Philz to stop tracking customers via smartphones

By this weekend, a well-known local coffee chain says it will no longer be tracking your visits to their stores through your smartphone. You know Philz Coffee, but you probably haven't heard of the technology used called Euclid.

The CEO at Euclid says that he and his employees are trying to improve the shopping experience and that they think their technology does just that. He says his customers vary from mom and pop shops to big department stores. But is this gathering information or is it spying?

A sticker at Philz coffee shops tells you that you're being tracked. Philz has been using technology that picks up your wi-fi signal on your smartphone and tells them about your coffee buying behavior.

But the company then faced a backlash when comments on their Facebook page criticized it. One called it inexcusable and un-American. Philz has decided to stop the tracking.

"I just want to stress that we take privacy really seriously," Philz CEO Jacob Jaber said.

But the San Francisco company that Philz hired to do the tracking says this is exactly what happens to you when you shop online. The website you're on can track what you look at and learn about your shopping habits. Brick and mortar stores want to be able to do that, too.

A Euclid spokesperson says the company was built from the ground up with a focus on privacy and steered us to Euclid's website for more information.

A video on the company's website states, "Euclid only uses anonymous aggregated information. We never know your identity and we will never collect personal information."

While Philz heard from customers who have concerns about privacy, some coffee drinkers we spoke to Thursday morning say they assume they're being tracked throughout their day.

"I have enough apps on my phone that track me in weird ways that it's not really surprising that anyone else is doing that," said Sean.

"They're tracking the credit card anyways, which is what I will be paying there anyways, so the information will be out there somehow I'm not that worried about it," said Kaisa Still.

Philz plans to quit using the tracking technology by this weekend.
Related Topics:
businesscoffeeinternettechnologyshoppingsmartphonesretailSan Francisco
(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)