Banana Republic Customer Orders A Tie But Gets Employee Files

A Banana Republic customer got an unexpected substitution in her e-commerce order last Thursday (June 20): Instead of a necktie and pocket square, what arrived were personnel files for about 20 former Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) employees, complete with Social Security numbers and W4s, The Associated Press reported.

Inside the package sent to a Cambridge, Mass., customer were three folders labeled "HR Administration," which contained tax and Social Security information as well as handwritten resignation letters, doctors' notes and salary information for sales support associates at the chain.

Gap's explanation: Individual stores send out both clothing orders and employee information using the same type of gray plastic bag. The employee information was supposed to go to a warehouse in New Mexico, and labels for the two packages appear to have been swapped. The chain didn't have an explanation for how that happened.

That has apparently happened before at Gap stores, according to the customer service rep who contacted the customer. It's not clear how often it happens, but in this case there was no chance it would be handled quietly: The customer who opened the package, Emily Dreyfuss, is the daughter of actor Richard Dreyfuss and is also an editor at CNET. (Her recommendation: "The bags should not be the same color, Gap Inc.!")

At least it's not a problem that's unique to retailers. Dreyfuss, who wrote her own account of the incident for The Atlantic, said this was the second time in three months that such information was inadvertently sent to her address. In April, a major university sent along the employment records for a new professor, instead of the final employment documents for Dreyfuss's fiance's new post-doctoral job.

For more:

- See this AP story
- See this Atlantic Wire story

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