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Texted photo lab pics spoil pregnancy surprise, couple says

Commentary: In Michigan, photos meant for a baby announcement to family get spread all around town after dropoff at a Meijer store photo lab.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Jordan Areaux says her surprise was spoiled.

WWMT-TV screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Working in a store photo lab, or repairing someone's photo-filled phone, allows you a certain insight into other people's lives.

Of course, you're supposed to be professional about it and not gawk, linger or overshare. But for some, surely, the temptation to rummage through the photos is simply too great to bear. Perhaps they're even tempted to copy one or two.

This is what Jordan Areaux and her boyfriend, Masyn Lehl, say happened when they handed in their pregnancy announcement photos, meant as a surprise, to a Meijer grocery store photo lab in Plainwell, Michigan.

As WWMT-TV reports, this is the couple's first baby, so they wanted to take pictures and slip them into Christmas gifts with their announcement.

"It would be the first grandbaby in our family, and my grandma actually has cancer, so we were going to kind of surprise her," Areaux told WWMT.

Instead, they say, Meijer photo lab employees took pictures of their pictures and texted them around greater Plainwell. They say the texting chain even reached members of both their families, spoiling the whole surprise.

Why might the employees have done this? Areaux speculates that because some of the Meijer employees were her high school friends, they couldn't resist spreading the news.

She told MLive: "I think the girls were trying to start drama and be mean." Oh.

Meijer didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, the company offered WWMT this statement: "The team members involved in the incident no longer work for Meijer. We followed our standard protocol and once we received the complaint we immediately started an investigation. All photo department team members are required to adhere to a strict confidentiality policy."

Now, of course, there are mutterings about possible legal action. Might the photo lab employees have committed a crime? Could there be a civil case? If so, how would Arneaux and Lehl quantify their hurt?

The Allegan County Sheriff's Office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. WWMT says the sheriff is looking into what happened.

We're also reaching out to Areaux for additional comment.

This wouldn't be the first time that store workers have been accused of invading a customer's privacy. Employees at Best Buy were once even accused of copying a woman's racy photos.

Perhaps the sad reality is that if you want privacy, you should go to a store where no one knows you. It's a pity, but in our frivolously sharing world, technology only enhances the human instinct toward nosiness.

Which, naturally, reduces your ability to trust anyone.