California Federal Court Holds Online Purchase Transactions for Shipped Merchandise Not Covered by Song-Beverly Credit Card Act
On April 30, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held that Section 1747.08 of the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, which prohibits retailers from requiring personal information as a condition to completing credit card transactions, does not apply to online purchase transactions in which the merchandise is shipped or delivered to the customer. Ambers v. Buy.com, No. 13-196, slip op. (C.D. Cal. Apr. 30, 2013). The ruling extends a recent holding by the California Supreme Court in Apple Inc. v. Sup. Ct. Los Angeles, which held that the Song-Beverly provisions do not apply when the item purchased is downloaded via the Internet. In this case, the customer claimed on behalf of a putative class whose claims could total $500 million that Apple created a standard that applies the Song-Beverly protections whenever the retailer has “some mechanism” to verify the customer’s identity. The plaintiff argued that the retailer’s request as part of the purchase transaction for a phone number in addition to the shipping address violated the statutory privacy protection. The court reasoned that as explained in Apple, the state legislature intended to allow retailers to verify that a person making a card purchase is authorized to do so, and stated that the shipping address alone would not work as an anti-fraud mechanism because a person who buys merchandise online may direct shipments to addresses not related to the credit card billing address. As such, the court held that Song-Beverly privacy protection does not apply to online purchases where the merchandise is being shipped or delivered, and granted the retailer’s motion to dismiss.