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Consumer advocates were celebrating, and retailers were shocked Thursday, when the California Supreme Court declared that state law bars a merchant from asking for a customer's ZIP code and recording it as part of a credit card purchase.

As part of an address, a ZIP code qualifies as personal identification information, so when a merchant asks a customer for it and records it as part of a transaction, that violates California's Credit Card Act, the high court ruled.

The unanimous 17-page opinion outlaws the widespread practice and strikes down an appellate court's 2009 decision.

The defendant, high-end household goods giant Williams-Sonoma Stores Inc., offers no reason that would justify departing from the "statute's plain language, protective purpose and legislative history," the court concluded.
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Posted 11:37 AM

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