May __, 2020
Mr. Calvin McDonald
Chief Executive Officer
Lululemon Athletica, Inc.
1818 Cornwall Ave.
Vancouver BC V6J 1C7
Dear Mr. McDonald:
This purpose of this letter is to state our objection to Lululemon’s policy, recently announced on its website, that its stores will not accept cash payments from purchasers and to respectfully request, for the reasons given below, that the company reconsider that policy. The Consumer Choice in Payment Coalition is a diverse group of consumer representatives and businesses that are committed to preserving the right of American consumers to pay for their purchases with cash. We believe that the policy that your company has announced threatens to put your customers’ security and privacy interests at unnecessary risk, without providing either your customers or your employees with appreciably enhanced protection against infection with COVID-19.
The Coalition recognizes the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it wholeheartedly endorses adherence to common-sense precautions, by consumers and merchants, whenever they’re handling coins and currency, or other means of payment such as plastic cards or smartphones. Safeguarding the public’s health must be the highest priority for us all. The Coalition further believes it essential that members of the public be provided accurate and current information that they can use in deciding how best to carry out, carefully and prudently, the tasks of their day-to-day lives.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised the section of its website headed “How COVID-19 Spreads” to reiterate and emphasize the following language: “COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person.” The section goes on to acknowledge that, although it “may be possible” for someone to contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes, such transmission “is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) objected sharply and emphatically after the British newspaper The Telegraph erroneously reported that the WHO had warned that “‘banknotes may be spreading the new coronavirus.’” A WHO spokeswoman responded in an email that categorically rejected that assertion, saying simply: “We were misrepresented.”
The email continued: “WHO did NOT say banknotes would transmit COVID-19, nor have we issued any warnings or statements about this. . . . We were asked if we thought banknotes could transmit COVID-19 and we said you should wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food,” which the spokeswoman described as “good hygiene practice.”
Noncash payments systems are integral to the growing array of data-driven marketing programs that thrive on the records and data of consumers’ purchasing habits and choices that necessarily are captured and maintained by such systems. Many consumers—perhaps increasing numbers of them—find that making their purchases with cash is especially attractive because such transactions ordinarily are not available to other merchants or marketers, or to businesses engaged in data mining.
We are encouraged that, according to the announcement on your website, Lululemon’s policy of refusing cash payment is temporary, and is to be reassessed 30 days after the reopening of your stores. We hope that your reassessment will appropriately take account of the factors discussed in this letter, and of the deleterious effects that we believe the policy has on your customers and, by discouraging people who otherwise might become or remain your customers, on your employees and your company.
We would be pleased to provide, upon your request, further information showing that, assuming observance of good hygiene practices—the same precautions that are recommended for those handling plastic cards or smartphones—handling cash in sales transactions presents no greater health hazard, to customers or employees, than handling cards or smartphones.
Very truly yours,