It is out of control. No doubt we all read about the angry father who sued Target for outing his teen daughter's pregnancy. Did you miss this event? The short version is Targets data base collated the information that Daughter was no longer buying personal products, was no longer buying anything with perfumes and was buying a new type of vitamin. Thus the analysis at TargetDataCentral deduced this "guest" was pregnant. Target then mailed her their congratulations along with discount coupons for baby nursery furniture, layette items and diapers. Dad was initially furious at Target for insulting his daughter and harming her good name. Ultimately this dad was horrified to learn Target knew what he did not. His teenage, unmarried, high school attending daughter was pregnant. Target had "outed" her pregnancy.
Do you suppose this now means unmarried teens will forgo taking their prenatal vitamins to keep a secret?
When I returned from Fizzing about I made a dedicated trip to the local SmartyPets store to buy 4 cases of canned dog food for my aging Spaniel. His teeth are down to nubs so crunching kibble is a thing of the past. This sweet, sweet animal still spins joy circles every time he sees me. With or without the food bowl. I am always willing to make the journey across town to purchase the food he most enjoys.
I waited my turn to pay.
There are 8 registers but just one cashier on station. There are several other personnel in the logo shirt not stocking or inventorying or working in any visible way. What they are not doing is manning a register. It becomes apparent the one cashier is new. Also slow. But very cheerful giving her full attention to each customer and concentrating on the process of each checkout. When I am the next one up another cashier opens a register and those behind me flee to that line. I was boxed in and could not possibly have responded when she called out "I can help the next person !".
When it was my turn the cashier asked,
" Do you have your rewards card with you today?"
" Are you a member?"
" Great! I get extras for signing people up for our program! "
" Sorry, I am not a fan of rewards cards so this is not something I do"
" It only takes a minute"
"No thanks, can you just ring up my order please."
"What is your phone number?"
"What? there is no such thing!"
" There is. Can we please proceed with the check out?" I inquired while holding a fistful of twenties.
" Sure thing! What is your e-mail address?"
" Also private. Can we proceed now?"
" Not without your data."
" Uh, not too sure I understand you?"
" Do you want to use a credit card?"
" Well if we do not have your data from your rewards membership, your phone number, your e-mail or a credit card I can't ring up your sale".
Instead I asked the cashier to either put in a phone number of her choosing or to call her manager.
" Ma'am. This is a new job. I need this job. I am trying to do my job but you are insisting on getting me into trouble. Just give me your phone number so I can keep my job?"
I did almost give her a false phone number. But. If I was going to have a stroke from rising blood pressure
I did not want to go out as a sheeple. I tried one more time.
" Here are my purchases. Here is my cash. Can we proceed?"
" Your phone number please?"
I turned; walked over to the logo shirts and said, " which one of you needs to over ride that register so I can buy this dog food and leave?" A woman about my age stepped up and said with a grin,
" We actually hope for customers like you when we have trainees!"
" Former customer", I replied.
After this experience I wanted nothing more than to go home. Maybe I should resign myself to this new attitude of every sort of commerce has a right to my data. I cannot. It deeply offends me. When exactly did I have to forfeit my rights to privacy in order to shop?
Just across the parking lot is a big box hardware store. I needed to pick up a door knocker for one of my projects. A quick in and out I told myself. No drama. Get the thing, stand in line, pay, leave. It didn't happen. I did not want to sign up to have all my current and future purchases captured in their data base. I did not want a store credit card. I did not want to disburse my phone numbers or e-mail addresses. I did not want to be data mined. A fact which I mentioned to the nice man who was trying his best to recruit my participation. Nice Man sighed saying, " We all have to open cards or get program signee quotas to keep our jobs. Are you sure you don't want to enroll?" I declined. I hope Nice Man keeps his job. I hope dog food cashier keeps hers too. If they don't I hope they will sue their former employers for the good of us all.
Driving home I thought this new big retail attitude was going to be the salvation of Mom and Pop stores.
For those of us who do not want to be mined, outed or harassed we will need to take our business elsewhere. A line has been crossed. Once a retailer has authorized a POS system which refuses a sale without the relinquishing of personal data there is no pretense left.
This is a war.
Privacy has lost some ginormous rounds these past few years. At some point, we consumers will have to choose. We can no longer just use misdirection for our own protection. The data bases know if the e-mail addresses or phone numbers are bogus. The coming horrors? Hold onto your seats. The newest POS systems will be using facial recognition software at the check out station cameras to process our purchases. No data needed.