Metro Future Store
Special Report

background…
Future Store Overview
Store Partners/Goals

tour report…
Katherine's Trip
Shopping Carts
RFID on Products
Other RFID in Store
Metro Photos

scandals…
Tag "Deactivation"
RFID in Loyalty Card
METRO Coverup

results…
Media Coverage
German Protest
METRO Reponse



The METRO "Future Store"
Special Report



The METRO Extra "Future Store"

The METRO Extra Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany, is the industry's showplace for radio frequency (RFID) product tagging technology. To an external observer it appears to be just an average, modern supermarket with some high-tech gadgetry and a few aisles of DVD's and CD's thrown in.  But in reality, the store was designed as both a living technology laboratory and a model for the future of global retailing.


At the Future Store, companies like Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, IBM, and Microsoft are testing remote product tracking technologies on live consumers in a real store environment.

The store, which opened in April 2003, has been called a "life-sized petri dish" by the press. IBM, a partner in the project, has publicly referred to the store's customers as "guinea pigs."




Privacy Scandals and Public Backlash

In recent months, the METRO Future Store has been rocked by scandals over privacy, inappropriate use of technology, inadequate customer disclosures, and misleading claims. Many believe that the RFID trial has gotten out of control and should be halted.

Katherine Albrecht, Founder and Director of CASPIAN (the organization that created this website), toured the Future Store on January 31, 2004 and discovered problems ranging from RFID tags hidden in the store's loyalty cards to shopping carts that track customer movements and RFID tag "deactivation" stations that do not work as claimed.

CASPIAN then worked with German privacy organization FoeBuD to raise awareness among the German public about RFID, and to educate consumers about its misuse at the Future Store.

The result was over 100 newspaper, magazine, television, and radio features across Germany -- including front page headline stories -- informing German shoppers of the risks associated with METRO's controversial use of RFID. 

German consumers have been outraged to discover the unwitting role they have played in  advancing this technology and are making it clear that they will not tolerate being used as guinea pigs by the RFID industry.

The public backlash has put enormous pressure on METRO to end the trials. In addition to being targeted by a consumer protest involving more than a dozen German privacy and civil liberties groups,  the store and its partners have come under investigation by the office of the German Privacy Commissioner and could be facing legal action. In response, METRO has already begun at least a partial retreat, announcing on February 26th that it will no longer hide RFID tags in its loyalty cards.


Facts About METRO


"METRO Group pursues...
expansion and internationalization."

- METRO AG Website

 



METRO AG
is Germany's largest retailer and the fifth largest retailer in the world. Metro operates more than 2,300 retail stores in 28 countries, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, department stores, home improvement stores, and consumer electronics stores under the Cash & Carry, Real, Extra, Media Market, Praktiker, and Galeria Kaufhof banners. The company employs 235,000 people.

METRO's growth in recent decades has been fueled by aggressive acquisition of smaller retail chains around the globe. While the company lists "internationalization" as a key objective, METRO CEO, Dr. Hans-Joachim Korber, denies that METRO is "building an empire."

Given its wide reach, METRO's policies have the potential to impact tens of millions of consumers around the world. The following is a list of countries where METRO-owned stores can be found:


Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
China
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
France
Germany  
Greece
Hungary
India
Italy
Japan
Luxembourg
Morocco
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Slovakia
Spain
Switzerland  
Turkey
UK
Ukraine
Vietnam

Source: STORES/Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu 2003 Global Powers of Retailing (PDF)


Continue the tour to read about METRO's partners in the project >>

 

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The Spychips website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
© 2003-2006 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs © Peter Ehrentraut, FoeBuD e.V., used with permission.