Google Has A Secret Page That Records All The Things You've Bought Online
Gmail's "Purchases" page collects and sorts out all of your online shopping and in-app purchase receipts.
Here's what my "Purchases" page in Google looks like:
Google has a page, tucked away deep in your settings, where all your receipts from shopping online are sorted and saved. Ordered sushi on Seamless? Not only is the receipt there, but it lists out the California rolls and edamame. It doesn't stop at Seamless either; it includes anything else you might have bought online too (in which a receipt was sent to your Gmail): Amazon, prescriptions, movies, stuff you paid for using Square. And there are the orders placed using Google services, like Google Play Store, Google Express, or through the Google Assistant.
Here's the link to the page (you have to be logged in): https://myaccount.google.com/purchases.
On the one hand, it makes sense. You get an email receipt for online or in-app purchases, and it's easy for Google to extract data from that.
But it's slightly uncanny to see some of the details of the receipts in there. Like my request to not include bean sprouts in any dishes when I ordered Thai once.
There is currently no way to mass-delete your purchase history in Google, although you can delete the transactions one by one. There's also no way to turn the Purchases page "off" or to prevent future purchases from getting sorted into it.
CNBC, which reported this feature today, points out that there isn't a clear way to change this setting on the Purchases page itself, and it's hard to find it to begin with.
At a moment when users are extremely on edge about their privacy, there's a general distrust of how tech giants like Facebook, Google, or Amazon's handle our personal info. After so many screwups and breeches and leaks, it can be hard to see their promises to "take your privacy seriously" as more than lip service.
Learning that Google has been sorting out and storing our shopping habits — and we didn't even know it! — is a little freaky, and it's reasonable to be skeptical about why it's keeping this information.
In an emailed statement, Google said: “To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place, we’ve created a private destination that can only be seen by you. You can delete this information at any time. We don’t use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page. We're always working to help people understand and manage their data.”
Still, considering that the Purchase page is deeply hidden in the settings menu, it doesn't seem like something Google created to solve a frequent user problem.
The Purchases page is part of your Google account, not just your Gmail. It uses receipts found in your Gmail in addition to orders placed through Google services like the Google Play store or with Google assistant. A previous version misstated that the Purchase page was tied only to your Gmail.
We thought there was a setting to keep your purchases from getting sorted, but there is, in fact, no way to turn “Purchases” off. Yikes.