July 19, 2009
IFA, one of the largest sellers of health and life insurance,
wants to work with ShopSense, a Dallas-based national
grocery chain, in order to purchase customer information
that ShopSense has collected through the information
provided by its customers in order to participate in a
customer loyalty program.
IFA plans to utilize this information to gain a competitive
advantage in the insurance industry by basing its rates on
the correlations drawn from a customer’s grocery
purchases and his health insurance claims.
Benefits from working together
IFA will be paying ShopSense for their valuable customer
data. Therefore, ShopSense will be generating more
revenue without any additional overhead cost.
ShopSense will provide IFA with very useful information
about their customers. IFA will gain an huge competitive
advantage that other companies will not have.
“Exclusive rights to our data will give you information
that your competitor won’t be able to match.” (Pg. 38,
Ethical or Unethical?
It is unethical for ShopSense to sell information about
Customers should have the ability to know that their
information is being viewed by other people, especially
when the information will be used to formulate opinions
and rates that will directly affect them
As Katherine Lemon points out: “Most customers would
probably be surprised to learn that their personal
information could be used by companies…in other ways
that aren’t readily foreseeable.”
Customers may not want to shop at ShopSense due to
ShopSense selling information about the customers.
Since IFA is getting information about ShopSense
customers, it is possible that these customers could be
negatively affected by their information being released to
one of the worlds largest health and life insurance
Insurance rates could be falsely inflated or deflated if the
data is interpreted without consideration of other
mitigating factors (i.e. customers shopping for someone
else, daycare directors shopping for their schools, etc.)
Making it Ethical
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ha o p ns nd o a itua n
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p ns ho is lo e ir us m rs t y re
g ingtos ll the info a n toIFA o a o r kindo
o e ir rm tio r ny the f
o p ny
Sho Se es uld s
p ns ho urve c to e re a ingw the o
y us m rs g rd he r r
no thec to e w uldm if Sho Se ep rtne dw
t us m rs o ind p ns a re ith
Thed tac lle te s uld b us d a ag ne c s s y a
a o c d ho e e s e ric a e tud s
o p s dtoad ta dhe lth ind a r fo s e ificc to e
p oe e ile a ic to r p c us m rs
Overall, it is not ethical for ShopSense to sell information
They should ask for consent from their customers first.
ShopSense should do everything in their power to make
the situation ethical in order to benefit themselves, IFA
and to please their customers.