Made to sign up to receive marketing ads to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Some say that’s not right

Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 8:43 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Getting a COVID-19 shot is proving to be a challenge. Many people are having to call multiple times or stay on the lines sometimes for hours. Add to that, now you’re being asked to receive ads before you can complete the process. Some customers of Acme Fresh Market say that’s a bit much.

I don’t know about you, but I get enough robocalls and unwanted emails and ads in the mail. When I sign up to get vaccinated against COVID-19, I shouldn’t have to be bombarded with tons of unwanted pitches. Alfred Cowger found out that some stores are using the vaccine as a way to get new customers to sign up for marketing emails when he signed his elderly mother up her coronavirus shot at an Acme store near him.

“The instructions were that I was required to sign up for their buyers club,” said Cowger. “The only way that I could get notice that vaccinations were available for her was to sign up for the buyers club.”

Cowger wants to sign his elderly mother so she can get her COVID-19 vaccination. What he found out didn’t set well with him.

“To do that I had to give her name, her address,” he said. “I gave my phone number, my email address, and I also had to give her age which I can understand for the phases of vaccination registration.”

Guess what happening now.

“I’m getting ads virtually everyday for sales and things like that for their grocery store which is what the pharmacy is attached to,” he said

Cowger is an attorney, and he has some concerns about his mother’s privacy.

“I went to their privacy notification, which the average person doesn’t do because it requires you to click through several screens,” he said. “I noticed they said they would not share her private information, which sounded fine. But if you read further, they said they will provide her information to their vendors for the purpose of bringing customized advertising to her.”

That’s sounds like a big contradiction. So, I called Acme for clarification. A spokesperson got back with and tried to put spin on the policy.

The good news is you can opt out if you want, but remember the devil is in the details.

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