Electronic receipts ostensibly sent to customers for environmental reasons, are actually being used by retailers to bombard shoppers with marketing, a Which? Investigation has found. A host of major retailers may be breaking data protection rules with e-receipts by including unwanted marketing information with the email, sometimes even when specifically requested not to.The consumer champion sent mystery shoppers to 11 retailers – Topshop, Clarks, Gap, New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Burton, Schuh, Mothercare, Halfords, Currys PC World and Nike. Each retail group was visited a minimum of three times and in each case the mystery shoppers requested an e-receipt but told the retailer they did not want to receive any additional marketing.Retailers must not send direct marketing to new customers by email unless the person receiving the email has consented to receive it. If a retailer asks for an email address at the point of sale and plans to send marketing information, they must give shoppers the option to opt out. E-receipts issued by Mothercare, Schuh, Halfords and Gap contained promotional marketing, indicating that the retailers may be breaking data protection rules. One shop sent a marketing email with the e-receipt attached, while others included prompts to sign up for the store’s newsletter or invitations to complete a survey in return for money off a future purchase.In one of the stores visited, the Which? mystery shopper was correctly told by a store worker that the retailer was not allowed to send marketing information if a customer opted out but then subsequently received an e-receipt which contained marketing. Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said: “More and more shops are offering e-receipts, which can be convenient for shoppers, but our investigation suggests not all shops are aware of the law.“Retailers must do everything possible to ensure shoppers can have confidence that they won’t be bombarded with unwanted marketing emails and that their personal details are safe.” As far back as 2011, campaigners for stores to stop using paper receipts pushed the line that electronic proof of purchases were better for the environment. Former Tesco chief executive Lord MacLaurin, who invested in a firm called Paperless Receipts, said: “Why, when most transactions are recorded digitally, are retailers still printing on paper?“They are environmentally damaging and onerous for the consumer to store safely.”Spokespeople from Mothercare and Halfords said that they were confident that their e-receipts comply with data protection laws.A spokesperson from Schuh said: “Following the feedback given by Which? we have now updated the communications that were highlighted.” Gap said that they are providing store employees with additional guidance on their policies for e-receipts. courtesy thePublished in Daily Times, December 12th 2018.