numbers, not so much. Perhaps CanComp is trying to avoid people who create multiple new accounts in order to take advantage of new-customer discounts. (Not that these are valid reasons for insisting on SMS.)
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Sep 19, 2015
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I've purchased from CC over the last year without any issues and have not gotten increased spam calls, come on now, it's one thing to leave a negative review but to imply otherwise? It's defamation.

It's nice to be notified by SMS when my order is ready for pick up. Memory Express also asks for your number too to call when your order is ready for pick up.

With other online vendor apps, like Amazon for example I get a notification when item has been shipped and delivered. This is no different. For CC, this would appear to be their preferred method of order notification in addition to email since they do not have a mobile app.
Deal Addict
Jan 29, 2017
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If it is a one time verification you could always use one of those free temporary online phone numbers. Something like this: https://sms24.me/countries/ca

Fongo app used to give out free phone numbers for free calling/texting not sure if they still do that. Might be other similar services out there.

As for legality check your provincial consumer protection bureau. Also agree there should be an alternative way that does not require a phone.

CC may argue there is a B&M option (COVID time apart) as alternative.
Last edited by peli33 on Apr 29th, 2021 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
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I thought about suggesting that. However it could take months if not years for the bureaucracy to actually force CanComp to change their policy. CBC Go Public can accomplish the same thing, and get far more attention in doing it, in a matter of days or weeks.
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Jeebus... if you don’t like a company’s policies like this, just find another vendor. It’s not discriminatory or illegal. Your charter rights aren’t being violated. They’re just unnecessary and annoying.

C
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JKKim2983 wrote: It's nice to be notified by SMS when my order is ready for pick up. Memory Express also asks for your number too to call when your order is ready for pick up.
The issue isn't whether it's nice. This issue is that it's mandatory. A secondary issue is that it's not clear what CanComp will do with the number after they've been "nice" in fulfilling the original order. Not everyone wants to be treated "nice" to frequent promotional texts.
With other online vendor apps, like Amazon for example I get a notification when item has been shipped and delivered.
By text or by email using the same email address that you used to register your account in the first place? Did Amazon insist that you have a cellphone number and that they notify you by SMS before they'd accept your order?
This is no different.
Those differences are huge.
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Sep 16, 2015
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Sparkster wrote: Here's the problem. I don't have a cell phone. I mean, I DO have one. An old Nokia basic phone that "lives" in the car for emergencies.
I think you're overthinking this. They're simply going to send you a code that you read off your phone's screen and type into the order page on your computer.

You have a cell phone and it *will* receive texts. Grab your phone from the car, turn it on and head back into the house to place your order.

When prompted on the computer, enter your mobile phone number.

You will receive a text message on your phone in a few seconds that contains a 6-digit numeric code. Enter the code on your computer and you can complete your transaction. Your phone can go back into the car until the next time you need it.
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jaybeeg wrote: I think you're overthinking this. They're simply going to send you a code that you read off your phone's screen and type into the order page on your computer.

You have a cell phone and it *will* receive texts. Grab your phone from the car, turn it on and head back into the house to place your order.

When prompted on the computer, enter your mobile phone number.

You will receive a text message on your phone in a few seconds that contains a 6-digit numeric code. Enter the code on your computer and you can complete your transaction. Your phone can go back into the car until the next time you need it.
Actually you need to text them when you arrive, and they text you to come inside, so the phone needs to be out a bit longer
c'mon get happy!
Deal Addict
Nov 12, 2006
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London
jaybeeg wrote: I think you're overthinking this. They're simply going to send you a code that you read off your phone's screen and type into the order page on your computer.

You have a cell phone and it *will* receive texts. Grab your phone from the car, turn it on and head back into the house to place your order.

When prompted on the computer, enter your mobile phone number.

You will receive a text message on your phone in a few seconds that contains a 6-digit numeric code. Enter the code on your computer and you can complete your transaction. Your phone can go back into the car until the next time you need it.
... and if you don't have a cel phone, you can't shop at Canada Computers?
That's the main point here.
They don't have an alternative.

It should be up to them to accommodate customers that wish to purchase, and not the other way around.
Sr. Member
Jan 17, 2013
695 posts
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BernardRyder wrote: Actually you need to text them when you arrive, and they text you to come inside, so the phone needs to be out a bit longer

Finally, this is the reason why they need the cell phone number, for Covid pickup procedures.
Deal Addict
Jan 28, 2014
3469 posts
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CrazyCatMan wrote: It's a problem with many places especially since I don't know a cell phone.
Although the looks I get from younger people when they find out I don't own one are worth the downsides!
And no one believes that you don't have a cell phone, they just think that you don't want to give out your cell phone number.

I had to get a cell phone 2 weeks ago because of the cats we adopted at that time. Anything for the pets. But I won't be using it much and definitely won't be giving out the number other than to medical personnel as needed. I haven't used the phone yet - I can't stand the little keyboard for texting. I need a "real" keyboard - one like the IBM Selectric had back in the day. It has been suggested that I would be best with a gaming keyboard even though I don't play games on the computer - because I hit those keys hard - that would of course be for my PC. I of course have a land line!

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