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Major retailers, just like any large business, do not like being told by partners what they can and can’t do. But when the credit cards told merchants that they must retain credit card information to deal with returns and chargebacks, they balked, but then agreed.

Like any good business, they tried taking an unpleasant requirement and turning it into a business advantage. Consider suppliers being forced to use RFID (radio-frequency identification) who then use it to better track their own product movement or e-tailers who reluctantly comply with accessibility rules and then discover that it costs them less in programming and development and their pages load faster.

Retailers started using the credit card numbers to identify purchases with specific consumers, given that they had to store them anyway. It turned out to be a convenient link into CRM (customer relationship management) systems, especially for customers who weren’t using the traditional retailer-issued loyalty card.

Read the full story on eWEEK: The Retail Credit Card Addiction