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Metro Drops RFID Loyalty Card Trial

RHEINBORG, Germany - The future is not bright for RFID loyalty cards at Metro's Future Store. Following pressure and protests from civil liberties group FoeBuD over consumer privacy, Metro AG has decided to discontinue the test program.

The German retailer has agreed to stop issuing loyalty cards containing RFID tags and will replace 10,000 RFID-enabled cards already issued, according to the Retail Bulletin. Tags will also be removed from product packaging including cream cheese, shampoo, and razor blades. Products are made by such companies as Procter & Gamble and Gillette.

The consumer trials have been running since Future Store opened almost a year ago. Future Store is a test ground for a host of retail technologies, including RFID.

In other examples of the RFID controversy, activist group CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) has campaigned against the use of RFID tags by Wal-Mart and Tesco, both of which have conducted in-store trials with Gillette; fashion retailer Benetton faced protests in Italy last year when electronics supplier Philips announced a joint RFID project that would have seen tags sewn into clothes; and in California a bill has been introduced in the state legislature that would require businesses to tell customers if they use RFID systems to collect information.

Metro executives, however, say that consumers who regularly shop the much-publicized Future Store are fully aware of what technologies are being used.

Metro's supply chain rollout of RFID, which doesn't involve tagging individual products, will continue. Based on its success at Future Store, later this year Metro will begin using RFID technology throughout its entire supply chain and at other stores it operates.

Initially, 100 suppliers will tag pallets and transport crates for delivery to 10 Metro central warehouses and 250 stores.
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